According to a new commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting among Marketing leaders in the US, over 75% of mainstream brands are interested in cannabis consumer data to better understand and reach new and existing customers. And Jackson Jeyanayagam, VP, GM DTC, The Clorox Company is one of them. 

Jackson is a marketing veteran who has served as Chief Marketing Officer at Boxed and Head of Digital at Chipotle. Now leading DTC at The Clorox Company, he is one of the many ambitious marketing leaders enamored with the economic and creative possibilities surrounding the world of cannabis consumers. 

Jeff Ragovin, Chief Commercial Officer at Fyllo, sat down with Jackson on a recent episode of Alchemy to discuss the recent launch of the Clorox-owned Burt’s Bees CBD line and why cannabis audiences are the new gateway to growth for traditional brands.

Jeff Ragovin: Can you give us some insight into the launch of the Burt’s Bees CBD line? 

Jackson Jeyanayagam: We launched the CBD line back in October and it’s been awesome. It’s still early, we’re just two months in. As we all know, as a CBD brand we are limited in some capacity to how we can market and who we can talk to so it’s going to take a while to get some reliable data in, but some early signs show some really great interest and actions from certain kinds of consumers. We know that there is a whole new audience out there that we haven’t been able to talk to or resonate with and now we are able to do so. 

The beautiful thing is that Burt’s Bees already has such an amazing brand following. People love the brand, what we stand for, and how we give back. It’s a nice combination of a brand that people already love and a brand offering something new that a lot of people are trying out and testing in a way that these other competitors haven’t been able to. Brand loyalty for Burt’s Bees has really extended into the CBD line and excitement for it, but the challenges are definitely there.

As I mentioned, limited marketing opportunities, and also certain states that we cannot send products to still even though there’s a lot of interest from them. There have been some great opportunities to leverage audiences in a new way and extend to different audiences in ways that we couldn’t find otherwise that I think is super exciting and I think that is the area, combined with legislature changes at the federal level, to get more education and information on CBD consumers. The timing of all this is continuing to be great for us to scale and build out, but it is not like launching a beverage or even alcohol. It’s much more difficult, but also much more exciting because there’s more unknown and untested ground.

Jeff Ragovin: CBD and cannabis are on a massive trajectory and we’ve seen a massive adoption of the mainstream world happen so quickly. You have got a headstart but you’re not just serving millennials, but you’re talking to grandparents, boomers, etc. 

Jackson Jeyanayagam: It’s psychographics, not demographics, and it’s one that spans everyone from eighty-year-olds with grandkids to eighteen-year-olds that like the lotions. There’s still a lot of learning to do and the role of the big brands is to help educate. When was the last time you saw a new category like this? I would say the last time is probably plant-based foods. 

Jeff Ragovin: You recently were featured in an AdAge whitepaper that focused on why cannabis audiences are the new gateway to growth for big brands. Which insights did you share?

Jackson Jeyanayagam: From a brand’s perspective, you have this proliferation of a new category. There’s a great opportunity for us to build new brands, tell new stories, develop new packaging, and create amazing ways to relate to the consumer through commodities. If you take that and build off of new data and insights about the new consumers we can be so focused on our targeting, that now we have the best of both worlds that we haven’t seen before. 

To learn more about why leaders like The Clorox Company are using cannabis and CBD audiences to accelerate growth, watch our on-demand webinar

It’s a great way for the brands to not only learn about tapping into new audiences, but to also cross and upsell them into new categories in a way that they never had never, and to also set the standard of how this category should be talked about and discussed, but not over-engineered either. I think a lot of these smaller organizations can help the big brands understand how to do it right. I truly believe just like DTC as a distribution channel has made big brands think about how they go to market differently, CBD will do something similar in making brands change the way they think about going to market. 

Jeff Ragovin: You’re in a place right now where you have the advantage of being a traditional brand and then the first-mover advantage of moving into a niche that some people have not explored yet. 

Jackson Jeyanayagam: Exactly right. You summed it up really well. We have the big brand and the scale, the research, the resources, the budget. Being DTC, we can also get CBD products up off the ground running faster than in retail. Getting in products in retail stores will be the best thing that can happen when people go back to stores like normal. Having those products on the shelves, there’s nothing more powerful. Pure play DTC is awesome, but pure plat DTC is even better when it can be found in stores. 

I was able to do it first on DTC for all the reasons you mentioned about being nimble and leveraging our product range to the market. I think that’s what’s going to be super cool about this category is that there will be more and more of that that will offer access and proof points so it can be taken more seriously. Once you start seeing it in retail stores, there’s a whole consumer mind shift. Think about what happened with the non-dairy milk alternatives. When it crossed over into the mainstream in Costo and Kroger, that’s when it became real. 

Jeff Ragovin: According to MRI-Simmons, 61 million consume cannabis or CBD and 181 million believe that cannabis has many health benefits. Traditional brands that have no CBD or THC products want to target people who are cannabis consumers because they offer a new opportunity to drive market share because of their unique behaviors and attributes. As you look forward five years from now, what do you think Clorox’s role will be in this space?

Jackson Jeyanayagam: The untapped market and the total addressable market is what we know now, but the consideration set of the audience is massive. There are so many more people to get to and it’s a lifestyle. It’s a massive opportunity and a shift for a lot of brands, but for the ones that figure it out and lean into it, there’s massive potential there. As far as Clorox and Burt’s Bees, I can’t really speak to the future but I can say that everyone is excited about the Burt’s Bees CBD line across the whole organization. We are so excited to see what happens in this coming year and that’s what’s going to dictate a lot of what else we can do. On the supplement and health and wellness side, that’s going to be a huge opportunity for us that we have already talked about. 

Listen to the full episode here.

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