Review: Queen City Hemp CBD Seltzer

Posted: Jan 24, 2019 at 1:59 PM (Last Updated: Jan 28, 2019 at 11:38 AM)

Covers Products: Blood Orange - CBD Seltzer, Guava - CBD Seltzer, Lemon Lavender - CBD Seltzer, Passion Fruit - CBD Seltzer

Queen City Hemp, a Cincinnati-based company that produces hemp based products, launched its first beverage in August 2017: CBD Seltzer, an unsweetened flavored sparkling water that is available in four flavors and contains 5 mg of CBD per can. Queen City Hemp CBD Seltzer is available nationwide as of this month. 

For the purposes of this review, we sampled four flavors: Guava, Passion Fruit, Blood Orange and Lemon Lavender. The core product is a straightforward flavored sparkling water that is made with carbonated water, natural flavor and potassium sorbate. Like other products that follow this approach, CBD Seltzer is zero calories and sugar free.

From a taste perspective, all four of the flavors are enjoyable. However, there isn’t anything overly memorable or distinctive about them, either. We think that this is something that creates risk for this brand as the CBD beverage category continues to get more crowded and competitive.

On that same note, we think that the branding really needs some work. Presently, the products feature a shrink sleeve label and an aesthetic that feels very simple, but not chic. On top of that, it’s very in-your-face about the fact that this is a CBD enhanced product. It’s a stark contrast to some of its competitors, which have more lifestyle oriented brands and a certain amount of “cool” to them.

For Queen City Hemp, there’s an early mover advantage to this product being out there right now. However, as that goes away, likely before 2019 is over, this product risks becoming commoditized as the brand doesn’t feel strong enough.

Fortunately, there’s still time for Queen City Hemp to adapt. Employing some creative help to build out the brand is a logical next step for this product and, as part of this, we’d strongly suggest a different name than “CBD Seltzer.” We’d also suggest that they eliminate the callout to “all natural energy,” as this is something that isn’t substantiated and will probably just make consumers expect to see caffeine content.

In the end, Queen City Hemp’s initial iteration of CBD Seltzer is a fine and enjoyable product. But we think that that there’s a bigger opportunity if the brand can evolve into something that is a bit more engaging.

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