Knowledge of CBD: Riding the Health Wave of Customer Experience
First published in CBD Health & Wellness (Oct/Nov 2020 Edition)
We live in the age of knowledge economy, and the CBD industry forms its essential part: the global CBD oil market is valued at $9.3 billion. Paradoxically, we use CBD as a universal remedy to solve many everyday wellness problems with minimal knowledge about mushroomed CBD products. What if we ask a tricky question about a source of CBD-related knowledge for wellness: “Is it WHO or FDA?” As it turned out, they know nothing, but there is a new path to knowledge about CBD: our personal experience transformed with technology to a powerful social resource.
WHO Knows about CBD?
Certainly, it is not WHO (the World Health Organization). In its CBD review, this international organization claims that there are no published statistics on the non-medical use of CBD, and there is the unsanctioned medical use of CBD products.  These products are sold through online shops as unapproved treatments for different disorders including anxiety, arthritis, pain, and even cancer and AIDS/HIV. So, the WHO says no one word about the CBD use within the wellness concept.
The FDA many times declared that internet marketplaces illegally propose CBD products as dietary supplements, and some CBD products are being marketed with unproven health claims and are of unknown quality. Recently, this organization let us know that they are working hard to answer questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD.  It means they have no answers today.
All of us need knowledge about CBD to use it safely and effectively, and we want to be enlightened just now … but it is impossible. Both WHO and FDA employ the concept of so-called ‘evidence-based’ medicine. Evidence means knowledge that is relevant and trustworthy. Generally, it is the results of published medical research that should be consistently carried through several levels from studying CBD chemical properties to exploring it in test-tubes, on animals, then on humans during four long stages. It will take years and billings of dollars to reach the last level to produce and sell an approved CBD-based drug. In the current situation, this way is too long to be practically useful for the booming CBD for the wellness market.
What is the current situation? A recent study revealed that many users are not responsibly using CBD products, people believe in CBD products’ health benefits that are not yet scientifically proven, and they are not knowledgeable about legal and regulatory issues.  Frankly speaking, many even hesitate to answer a pestered question: “Does CBD oil get you high?” Nevertheless, we use CBD in our everyday wellness routine and believe in its magical properties… creating new knowledge in this way.
The Health Wave of Consumer Experience
Talking of wellness, we position ourselves outside of the healthcare system, doctors, medical centers, etc., the system we can call the “illness industry.” Let’s focus on self-care and home-based methods with the use of CBD products to be healthier, look younger, and be in a good mood. Sure, to do all the above we rely heavily on the internet. Let’s call it the HealthWave, the wave of more healthy life initiated not by the healthcare system, Big Pharma, or bureaucrats, but consumers themselves.
Nowadays, our lifestyle embraces CBD products and related services in a digitally augmented form:
- We are interconnected through online social networks where we share knowledge about CBD to make an impression or grow our social capital.
- We are looking for technology-enhanced CBD-included methods and products for body and mind improvement that work faster and more effectively, being reasonably priced.
- We want to be engaged in wellness-related products and services development to play a more active role in our wellbeing.
- We are practicing our CBD-included daily wellness routine, and these practices form new knowledge that is more valuable today than traditional research results.
And new CBD brands have to consider these trends to be successful:
- Stimulating customers to educate themselves and share knowledge in online social networks.
- Becoming effective mediums to promote the best technology-enhanced methods for body and mind improvement.
- Asking customers for more active feedback, and inviting them to take part in products’ improvement.
- Creating new-styled e-shops with in-built community life where customers have easy access to useful information and advice.
The CBD industry is developing in line with the general trend of increased customers’ awareness of preventive healthcare as a reasonable alternative to the treatment of diseases, and a growing interest in non-medical home-based wellness therapies and appropriate products. We are more and more focusing on self-directed behavior concerning our health as opposed to medical practitioners’ advice.
How Knowledge Works in the CBD Industry
It is commonplace that knowledge is becoming a key resource within the modern knowledge economy. It includes both pieces of knowledge that brands created for customers, and knowledge derived by customers. The former promotes innovations through the commercialization of technologies to market products and services. The latter reflects customers’ experience concerning the use of products and services. Customer experience is perceived today as an important component of knowledge that turns innovations into marketable products and services.
Today understanding customers’ experience is a step forward from the outdated doctrine of “user-generated content” focused on the straightforward product or brand promotion. Modern CBD customers have minimal interest in promoting products and brands unless they are internet celebrities or medical professionals who were paid for their efforts. Ordinary consumers are more interested in product improvement and customization and personalization. One more moment is clear today that knowledgeable customers can bring new knowledge, but the question is how brands can encourage them to do it. The only way is to make the CBD knowledge process mutually beneficial for both parties: brands and customers.
The whole process for customers includes acquiring knowledge that is to say learning, then developing it namely enriching initial knowledge with own experience, and finally sharing this experience with peers in social networks. To initiate new customers’ acquiring of knowledge about CBD products, brands have to inform them through easy access to a knowledge base, and helping them to be enlightened on a topic of interest. Information for customers has to be well-structured and practically-oriented, preferably in a “how-to” mode.
It is a common misconception that the internet is an abyss of knowledge about CBD. Some brands try to provide customers with access to collections of articles, supposing their mission finished on this. Such collections do not represent ready to use knowledge, but poorly structured information. A real knowledge base contains the following information:
- CBD products’ origins.
- Structure and value of ingredients.
- Health benefits of whole formulations.
- Mechanisms of the CBD oral and topical absorbing.
- How CBD interacts with nearby receptors for targeted benefits.
- The appropriate dosage and consequences of overdosing.
- Contraindications and restrictions (allergies, pregnant, children).
- Products’ storing conditions.
No doubt, preparation and regular updating of such a knowledge base are expensive and time-consuming. Besides, even though a knowledge base is structured properly and updated, customers can ask questions. So, the process has to be interactive. Fortunately, instead of expensive manual fulfillment information technology allows making it self-served and relatively cheap.
From Personal Experience to Social Capital
Obtaining initial knowledge, CBD product users apply it to continue experimenting on themselves. It is a long process of learning from successful attempts and inevitable errors. We can confidently name this process as research. We are CBD researchers today, and we can operate softly without fear of breaking FDA regulations. Such customer research enriches initial knowledge and aligns initial methods of CBD product application with reality. In this way, CBD products become more integrated into customers’ daily wellness routine.
Each of us is looking for our way to reduce stress or anxiety, get better sleep, heal muscle spasms, or headache, in short, improve the overall quality of life. CBD may help address these wellness issues when incorporated into an everyday routine through:
- Systematically applying CBD products, and analyzing results.
- Including positive results in a wellness routine.
- Identifying new opportunities and methods of the use of CBD products.
- Improving initial CBD knowledge through an experimental approach.
Brands have to provide customers with tools and infrastructure to help them practicing frictionless CBD experience offering a relevant digital customer journey, including:
- Giving customers easy access to relevant and regularly updated information.
- Offering opportunities to publish information about personal experience.
- Presenting working patterns of “how-to” type of knowledge in the ready-for distribution form.
- Providing customers with algorithmic or AI-enabled consultations in specific areas of CBD knowledge and experience.
The stage of personal experience development prepares customers to bring their results to the community in social networks. Networking has several motivations such as be connected with peers, build an online reputation, creating mini networks, leveraging experience to grow social capital. To each her/his own. There is a fundamental motivator behind the wish to come to social networks and share CBD knowledge and experience with like-minded people: opportunities to obtain cumulative group knowledge and extend a personal network. The growth of new communities of CBD knowledge and practice may be exponential.
When CBD enthusiasts come to social networks, their behavior there is rather different from local addicts. CBD people are fighting for a cause – improve themselves to stay healthy, clear-minded, and good-looking. Despite hostile to the CBD atmosphere in some social networks, CBD enthusiasts can actualize there their self-promotional and entrepreneurial potential. While social network addicts waste their time and play roles of uncompensated workers disguised as “liking” and “sharing,” CBD people share real knowledge and experience and grow their social capital.
It is the moment when brands appear on stage offering those CBD enthusiasts who are ready to play influencers’ roles to monetize their social capital. For themselves, brands can leverage newly formed and socially shared knowledge to improve CBD products and services dramatically. Naturally, they also hire new influencers to promote brands and products.
From Ideas to Business: Case Study
Technology is reshaping CBD customer expectations, creating the potential for disruption of incumbents’ businesses. Nowadays, many start-ups become disruptors, employing technology in their specific way to be competitive in the new CBD for the wellness market. The main technological trends in this market include:
- Intensifying R&D to win a race for innovative physical products that demonstrate added value to customers.
- Employing algorithms and machine learning techniques to educate customers quickly and cheaply.
- Using AI-enabled chatbots to guide customers through the whole purchasing process.
- Employing IoT technique to use information about customers’ preferences for modeling their behavior and customization of services.
The HealthWave.Center project is an example of a technology-enabled online platform that follows key technological trends of the CBD for the wellness market.  According to UCLA Health, CBD interacts via the endocannabinoid system. The latter is involved in a wide variety of processes within the human body and mind, including pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep, etc. Recent studies have shown that CBD receptors are plentiful in both the central nervous system and in the skin.  This allows transferring CBD-infused products through the skin with simultaneous massage for maximum results and minimal harm for liver.
As a result of R&D, HealthWave.Center offers a CBD applicator/stimulator/massager called Rub n’ Roll, a cheap, effective, and readily reusable device to apply a thin layer of CBD oil to the skin, while at the same time massaging the problem zones. It is designed to be placed on the top of the commercially available roll-on bottle (patent No 2019101191).
Within this case study, the competitive advantages of this CBD applicator are the following:
- Evidence-based effectiveness – According to modern research, it has been proved that combining focused massage and an application of the appropriate mix of oils is very effective.
- Simplicity and reliability of design: Rub n’ Roll is made in one piece from food-grade silicon, without moving parts and electronic components.
- Gentleness for the skin: Because of the rows of tines of Rub n’ Roll made of elastically-deformable silicon and bend when a customer press it onto the skin.
- Opportunity for topical application of CBD oil: To avoid some negative side effects associated with taking it orally such as harm for the liver and dizziness.
- Economical: Rib n’ Roll applies a thin layer of oils on the skin.
- Convenient: The applicator can be used at home or office, during traveling, even in a tub or shower.
Health Wave Center offers three interrelated digital services:
- Before purchase – Facilitated Product Awareness (fully digital self-service with the Navigator):
- To identify wellness concerns.
- To find the best solutions.
- Check safety precautions.
- To select products.
- During purchase – Guided Customer Journey (digitally-enabled service with the AI- bot):
- To provide customers with human-like conversation and fulfill reasonable requests during the buying process.
- To control delivery.
- To deal with issues.
- To collect data to consistently customize and improve Health Wave services.
- After purchase – Customer Engagement:
- To link to ‘how to’ instruction materials.
- To order consumables.
- To rate and review products.
- To participate in events.
The Wellness Knowledge Base supplies customers with information helping to better comprehend wellness problems and deliver its highly relevant HealthWave solutions. The Knowledge Base includes scientifically-proven data and leading experts’ recommendations. The HealthWave Navigator is designed to screen all possible combinations of the Knowledge Base categories to identify potential opportunities and make the best buying decisions. The Navigator’s algorithm works within each category through the smart filtering process, and customize its results.
The AI-enabled bot:
- Proposing special offers and coupons to customers who are about to exit the e-store.
- Reminding customers about their abandoned shopping carts and encouraging them to complete the purchasing process.
- Collecting customers’ feedback to improve the whole service.
- Track customer conversions with statistics and reporting.
HealthWave QR Smart Labels add QR-coded information to the packages. Unpacking orders and scanning QR codes with smartphones or tablets, customers:
- Reveal relevant information about Rub n’ Roll and consumables’ authenticity.
- Immediately direct to e-shops of verified oils and serums suppliers.
- Receive invitations to take part in HealthWave events.
Summarizing the case study, we can see that HealthWave Center offers four levels of customer engagement: educating consumers about possible CBD for wellness applications, stimulate customers to include CBD products in their daily routine, providing evidence of products’ effectiveness, asking customers to co-research, and encouraging customers’ feedback, rating, and reviewing of products through social networks.
- Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report: Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. The World Health Organization. Geneva. Published Online: June 4, 2018. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf (accessed Sept 1, 2020).
- What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Published Online: May 3, 2020. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis (accessed Sept 1, 2020).
- Wheeler M, et al. CBD (Cannabidiol) product attitudes, knowledge, and use among young adults. Journal Substance Use & Misuse. 2020; 55(7): 1138-1145.
- Paul V. WellTech valuation: Forecasting the HealthWave.Center’s scalability. TechInvest. Published Online: Sept. 25, 2020. https://techinvest.online/welltech-valuation-forecasting-the-healthwave-centers-scalability/ (accessed Sept 1, 2020).
- Rangaves D. How CBD works: The endocannabinoid system. Leafreport. Published Online: Aug 13, 2020. https://www.leafreport.com/education/how-cbd-works-the-endocannabinoid-system-1689 (accessed Sept 1, 2020).