Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Voyager’s response to the cost of living and climate crises brings CBD to new customers

Affordability and CBD—two words not often heard together, especially when teamed with ‘under £10’. This, however,  is one of the twin drivers for Scottish CBD brand Voyager’s move into refillables, along with environmental priorities.

Now three months into the ‘CBD Refillery’ project, Voyager’s CEO Nick Tulloch has observed that the lower price point is bringing CBD products to new customers. “Although it’s still early days the refillables have definitely opened up a new customer base.  Both psychologically and factually, a sub-£10 purchase is more popular with those new to CBD as well as people who (not unreasonably) don’t want to spend too much on a new product.

“As the refillables were a new range for us, we can’t specifically say that customers are switching (we don’t have shampoo and conditioner elsewhere in our range) but it is definitely widening our appeal.”

Mr Tulloch explains how it all began: “We’ve always tried to be environmentally friendly in what we do, so this was where the thought-process started, but it was actually a conversation with a retailer along the lines of—they would like to stock CBD but (in their shop anyway) they felt it wouldn’t succeed unless the RRP was less than £10. 

CEO Nick Tulloch with some of Voyager’s original, pre-packaged CBD range; he is delighted with progress on the new range of refillables

“That got us thinking about how to make a range within that price point but without compromising on quality or size.

“The idea was to create a CBD range that is accessible to all, especially in the current cost of living crisis. Keeping everything under £10 was a key criteria for us.”

Perth-based Voyager has its own shops in Dundee, St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, which gives the brand the flexibility to try out new approaches and get immediate customer feedback. “Without control over our own retail space, launching something innovative that needs a bit of space probably wouldn’t have been possible,” Mr Tulloch explains.

In addition, Voyager has its own manufacturing facility in Perth, so can control the process from start to finish.

While refillable consumer products are increasingly common in the food and skincare sectors, as far as Mr Tulloch is aware, Voyager is the only CBD brand currently trading in this way.

The approach Voyager has taken is to supply fully-recyclable aluminium 250ml and 500ml bottles which customers can use in return for a £2 refundable deposit. These can be filled from dispensers in Voyager’s shops.

Voyager’s recyclable aluminium bottles in two sizes can be used by customers in return for a £2 deposit

There is no increased profit margin for Voyager, as the priority was to keep the price affordable for customers. “There is a saving on having no outer packaging and using simple labels, all of which we pass onto the customer.”

Voyager has created a new range of products specially for this project, and its pre-existing lines continue to be sold ready-packaged, not as refillables.

There are eight products at present in the refillable range—two shampoos, two conditioners and four hand and body washes. Mr Tulloch says that more products will be added: “The next step is to most likely extend our bath range which stays consistent with our existing refillable products. Bath salts are one possibility as is a bath oil or moisturisers/body butters. Widening the range of shampoos and conditioners is possible too.”

Mr Tulloch says he is discussion with another retailer about selling Voyager refillables in their shops. He outlines another possibility: “We do have guest brands in Voyager shops so I wouldn’t rule out adding a guest brand to the refillable range in the future, but that’s not something that we have discussed so far.”

A further option under consideration is offering the service to online customers as well.

With some 50 products across its Voyager and Ascend Skincare brands, Voyager claims to have one of the largest ranges of CBD products in the UK. Within its own shops, 270 SKUs are available for sale, including four third-party brands. The plan is to keep extending its own ranges, as Mr Tulloch outlines: “We are in the latter stages of finalising a further extension to our ‘environmentally friendly and packaging-lite’ range. It’s another everyday bathroom product with CBD, and will be priced in line with the refillables. As for Ascend, we launched two new products a few weeks ago, and our plan is to more or less double the range by the end of the year.”

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