CBD Displays: 10 Keys to Effective Merchandising- Part III

How the Right Display Can Help Build Your Brand, Maximize Sales, and Separate You from the Competition

We conclude this 3-part blog series on CBD displays with a focus on the remaining 4 of the 10 keys to merchandising success. In Part I, we summarized the highly predictable life cycle that we expect the CBD market to follow and discussed the importance of designing point-of-purchase CBD displays that support an educational sale while also inducing trial. In Part II, we covered 4 more keys to merchandising success: creating perceived value, earning trust and establishing credibility, maximizing visual impact, and balancing security and convenience. Today we’ll outline the last 4 success factors: flexibility, organization, differentiation, and execution. As a side note, you may also be interested in one of our related posts on Cannabis Displays and Keys to Merchandising Success.

CBD Products Teaser CBD Displays

The last 4 key success factors for effective CBD displays are:

(7) – Flexibility– Because the CBD industry is in its infancy, regulatory uncertainty continues to loom, and the rate of product innovation is high as is typical of early stage product development lifecycles, it is critically important to design flexibilty into CBD displays to protect your display investment. By flexibility, we mean the ability to accommodate changes in packaging sizes and types, changes in product mix, and changes in messaging.

Many of our customers are having to change their packaging and messaging to comply with retailer or FDA requirements. In addition, there continues to be a high level of uncertainty around the question of what is the best mix of products to offer at retail and how much product the retailer is willing to take. The question of product mix and order sizes will likely continue until retailers are able to gain more experience with CBD products and analyze sales data.

There are a number of ways to build flexibility into a CBD display such as designing shelves to be vertically adjustable to accommocate different heights of product, making shelves removable to reduce the number of shelves or change the shelf for a different configuration without having to replace the entire display, making shelf dividers adustable to accommodate different package sizes and product form factors, and making graphics interchangable as product/brand messaging evolves. An example of a CBD display that we designed with removable shelves and interchangable messaging is the Santeer counter display shown below. This display also easily converts to a floor display by adding a podium with locking storage, which is another way to design for flexibility.

santeer CBD Displays

(8) Organization– Ensuring that your CBD display offers a logical and well organized presentation of your products is key to merchandising success. Some of you might say “Thank you Captain Obvious,” but this requirement needs to be viewed from the shopper’s perspective. The CBD category is so new and can be so overwhelming for consumers, particularly given the lack of information and low level of consumer education. What this means is that brands need to be very intentional about how their products are organized within a display. Different dosages, applications/uses, package sizes, and price points for both human and pet add to the complexity and confusion, making your CBD display planogram all the more important.

Going back to the Santeer CDB display example, you can see below the products are organized around a set of intended benefits and applications, which makes sense given the purchase decision generally revolves around solving a problem such as sleep difficulties, joint pain, anxiety, etc.

Santeer CBD Displays

Within specific product benefit/application categories, the next level of organization might be dosage. The third level of oganization would likely be size- trial size, 1 month supply, 3 months supply, etc. No matter what organizing paradigm you decide upon, it is important to have your products neat and well organized. You can see in the Santeer picture above, we used clear acrylic dividers to keep the products organized and gravity fed shelves to keep the products toward the front of the display at all times. Another example of a well organized merchandiser is the bamboo essential oils display shown below that we designed for Via Nature.

UMB CBD Displays

It’s also important to think about how your products will look on your POP display not just for your photo shoot, but rather, at the end of a busy shopping day. We did not design the display shown below, but it is a good illustration of a display that seems to be organized, but you can imagine how messy it could get when heavily shopped by consumers who don’t have the patience or just don’t care about putting products back on the shelf neatly. If this display had dividers or an organizing tray it would make it easier for apathetic shoppers to be more compliant in returning handled product to the display in an organized way. A good rule of thumb when designing your display is to envision it as a disorganized disaster and then try to solve for the chaos by creating organizing mechanisms like dividers, etc.

CBD Displays

(9) Differentiation– As with any product in a crowded retail environment, differentiating your product or brand at retail is vitally important. Given the lack of established brands, standing out from the noise is even more important for CBD products. The picture below shows a CBD endcap in a local natural products grocery store. As a consumer, it’s tough to figure out what is what. With your boxes sitting shoulder to shoulder with competitive brands, it’s almost impossible to be distinctive or differentiate your products, aside perhaps from some clever packaging.

CBD Displays

In addition to traditional differentiation strategies like adding aisle interruptor signs or shelf talkers, there are a few strategies that may make sense to consider. The first is trying to create your own clearly demarcated space on an in-line shelf. One of our customers presented us with a challenge of helping their products stand out among a sea of monotonous products in the car care section at Wal-Mart. We created a 3D vacuum formed header sign that helped to stake out their section and added a number of features like a center information graphic that highlighted the product benefits that are important to car enthusiasts.

Surf City CBD Displays

Another strategy is to convince the retailer of the benefits of having a freestanding display or going “off-shelf” rather than being lumped together in an undifferentiated way with all the other products in the CBD category. Smaller brands are well advised to hone their pitch for off-shelf placement since it will become increasingly important as the industry matures and consolidates. The CBD category, like wine and spirits, could become more promotionally driven, and trying to compete with larger players who have sizable promotional budgets is not the best strategy. Instead, try to go off-shelf. Go where your competitors are not. Ouhlala Gourmet faced this very situation with its Buddy Fruits brands. It could not compete inline against the heavy spending of the big CPG companies so we designed the wooden dump bin shown below to get them into the produce section of grocery stores which really helped to drive impulse sales and proved to be an effective strategy.

Buddy Fruit W Buddy Signs CBD Displays

A variation of this stategy is to acquiesce to retailer inline placement requirements while simultaneously pursuing secondary placement in the store. Secondary placement refers to an additional location for your product away from its primary location that can help to create greater brand awareness, capture impluse sales, and disrupt the competition.

10. Execution– At the end of the day, success at anything requires great execution. Shortly after winning an Oscar and performing “Shallow” with Bradley Cooper at the Oscars, Lady Gaga was a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show where she talked about how hard she worked and how every detail of their performance was heavily scripted and highly rehearsed. Despite her enormous talent, it’s been Lady Gaga’s maniacal focus on execution that has propelled her to success.

The same is true for CBD merchandising. Flawless execution requires attention to detail- making sure your products and POP displays show up to the retailer on time, providing detailed assembly/installation and merchandising instructions, ensuring that your displays are packed in a way that minimizes shipping damage (particularly with acrylic displays), providing retailers with a set of spare keys for locking cases, ensuring that your product and display shipment complies with retailer shipping and receiving requirements, getting advanced retailer approval on all copy and messaging incorporated in your display, developing a brochure replenishment and maintenance strategy if you chose to provide brochures, creating a strategy to capture and analyze sales data, preparing for reorder fulfillment, and the list goes on.


A well designed and properly executed CBD merchandising program can go a long way in establishing your brand, maximizing sales, and setting your product apart from the competition.

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