Transforming the CBD marketplace: PotNetwork’s exclusive interview with Youngevity President and CFO Dave Briskie
Youngevity is the California cannabis company that sparked conversation last month after announcing an exclusive cross-marketing agreement with Icelandic Glacial. It marked a huge step into one of the fastest-growing markets in the industry: CBD-infused beverages. But Youngevity is veering completely away from the norm with their approach.
Youngevity’s unique business model is inspired by direct-selling. They use individuals and social media rather than retail stores to sell products. Two years ago, Dave Briskie, CFO and President of Youngevity, along with CEO Steve Wallach, reformulated the company’s business model to re-define the direct-selling space and combine it with e-commerce and influencer marketing.
PotNetwork was able to catch up with CFO Dave Briskie to talk about Youngevity’s goals with their branding revolution and what’s in store for the future of CBD.
What can direct-selling do for the CBD industry?
From Briskie’s perspective, direct-selling has the potential to change the way CBD products are marketed and sold. And Youngevity’s deal with Icelandic Glacial is just another step toward changing the future of the CBD market.
“We have a segwayed from a fully-vertical coffee business and a direct-selling company to now launching a line under HempFX with the ambition to make a bigger statement and leave a larger footprint in the hemp-related products industry,” he explained.
Youngevity does have its roots in coffee. This makes Briskie and his team well-versed in the culture and technology of cultivation-based industries, but CBD-infused coffee is not the company’s opening move. As the cannabis market starts to come into its own this year, Youngevity wants to change the way people buy CBD before they start infusing it with beverages.
This is why Youngevity bills themselves as an omni-direct lifestyle company. The intention is to create something that goes beyond logging onto a website and adding CBD products to a shopping cart. Youngevity wants to create a conversation between their sellers and their consumers that means something.
“Referral-based selling is always going to be around because, frankly, when someone tells us to try a restaurant, and they’re somebody I care about and trust, then I’m going to visit that restaurant. That style of selling works very well,” Briskie said. “Youngevity really hits all the channels that touch direct selling...We’re in a large swath of consumer products, and we believe that gives us a significant competitive edge.”
And Youngevity’s channels surpass that of coffee, CBD, and even CBD-infused coffee. Youngevity is one of the few direct-selling companies that is focused on more than one market. In fact, the company is integrated into nine different vertical markets that are all focused on wellness and health, CBD being just one of them.
Briskie gives us a closer look at Youngevity’s business relationship with cannabis
Youngevity officially entered the cannabis industry last October when they launched their HempFX brand online with three new products: Soothe, for pain, Uplift, for stress, and Relax, for anxiety and sleep.
“The founding principles of the company were always built on plant-derived nutrition, and that’s why the HempFX line became so appealing to us,” Briskie explained to PotNetwork. “[We’re] talking about another ingredient that’s plant-derived.”
Natural health and wellness are at the core of Youngevity’s business model. For Briskie, it is not about being an anti-drug company. It is all about providing healthy, all-natural alternatives first. If hemp-derived CBD can provide relief for consumers before they have to risk any potential reactions from taking various drugs and medicine, then Youngevity will deliver. That is why their first three CBD products target three over-prescribed human conditions.
Briskie sees CBD as a natural fit because it coincides with the company’s modern vision of wellness while simultaneously speaking directly to their direct-sales marketing approach. The company was able to arm their team of sellers and their websites with the information and educational resources consumers were looking for, and it is starting to pay off.
“When you have a product that creates that kind of health impact in your life, it spreads very very quickly in this type of selling platform,” Briskie said of his sales team.
He continued: “The reaction was curious in the beginning, but now it’s starting to morph into something more passionate. That tells you that the products work, and at the end of the day we have to deliver the benefits that consumers can feel.”
Being able to purchase CBD products from sellers they can talk to and trust makes a world of difference for consumers. Just last year, over $300 million in CBD products were sold through direct-selling channels. And with the recent passing of the farm bill, that number could potentially reach into the billions by this same time next year. “We’re scraping the surface just like everyone else with new products like this,” Briskie said of the market’s potential.
What will Youngevity and Icelandic Glacial bring to the CBD industry?
So where does Icelandic Glacial fit into the plan, long term? As a company that advertises itself as “the purest tasting water on earth,” it should not surprise investors that they were Youngevity’s first choice for partnership. According to Briskie, they were the only choice.
“It really is the only water company we would have ever considered doing a deal with because it really is in line with our message of living younger longer,” he said. “We’re really excited to have a vision that aligns with a company that produces such a quality product naturally and be able to take on our mineral know-how and CBD capabilities.”
But creating a CBD beverage is the long-term vision. Short term, Briskie and his team are working on CBD powders that can be blended with Icelandic Glacial water. Currently, Youngevity offers a line of plant-derived nutritional powders, and CBD is anticipated to be the next logical step. For now, at least, until Youngevity perfects their technology.
“Getting the technologies right in this industry is something we believe we are going to get the lead on,” Briskie told PotNetwork, noting that consumers instinctively look for a label they can trust when buying wellness products.
“We are going to make sure that the consumer is delivered the experience that is promised,” he said.
Are you looking for more? Pick up a copy of next month’s PotNetwork Magazine to read the rest of the interview and Briskie’s predictions for the market.