Could Martha Stewart Convince Older Americans to Try CBD?

Cannabis giant Canopy Growth targets female baby boomers for domestic doyenne's latest products

Stewart is the latest celebrity to wade into the CBD space. Martha Stewart CBD
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By her own assessment, Martha Stewart has adapted well to quarantine. The doyenne of the good life, who has split her lockdown time between lush country estates, has launched a TV show and released a cake-tastic cookbook.

And for her latest product, a CBD line with Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth, she’s prepared to help everyday folks achieve her trademark level of domestic serenity. (Or at least clean up a few messes).

Stewart, via a social media promotion called “Martha on Demand,” will answer direct messages about home-based disasters like inedible dinners and bowl haircuts. She’ll also dole out vouchers and discounts for her branded gummies, oil drops and capsules that aim to take the edge off consumers’ Covid-related chaos.

“The program is tapping into the calm that Martha’s known for,” said Steven Leung, the brand’s marketing director. “It’s a very literal interpretation of finding your inner Martha.”

Magnet for sports, music and Hollywood

Stewart, a master at building brands in the media and lifestyle arenas, is jumping into a category that’s already rife with boldface names. Former pro athletes like Ricky Williams and Magic Johnson, artists and musicians (Carlos Santana, Tommy Chong) and actors (Kristen Bell, Gwyneth Paltrow) have waded into CBD, either as owner-partners or endorsers.

But star power doesn’t necessarily equal success in a field of some 3,000 CBD brands on the market, industry experts said. (Whoopi & Maya, from Whoopi Goldberg, has come and gone, to name just one flameout).

“Hiring a celebrity can drive awareness, so it’s viewed as a quick win,” said Bethany Gomez, managing director of research firm Brightfield. “But it’s an expensive deal for brands, and overall the results are fairly mixed.”

CBD makers that align with well-known personalities can give themselves “a headline, a lift in the short term” said Gomez. But these alliances do not necessarily translate into long-term loyalty. “Celebrities haven’t been game-changing for the [CBD] industry.”

None of the top 20 best-selling CBD brands are owned by celebrities, according to Brightfield’s data. Still, a few on that list have occasionally used famous spokesmen (the NFL’s Rob Gronkowski stumped for CBD Medic, for instance).

Canna-curious and CBD newbies

Stewart’s line could make a mark, Gomez said, because it targets an older, more conservative female demo, which tends not to be the bullseye cannabis consumer. Brightfield identifies those middle-age women as “aging ailers” as consumers who turn to CBD for chronic pain relief and general wellbeing.

Having a celebrity spokesperson or owner “is not a failsafe plan in this category by any stretch,” Gomez said. But Stewart may bring in “a largely open consumer group.”

Canopy is counting on it. The conglomerate, with backing from U.S. beverage conglomerate Constellation Brands, is “trying to generate a leadership position in the CBD space” by reaching out to baby boomer women who haven’t yet tried CBD but are already loyal to Stewart.

“We’re inviting this demo that’s curious but on the fence,” he said. “If products have Martha’s blessing, these consumers might just participate.”

Martha in your DMs

There will be a number of marketing programs for Martha Stewart CBD, beginning Wednesday with the social stunt, “Martha on Demand/In Your DMs,” hyped across media channels like Cosmopolitan, The Skimm, Good Housekeeping and Women’s Health.

The first 500 consumers who tag Stewart on Instagram will get a $45 voucher for the products and “bespoke advice” from the guru, with additional fans receiving promo codes for a 25% discount. (Those tips, by the way, will be chosen from about 70 responses that Canopy’s social team has banked from Stewart).

@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.