Erick Dickens is co-founder and CEO of Kadenwood, a planet-based wellness company focused on shaping CBD into a trusted and safe mainstream wellness category. As CEO, he credits his training in consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) companies with shaping his ability to lead Kadenwood as an innovator in developing new CBD products and experiences. Below is his insight.
Kimberly Whitler: What did you learn in CPG that you are reapplying in CBD?
Erick Dickens: The Kadenwood team is stacked with highly accomplished CPG executives with proven success developing and launching new products, building leading brands and creating successful partnerships at retail.
Successful CPG companies start with well branded quality products that deliver unique benefits to distinct consumer segments. Many early-stage brands in the CBD industry took a “one size fits all” approach to consumer positioning which limits a brands ability to develop deep consumer connections. We have developed or acquired a total of 5 consumer brands each with a distinct consumer position.
One of the most important elements of our product innovation and development that set us apart from most in the industry is our products are formulated with active ingredients that make them effective even without the addition of CBD. This approach is more expensive and time consuming, but necessary to ensure the consumer experience with our products delivers against both their conventional expectations and the added benefits of CBD.
The traditional rules of success at retail apply to the CBD industry and we assembled the resources needed to deliver results including: National TV and radio advertising, celebrity influencers, retail promotion and digital marketing.
Whitler: What did you have to adapt from CPG that needed tweaking for CBD?
Dickens: Advertising…The CBD industry is still very much restricted in most forms of media. TV and radio will only allow advertising of topical products and many social media platforms don’t allow CBD ads. The highly regulated media landscape has meant a greater reliance on earned media and influencer marketing to help educate consumers and build brand awareness.
The other challenge in this industry is the lack of a fully-developed supply chain. In order to ensure ingredient quality and reliability of supply, we acquired the EcoGen Bioscience business as well as a stake in a co-manufacturer. This complete vertical integration also provides a strategic cost of goods advantage that facilitates price leadership of our consumer brands at retail—which is essential to making CBD products accessible to a broader market.
Whitler: What are the results so far?
Dickens: We have built the largest mainstream retail distribution network in the entire CBD industry in just over two years. In fact, at least one of our consumer brands is available at all major retail doors currently selling CBD, and in many cases two and in some cases three. Kadenwood has also built the fastest-growing direct to consumer business with over 100% growth vs. year ago and repeat rates above 40%.
Whitler: Where are you going next?
Dickens: We are determined to emerge as the industry’s dominant leader and will continue to develop and strengthen the direct to consumer and retail business. We are also exploring ways to bring other plant-based consumer products to market that include ingredients containing cannabinoid minors like CBG and CBN as well as hemp-based proteins and fibers.
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