Marketing In the Gray Zone with Canine Cannabanoids

cannabis plant leavesProducts including hemp for dogs as well as humans are being introduced and promoted at a breakneck pace.   The editor of Petfood Industry weighed in on this topic in the July 2018 issue.  One of the most interesting things about this trend from a marketing standpoint is the legal standing not only of these products but also of the terms used to describe them. The products go by a variety of names, including CBD (cannabidiol) and PCR (Phyto-Cannabinoid Rich) or just simply hemp oil.  While marketing emphasizes that these products do not contain the psycho-active THC chemical, images of cannabis leaves are freely used in promoting the products, acknowledging the heritage the product shares with THC-rich marijuana.

The legality of the product itself is a subject of debate, with the product providers claiming any product free of THC is legal, while the U.S. government says they most decidedly are not.  Veterinary Practice News discussed some of the pros and cons of providing hemp oil options to patients in a July 2018 article. That said, what is most commonly referred to as CBD oils are being sold for both human and animal use with many retailers deciding to take the risk, and the first product containing CBD oil was recently approved as a human anti-seizure drug by the FDA.

In addition to the challenges of promoting a product which fits into a niche category that’s in a legal gray area, there are likely issues coming with the naming of these products as the manufacturer of the first FDA approved drug has applied to trademark the term “CBD”  and is expected to actively protect that trademark. Bark Avenue blogged about the challenges of marketing their CBD-labelled dog treats. 

I will watch with great interest as the questions of legality, nomenclature, and efficacy are explored, as more manufacturers and retailers decide to jump on the trend.  Stay tuned for updates to this post.

 

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PetsMart and GNC create line of pet supplements

PetsMart and GNC recently announced a partnership to create a line of pet supplements available exclusively through PetsMart retailers and website.  The supplement line launches in fall, 2010 according to an article on financial news site CDTV.

This is interesting development marks the convergence of several trends.  Vitamin and supplement usage is increasing for humans,  pet care is becoming more humanized, and people are becoming more interested in premium nutrition for their pets.  This is a great opportunity for both partners; joining two strong brands in an area where there are few well-known competitors.

My concern is that pets may end up being over-supplemented as many of them already eat a nutrionally balanced commercial diet.  If the worst that happens is that some dogs produce expensive urine when they excrete excess vitamins, that’s not a terrible thing.   But dogs as well as people are harmed by overuse of some supplements. Owners should make sure their veterinarians  are aware of the supplements as well as the food that their animals consume.

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