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WHAT HAPPENED: Simon Property Group, Neiman Marcus, Sephora and Barney’s all want a part in the CBD and cannabis craze taking over the wellness economy, despite skepticism from health professionals, legal scrutiny and the risks of buying into a viral trend.

Why it matters

  • As CBD continues to woo consumers, Simon Property Group is embracing the trend, opening its doors to Green Growth Brands, a CBD product retailer, which will forge an offline footprint at 108 of the company’s U.S. malls. While Neiman Marcus and Sephora have also pivoted to selling CBD brands, Barney’s is taking on its cousin, opening a permanent “cannabis lifestyle shop” called The High End in Beverly Hills in March.

  • CBD’s purported health benefits continue to raise skepticism, and the FDA still dictates that CBD is illegal when used as a food additive. At the same time, there is great confusion emanating from consumers about the effects of CBD and cannabis, not to mention the difference between the compounds. Luxury retailers’ interest in this market raises questions about their intentions—is it simply to grasp at relevance in a fast-changing consumer economy?—but may be poised for greater success than other players in the consumer economy. Their reputation as established, premium brands will help cultivate trust with consumers trying out these products for the first time, as long as the price point doesn’t dissuade them. Still, these retailers need to place education at the forefront of retail. Barney’s is thoughtfully limiting the number of cannabis accessories, edibles and beauty products sold online through The High End to prevent cannabis misuse and others should follow suit.

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