Interview: How A CBD Retailer Engages Consumers With A Narrative On Plant-Derived Wellness
Standard Dose provides research-backed resources for its CBD customers, aiming to generate conversation as well as community around its curation of wellness products while setting standards in a yet unregulated space
As the rise of the wellness movement dovetails with the increasing destigmatization of cannabis products and recently, the passing of the Farm Bill, hemp-based CBD has found runaway success as a health ingredient in everything from beauty and skincare to snacks and beverages. New York-based Standard Dose is one retailer looking to cut through the noise in the CBD space, offering a tightly curated selection of products alongside informative guides to ingredients and usage.
PSFK spoke to founder Anthony Saniger about the responsibility he feels to set a new standard for consumer education around plant-based medicine as a whole, and his brand's plans to expand from ecommerce into a chain of physical stores that can double as community gathering spaces.
PSFK: Could you describe any broader trends that you see in the CBD retail space, and how your company fits into it?
Anthony: I definitely see a lot of companies stepping into the space after the Farm Bill passed. As I was trying to curate products, I tested over 250 different brands. From then, but even since the Farm Bill passed, there have been about 40 to 50 new players jumping into the space. It's definitely getting crowded.
I think one of the keys is the lack of regulation, the lack of rules and requirements. One of the things that spurred the creation of Standard Dose was questions people needed answered. How should consumers be using the products? What's the recommended dosage? What are the facts?
Those are the things that we looked for and wanted to help answer for consumers to create standards. We also do third‑party testing on them as well, to make sure that what they say is actually true.
Can you explain the experience of shopping with Standard Dose from the customer’s point of view? How do they access that kind of educational information?
We try to emphasize educational components on The Drop, our blog in the editorial section of the site. We offer a glossary of CBD terms. People hear terpenes, they hear cannabinoids, and cannabidiol, and don't necessarily know what they mean. On our product pages, we also have the information about the product that’s been verified by multiple sources, not just the brand in question. We also have a “How to Use” section. Finally, there's the “Why We Love It”, which explains why we curated the product.
That's what we do on our site. Then we also have people coming to our social media channels and sending us DMs. Everyone who orders online gets a note card in the package that says, “If you have any questions, feel free to reach to us. You can follow us on Instagram and we'll respond to you on how to use the product. If you have questions as you're using it, feel free to reach out to us.”
Finally, in our brick-and-mortar locations, we have educated people who work there to guide customers. Their primary purpose and the purpose of the store is to function as an educational tool about wellness. Our goal with the retail experience is not to sell anything, but it's there to let customers test the products and help them understand how it works. Then they can buy if they would like, but that's not the primary purpose.
How do you manage the responsibility of having to provide reliable information and resources?
We always steer away from medical advice. We try to refer customers back to their medical professional where possible.
We’ll make product recommendations where we can unless it's related to a major health concern. We don't touch that area—that’s FDA territory. At the same time, we do talk about anecdotal experiences in our community and focus groups.
Do you think that brands in the space have a responsibility to do more than just provide access to alternative health treatments?
I think every brand chooses to go about it in a different way. Some are quieter than others in efforts to destigmatize CBD. For me and for our brand, it's important that we don't get caught up in the marijuana culture as much, while other brands do want to.
Our approach is a little bit subtler. We don't use the word weed or the word pot. We talk about marijuana as a plant and we talk about the cannabis family of plants, but we don't get into the negative connotations of this.
Standard Dose has private-label products as well as third‑party brands. Could you describe your merchandising strategy?
Right now, we have just our own private label tincture. Then we curate the best brands on the market.
If we are designing, it has to be products that are missing from the market or something very valuable for our customers that does not exist. There are still a lot of areas where CBD can be incorporated, but if other products already exist, we would much rather [sell that]. We're not manufacturers.
But there have been occasions, for example, with our tincture, where I could not find a great MCT oil‑based isolates that was flavorless and scentless. Personally, I don't love the taste of hemp. It was important to me that I had something that I could mix into my everyday drink. I can add it to my tea without changing the flavor, or I can mix it into my green juice in the morning. Because I could not find that from the market in the milligrams that I was looking for, we created that product.
How do you envision the future of CBD? What gaps do you see in the market?
There's going to be regulation at some point. There are going to be some rules around this and what claims retailers can make. I think products in the food and beverage category are going to have the hardest time.
I hope the FDA and a lot of those players rule on the side of CBD being more of a nutritional supplement or dietary supplement. I think that's the right category for this. At the same time, for this type of product and for where the world is going to go, as we have more and more research, we're going to understand a little bit better what other ingredients, terpenes and other cannabinoids, can be included with CBD that allow for better efficacy.
Do you think that the best way to consume CBD hasn't been invented yet? What will be the next big thing?
Food and beverage as well as transdermal patches have the highest absorption. The bioaviability in the patches is 100%. It's the best way to receive CBD in the body. We know that right now. We'll see what happens on the regulation side.
With more research, we're going to be able to figure out better ways to use the product. Right now, we know it's effective and it works, but we'll get even smarter about that and we'll have better products on the market in the next year or so.
What do the next five years hold for Standard Dose?
It's about building these communities for talking about plant‑based medicine as a whole. We will definitely move into a space where our community knows that it can trust the products that we have.
We'll also definitely be rolling out multiple retail locations. Our first one will be in Manhattan in the NoMad neighborhood, but we'll be rolling this out into multiple cities. We’re creating communities [for consumers] who are all like‑minded and are interested in the story that we're telling.
Standard Dose is differentiating itself in the booming CBD space by prioritizing education as well as generating wellness-focused conversation. For more from similar innovators, see PSFK's reports and newsletters.