A ‘Joint’ Venture: Why CBD-Infused Products Need A Packaging Treatment

By MICHAEL DUFFY, an Equator US co-founder, who drives the business from both studio and boardroom to deliver operational efficiency and unrivalled creativity for clients. Splitting his time between Equator’s global studio locations, Michael develops collaborative practices across our network of studios, leveraging our under-one-roof model while harnessing global experience and insight to create outstanding value and cross-platform standout for America’s national and private brands.


It’s autumn, there’s a chill in the air, and our favorite seasonal limited-edition winter squash inspired products are hitting the local coffee shops and shelves.

But in 2022, and for those consumers who are looking for something a bit more than their de riguer pumpkin-spiced lattes, there’s a new mash-up to try: the pumpkin spice CBD gummy.

Is it a sign of the times, perhaps? Well, it’s certainly a sign of a certain retail category’s trajectory. Over the past 10 years, cannabis- and CBD-infused products have exploded onto the shelves of supermarkets, pharmacies and online shops. Key milestones along the way have been cannabidiol products benefitting from government approvals in many countries and from rising acceptance of the use of CBD products across the consumer base.

So how big is the cannabidiol market? Its global market size was recently valued at USD 5.18 billion and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.8% from 2022 to 2030. North America has dominated the market so far with a revenue share of over 85% last year. (grandresearchview.com)

Cannabidiol products represent, excuse the pun, a smoking hot industry – with a spiraling number of new product innovations making their way to market week in, week out. There’s little wonder then that so many brands are searching for their slice of the (pumpkin, probably) pie.

For those unfamiliar with Cannabidiol products, and the purpose in taking them, here’s the background info… Cannabidiol is thought to deliver wide-ranging health benefits in the treatment of anxiety and seizures and in reducing pain. Cannabidiol oil is used in medical applications such as anxiety and depression treatment, stress relief, diabetes prevention, pain relief, cancer symptom relief, and inflammation. For these reasons, the health and wellness space is an obvious fit.

In the US, we have seen major health and wellness retail brands including Rite Aid, CVS Health, and Walgreens Boots Alliance move swiftly into pole position in the CBD-infused product race, with CVS Health offering CBD topicals in nearly all of its 800 stores and Walgreens Boots Alliance selling CBD-containing topicals across 1,500 US locations.

Cannabidiol’s healing properties, widely used for therapeutic reasons due to the lack of psychoactive effects, has driven demand for CBD for health and wellness purposes has gone sky high, which is the major factor driving the market. But this is not the only sector looking for a piece of the action. The global CBD-infused cosmetics market across segments including skincare, make-up & haircare and fragrances is also thriving; it is expected to grow by $ 3.15 bn during 2022-2026, accelerating at a compound annual growth rate of 24.39% during the forecast period.

Cannabis – and CBD-based – brands looking to enter into and/or build their brand footprint in the health and wellness crossover space or the beauty market – both saturated, highly competitive arenas – will need an impactful, credible brand and impeccable packaging.

The right product packaging achieves multiple objectives: one, differentiating themselves from competitors selling products in the same space; two, engaging and growing trust among customers; and three, fulfilling functionality and safety requirements.

Packaging is a powerful medium – affecting purchasing behaviour from the first impression to product disposal and beyond.

Savvy brands use packaging and strong messaging to stand out onshelf and to differentiate themselves from the nearest competitor, and this is most effectively done when brands are able to tap into the latest branding trends and leverage their packaging and assets to communicate the core attributes and values of the business behind it.

The packaging’s style and material choices – from an embossed leaf motif incorporated in honor of the hemp plant to pared back natural card to an modern and edgy take – each component speaks volumes about the brand’s authenticity, effectiveness, value for money and more.

In the case of cannabidiols, product packaging fulfills an important additional function, that of consumer education.

With cannabidiols emerging as a relatively new category, growing consumers’ knowledge of CBD products, their types, and their purpose and utility, should be a priority. The right packaging can support consumers to expand their knowledge and confidence, helping them to navigate to the products most likely to benefit them.

This is vital since even in the US where the CBD market is significantly more mature than in other countries, knowledge among consumers is somewhat underdeveloped. A recent Forbes survey of 2,000 US adults found that while 60% of respondents have tried a CBD product and believe CBD has health and wellness benefits, one-third said they do not fully understand the differences between types of CBD, such as full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate.

Well-designed packaging can also provide clarity around segmentation, providing differentiation among the large number of products, and supporting navigation between the four main ways to consume CBD: sublingually (oil or tincture under the tongue); oral ingestion in gummies, candies, snacks, beverages and capsules; vaping or smoke inhalation; and topical application in an ointment, salve, lotion or cream.

Finally it’s important for brands to focus on the packaging’s functionality, which for cannabidiols may include outer cartons or tamper-proofing against children and pets. In addition a high-quality look and feel, suitable packaging will ensure the integrity of the product, guaranteeing that it is at all times protected from damage and/or leakage and that there is no risk of contamination by chemicals or moisture.

For brands wanting to seize the opportunity made possible by the momentum of the CBD product explosion, keeping the above parameters front of mind and working to inject heaps of ingenuity into every step of the packaging design process couldn’t be more crucial.

And while at times branding and packaging design may seem like alchemy, a pitch-perfect solution executed brilliantly will inspire consumers to weed out other brands and reach for your CBD product, pumpkin-spiced or otherwise.