CBD Challenge: Market a Health Product Without Health Claims

Navigating CBD advertising restrictions or shifting consumer perception can be tricky. Don’t make it harder and market your product using health claims.

Perhaps you’ve heard the tale of how lobsters were once considered worthless and fit only to be served to prisoners? CBD products have a similar origin story. Until recently, growers went out of their way to breed CBD out of plants.

Oh, how times have changed. Now, CBD products represent one of the fastest-growing markets in the health and wellness industry. Consumer sales of CBD products grew an astonishing 500% between 2014 and 2018. Because it is safe, non-intoxicating, and has wide health and wellness applications, CBD is poised to be the most significant new consumer health product category in decades. 

The best part for brands in this market? Growth is only getting started. Consumer perceptions of CBD are shifting quickly, and the regulations guiding CBD products are changing. Both developments have the potential to unleash a wave of growth – and brands need to prepare now in order to capitalize.

The accelerated evolution of an innovative consumer health product

The velocity of change in the CBD marketplace has been remarkable. Just five years ago, CBD products were essentially unknown. A Google Trends chart outlining historical search interest in the phrase “CBD” appears as a virtual flat line from 2004 to 2016, before spiking dramatically in 2017.

That interest is coinciding with research that indicates CBD products may have far broader health and wellness applications than previously imagined. Scientists have established that CBD products are especially effective in the treatment of severe childhood epilepsy. Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes both induce major seizures in children and typically do not respond to conventional epilepsy medications. CBD-derived medicines, however, have been proven to inhibit or even stop such seizures from occurring.

While that application is powerful, it is also quite narrow. CBD’s broader application (at least at the moment) is to be used in the treatment of depression or anxiety. Although CBD is not intoxicating, it shares some of the mood-stablizing qualities of other cannabinoids. 

Studies also suggest that CBD has significant potential as an insomnia remedy. While the healthcare sector has developed a number of powerful insomnia treatments, most of them are habit forming and must be used under a physician’s supervision. CBD holds the potential to be a safe, effective, non-habit forming alternative — a melatonin of sorts, but with much greater efficacy.

CBD has also been shown to reduce pain in clinical settings. A recent study in the European Journal of Pain demonstrated that when topically applied, CBD can reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. CBD is believed to inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult forms of chronic pain to treat.

Ultimately, these health and wellness applications illustrate the most exciting thing about CBD – it’s a widely available consumer product that’s safe, easy to purchase, and can theoretically help almost anyone improve their health or quality of life.

There’s just one catch: CBD brands can’t really broadcast this yet.

The challenge of marketing a great health product…without making health claims

Though the 2018 Farm Bill took CBD products out of a legal gray area and conferred federal legitimacy, the reality of buying, selling, and marketing CBD products remains fairly complex.

In the context of health, the most important thing to understand is this: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not allow brands to market CBD products as therapeutic treatments for disease or other conditions. The FDA also does not allow CBD products to be marketed as dietary health supplements. This doesn’t mean the FDA believes CBD has no therapeutic utility; the agency gave its blessing to a CBD-based epilepsy treatment, Epidiolex, which is marketed as such.

The FDA’s position means that CBD brands must approach any health-related claims with caution. A CBD marketing plan must be carefully crafted, and include precisely calibrated language, in order to stay compliant with FDA rulings.

Working with a top CBD advertising agency or CBD marketing company is often the best way to ensure that a campaign is compelling, yet still designed to stay on the right side of CBD advertising laws or CBD advertising restrictions. 

A CBD marketing agency can also serve another key purpose: Helping brands navigate the minefield of CBD online advertising. Large platforms such as Facebook and Google do not allow CBD ads, which means that alternative CBD marketing ideas are necessary

Fortunately, more guidance from FDA regulators is coming; a meeting on the topic was scheduled May 2019. Once the FDA provides greater clarity with regard to CBD marketing, CBD advertising restrictions may ease on some of the larger online ad platforms.

Preparing for product liftoff

Few product categories hold the potential of CBD. Though its applications within the health and wellness industry are immense, CBD also holds promise as a beauty treatment, and additional applications or use cases are still likely to develop.

The complexity of the legal and regulatory landscape surrounding CBD products has acted as a brake on growth, and has also likely dissuaded some from entering the business. This isn’t a negative, however. Brands that transcend these challenges by creating the most compelling, legally compliant marketing and advertising campaigns – and distributing them through the best available channels – will be ideally positioned to thrive when the floodgates truly open.

About us

At BIGEYE, we’re experts at helping brands negotiate the inherent challenges associated with CBD advertising restrictions and marketing regulations. Contact us today to learn what we can do for your CBD brand.

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Why Pharma Brands Struggle With Digital Ads

Pharmaceutical companies dominate the airwaves in the U.S., but face a much tougher challenge on the Web.

Turn on a TV during daytime hours, and the odds are strong you’ll see the work of a pharmaceutical advertising agency. Ads for prescription drugs are everywhere during peak viewing hours for older viewers, and only slightly less omnipresent during evening hours.

The numbers bear this out: Pharmaceutical companies are spending about $6 billion on TV ads annually. With an aging population and medical advances keeping us healthier longer, this is a state of affairs that’s likely to continue.

Yet while pharmaceutical ads are everywhere on linear TV, they are much less well-represented in the digital sphere — and there are a few reasons why progress on this front has been halting.

Paging Dr. Google

The Internet has become the public’s number one source for health information. When consumers have a troubling symptom, Google and WebMD are often the first stops. Physicians aren’t immune to the powers of the Internet either, and often use online searches to supplement print sources when developing clinical opinions and treatment plans.

Yet despite this rather transformational change, pharmaceutical advertising is still limited in the digital realm. TV and magazines still receive the vast majority of pharmaceutical ad and marketing spend.

There are two reasons why digital advertising in the pharmaceutical industry remains a relative rarity: Government inaction and federal regulations.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken an exceptionally methodical approach to providing guidance on what is allowable and what is illegal in terms of digital pharma ads and online pharma marketing. Without clear guidelines, companies have been historically risk-averse in terms of formulating digital strategies. While the FDA is slow and deliberate when crafting policy, it sends out warning letters with much higher velocity.

Compounding this difficulty is the current rate of technological change. By the time the FDA offers pharmaceutical marketing guidance on a digital platform, two new platforms have been developed and released.

Bypassing Programmatic Roadblocks 

There’s another rather large fly in the ointment for digital advertisers: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. This federal law grants US citizens privacy rights that protect the use of medical data.

For programmatic advertisers, this is a substantial challenge. By harvesting location data, search data and other personal information, advertisers can serve highly targeted ads to consumers when their intent to purchase is at its apex. This, obviously, is a very powerful tool.

It’s also a tool that’s constrained by regulations in some instances, however. If a pharmaceutical advertising agency wants to initiate an automated ad campaign, they must proceed with caution. 

HIPAA outlaws the use of first-party data to link a consumer with a medical condition. This means that a pharmaceutical advertising agency cannot use such data to identify a consumer as a high cholesterol sufferer, then serve her an ad for Lipitor.

While this is a significant limitation, it isn’t a complete deal-breaker. Advertisers often use indirect targeting based on related conditions. They also white-list the sites their ads appear on and use audience proxies (such as medical websites) when creating automated campaigns. Agencies can target content (serving Viagra ads in an article about erectile dysfunction, for example) but can’t target specific consumers. These strategies help them stay on the right side of compliance.

Is indirect targeting based on third-party data or related conditions as effective as standard programmatic approaches? That’s unlikely. Yet it can be quite effective, especially when compared to linear TV ads, which offer only the most crude form of demographic targeting.

And, as digital advertising tools continue to evolve, indirect targeting may improve to a point where it is nearly as effective as using first-party data. 

One thing is certain: Digital spaces remain under-utilized within the context of pharmaceutical marketing. As today’s Gen X and millennial consumers age, pharma brands won’t be able to rely on linear TV and print magazines to reach their audiences — and brands at the vanguard of this transition will be in the strongest competitive position.

The Takeaway

If you’d like to see what a tech-focused pharmaceutical advertising agency can do for your products, contact BIGEYE today. We’ll help you harness the full power of advertising and marketing across every medium.

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Rise of the Chatbots: Bringing AI Into Pharma Marketing

Looking for a low risk, low overhead, but high impact way to introduce AI into your pharma marketing? Then consider the chatbot.

Customer service is one of the most obvious applications for automation — and companies have been ruthlessly efficient in its deployment. Newer tech-based firms, in particular, have opted for near-total customer service automation, at least for routine queries. Most consumers are no doubt familiar with the lengths one must go to in order to get an actual carbon-based life form on the other end of a phone or computer interaction.

While dealing with endless irrelevant computer-generated questions is tiresome now, consumers are about to get some relief. AI and natural language processing (NLP) are growing exponentially smarter. Soon, consumers will have difficulty discerning silicon-based vs. carbon-based customer assistance. As chatbots and other automated programs grow more capable, brands will also be able to extend their functionality into the realm of pharmaceutical marketing.

How Chatbots Can Help Brands Incorporate AI Into Pharma Marketing

AI is playing a critical role in pharmaceutical industry product development. Major companies such as Pfizer and Google are using AI to help with early disease diagnosis. Artificial intelligence is also used to accelerate timelines for new drug discoveries. AI is also positioned to play a critical role in the emergence of personalized medicine, where tailored therapies are created based on a patient’s genetic profile.

Heady stuff, to be certain — yet also fairly far outside of the bailiwick of your conventional pharmaceutical advertising agency or pharma marketing department.

There is, however, one AI implementation that is both effective and viable for marketing purposes: The chatbot.

Today’s chatbots have come a long way from the rather static and limited versions consumers first encountered. Part of this is due to a gradual shift away from rules-based AI (where a chatbot responds according to pre-determined rule sets) to a fully realized NLP implementation. In the latter, a chatbot can continually learn and expand its repertoire, growing more accurate and responsive over time. 

In fact, today’s NLP-based chat applications have grown astonishingly life-like, even incorporating human-sounding conversational pauses and stammers. Some chatbots even make intentional errors to increase their verisimilitude.

Serving an Automated Marketing Role

In the context of customer service and marketing, it’s not difficult to see the benefits of having an intelligent helper who sounds like a human and who is ready to assist with patient queries 24/7. This is especially helpful in an industry where consumers frequently have simple questions about dosages, interactions, and other issues. If your chatbot is capable of seamlessly handling these lines of interaction, it frees up personnel to work on higher-value tasks — one of the core advantages of automation.

That’s merely one application of chatbot AI, however. While a well-designed bot can provide consumers with information and facilitate positive experiences, it also plays another critical role: It accumulates a vast trove of data culled from thousands upon thousands of consumer interactions.

Obviously, privacy regulations govern how first-party data can be used. Yet this information is still quite valuable in terms of identifying how processes can be improved and how consumers respond to particular messages.

Teva and other leading global pharmaceutical brands have created chatbots for their internal properties and are using them for pharma marketing purposes. Teva’s Maxbot implementation, in fact, recently won several awards from the Pharmaceutical Marketing Society.

Smaller brands should also follow suit. Though these brands may not have the internal resources to develop a chatbot, the right pharmaceutical advertising agency may be able to develop a chatbot solution that fits the bill.

The Takeaway

At BIGEYE, we believe that technology plays a leading role in the success of a modern pharma marketing campaign. If you’re looking for more from your pharmaceutical advertising agency, we urge you to contact BIGEYE today.  

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When Two Industry Giants Collide: CBD Finally Goes DTC

Intelligently mapping a CBD marketing plan is one thing, but tackling CBD and diving into the raging sea of DTC can be difficult.

What happens when a massively popular product category meets a scorching hot sales method? We’re about to find out, as CBD goes DTC. New CBD brands and CBD advertising agencies are moving to the Direct to Consumer model, as they seek to leverage first-party data to power their CBD marketing plan efforts.

Additionally, as we’ll see below, the CBD product category is a natural for the DTC model, as it allows consumers to access these products in a way that many find preferable to conventional retail settings.

The brands pioneering the CBD / DTC connection

CBDistillery, which sells hemp-derived products (gummies, creams, drops, etc.) uses a model that falls somewhere between wholesale and direct, selling online-only through its dedicated e-commerce portal. This allows CBDistillery to capture first-party data, which is critically important in a CBD marketing plan.

Another CBD brand, Feals, sells CBD products DTC by emphasizing two key elements: Consumer education and a subscription service. The subscription model has grown enormously in recent years (800% from 2014 to 2017) and has been a key driver of the DTC model.

Consumer education, on the other hand, is critically important for CBD brands selling DTC. Why? Because many consumers are still wary about the CBD / cannabis link and do not understand that CBD is not psychoactive like marijuana.

Even for consumers who understand this distinction, many are concerned about not having sufficient knowledge to dose correctly. These concerns, obviously, are heightened when products are delivered to your home in a box – there is no friendly staffer at a store or dispensary to help.

Feals addresses this issue by providing easily measured “flights” (essentially dosages) of CBD products and access to educational information and concierge-style customer service. Consumers can call Feals’ CBD hotline to receive additional guidance. This allows consumers to enjoy the convenience of DTC without worrying about misusing the products they are purchasing.

Why DTC and CBD are well-paired

The DTC model fits well within the CBD space for a variety of reasons. First, some consumers still believe CBD products carry a stigma, and they prefer to purchase CBD products discreetly rather than publicly. This mindset is likely to change in the coming years, as CBD products become routinely sold at every CVS and Walgreens in the United States.

Second, consumers use CBD products to treat anxiety and sleep disorders as well as improve daily skin and beauty regimens. What do these things have in common? They all lead to daily or near daily consumption – something that is ideal for a DTC subscription business.

Third, while CBD use is pervasive in large cities, in smaller communities the products are much less accessible. The DTC model helps narrow this availability gap, helping serve the ever-growing demand for CBD products. Those who live in smaller communities don’t have to worry about a lack of local retail options, or the possibility of a greater stigma surrounding CBD use.

Getting CBD marketing right

While CBD and DTC have extraordinary potential when paired, brands need to be cognizant of the challenges associated with a CBD marketing plan. A patchwork of regulatory rules limit what can and can’t be said. Additionally, major ad platforms such as Google and Facebook do not allow CBD marketing at the moment, citing legal and regulatory concerns. 

This means that brands need to exercise caution when considering elements such as product design and marketing messages. Failing to do so can bring action from the FDA, FTC, or other agencies.

About us

Our team of experts understands the myriad challenges of CBD marketing – and we can help you launch a creatively inspiring (and fully compliant) campaign. Do your marketing right by contacting us today to learn more.

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Creative Marketing Ideas for FinTech Companies

The FinTech space is responsible for some of the most exciting tech innovations in recent years. But has their marketing been as compelling and innovative?

The FinTech space has given us an extraordinary number of new products and services.  Square has changed the way we pay for meals, goods, and services. Venmo allows us to send money back and forth to friends and family with the press of a button. Roboadvisors allow us to invest in stocks without even speaking to a human for guidance.

All thrilling innovations, to be sure. Yet, has FinTech marketing and advertising kept pace with these product innovations?

Along with the basics (such as smart content marketing and audience segmentation), let’s take a closer look at some high impact ideas FinTech firms can use to develop successful campaigns.

Creatively inspired FinTech marketing ideas

Today’s FinTech companies have completely reimagined the way we pay for products and services, conduct our personal banking and send money peer-to-peer. 

FinTech is also a highly competitive space, however — which means that it’s imperative to have your products and services supported by a compelling and well-executed marketing strategy. 

While many of new FinTech products are based on transformative new technological leaps, the space itself isn’t especially fascinating for the average consumer.

Given that, let’s review a few tips and examples you can incorporate when devising your next FinTech marketing campaign.

  • Make your marketing campaigns and strategies mobile first. Consumer-facing FinTech is largely driven by mobile — just think about PayPal, your mobile banking app, Venmo, Square, Zelle, etc. It’s estimated that two billion people worldwide will use at least one FinTech mobile app within the next two years. This means that everything you do should be optimized for mobile. These efforts should be supported by advanced digital targeting services to help you engage your ideal audience and give them relevant messages.
  • Push out great content that’s highly relevant. You may have the most innovative consumer-facing FinTech product the world has ever seen — but if you can’t tell a compelling story about what the product is and how it can help people, nobody’s going to pay attention. Additionally, exciting new FinTech products often come with a bit of a learning curve, so it’s important to be informational and educational when necessary. It’s important to illustrate how your technology will have a practical impact on the lives of users. Advanced audience analysis can help you segment your market and deliver relevant, customized content.
  • Focus on trust, credibility, and reliability. FinTech products are decentralizing authority. Today, for example, you can use FinTech applications to engage in peer-to-peer or decentralized lending, cutting banks and financial institutions out of the process. If you’re going to minimize the role third party authorities play, trust and reputation becomes ever more critical.
  • Zig when others zag. Sometimes the most impactful marketing or advertising campaign is the one that runs totally counter to your expectations. Domino’s Pizza launched a media campaign decrying the terribleness of their original recipe in order to promote their new and improved pizza. It was a bold — and very successful — approach. Instamojo, a FinTech payment platform, took the same strategy and published an article called “Six Reasons Not to Choose Our Free Payment Platform.” It’s an attention grabber, and that’s half the battle.
  • Create a spectacle. If you’re looking for something that’s truly attention-getting, consider the case of WePay. The payment company deposited a 600-pound block of frozen ice outside of a conference staged by its competitor, PayPal. The ice, which had frozen money embedded within, was a stunt designed to highlight complaints that PayPal was freezing too many user accounts. As you might imagine, the stunt went massively viral, gaining top-level media coverage from major tech and advertising industry publications. 

The Takeaway

FinTech technology moves at breakneck speed, so it’s critically important for FinTech marketing to keep pace. Innovative and exciting new products need to be paired with creative marketing that is equally engaging.

At BIGEYE, we’re experts at helping FinTech firms pair their innovative new products and services with the right marketing and ad strategies. We’ll help you reach new audiences and build market share with compelling creative supported by advanced AdTech.

Contact us today to discover what BIGEYE can do for you.

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CBD Mania has Arrived, but What do Consumers Really Think?

With the CBD market estimated to hit $22 billion by 2022, it’s best to understand the CBD marketing regulations that could stop you in your tracks.

At this point, only hermits and monks are unfamiliar with the story of CBD (cannabidiol), but few know about the CBD marketing regulations. In the last 12 months, CBD products have permeated the public consciousness much in the same way the “gluten-free” craze did a few years earlier.

Despite this market omnipresence, there’s still one thing we’re a bit foggy on — what U.S. consumers actually think about these products.

Fortunately, a recent GlobalWebIndex post took a deep dive into this issue and surfaced some remarkable insights.

Let’s take a closer look.

The CBD explosion

Cannabidiol, a hemp / cannabis byproduct, is non-intoxicating and has been associated with a variety of positive effects on health and wellness. For people looking for a more natural way to treat issues such as pain, anxiety or insomnia, CBD is an attractive proposition.

As such, the CBD market has seen extraordinary growth in recent years. One report estimates the CBD market alone could be worth $22 billion by 2022. One key to unlocking that growth is public perception.

GlobalWebIndex queried U.S. Internet users about their perceptions of CBD and found strong support for the market.

  • 64% of respondents indicated they would be open to using CBD products 
  • 15% said they’d do so if stronger evidence of medical value existed
  • Only 14% of respondents ruled out CBD completely

CBD sales get another boost because they are situated within a market that’s expanding at a rapid rate: Health and wellness. That market is now worth more than $4 trillion and has been growing at a rate of nearly 13% annually. Trends toward alternative medicine and self-care are underpinning this growth, as more people are seeking viable alternatives to pharmaceuticals.

Data from GlobalWebIndex shows that U.S. consumers place CBD squarely within this context:

  • 65% of U.S. consumers associate CBD products with healthcare applications
  • 37% associate CBD with food
  • 28% associate it with beauty and personal care

The survey also found that most CBD users are deploying the product within a health and wellness regimen. More than half of respondents said they are using CBD to treat pain, stress, or an underlying psychiatric condition.

The regulatory evolution

Recent growth in the cannabis market is directly tied to loosened CBD marketing regulations. The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill allowed, for the first time, CBD and other hemp-derived products to be sold commercially. This move came on the heels of a wave of medical and recreational marijuana legalizations at the state level.

Consumer opinion backs up this regulatory evolution. More than half of those surveyed by GlobalWebIndex reported believing that all cannabis products should be legal, while another one-third support full legality for CBD and hemp, but not recreational cannabis.

Somewhat surprisingly, negative connotations associated with cannabis use were not a primary concern for those surveyed. Instead, most respondents expressed concern with consumer protection. Because CBD is ingested, it’s critically important to establish safeguards in terms of product safety and marketing.

Why marketing CBD is challenging

Google, Facebook, and other major digital ad platforms restrict the advertising of CBD products. Additionally, a web of media laws and CBD marketing regulations governing CBD marketing plans exists through different jurisdictions, limiting what marketers can do.

As the market matures, however, these rules are likely to change. Consumer attitudes indicate that finding the right CBD messaging is important:

  • 56% of consumers want CBD health benefits to be stressed
  • 46% want to see testimonials from health professionals
  • 39% want testimonials from current users
  • 37% want CBD’s “natural” status emphasized
  • 33% want CBD’s legality promoted
  • 29% want to see CBD promoted as a beauty product
  • 25% want CBD showcased with food and beverages

There’s another marketing angle that makes sense in terms of CBD –premiumization. Research from GlobalWebIndex indicates 60% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for CBD-infused products.

In larger, more cosmopolitan areas, CBD products are being marketed as a more upscale / healthy version of a standard coffee or chocolate bar. This strategy is likely to bear fruit, as consumers have long demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium for niche health products (gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, etc.).

The takeaway

At BIGEYE, we understand the challenges that come with cannabidiol and CBD marketing regulations. If you’d like to hear more about what a sophisticated CBD marketing campaign can do for your business, reach out to us today.

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