March 25, 2019 by Sujay Seetharaman

1. CVS introduces CBD-infused products

Drugstore chain CVS has introduced CBD (Cannabidiol) infused products at select stores in 8 states. The products include creams, sprays, roll-ons, lotions and salves and are available in Kentucky, Alabama, Illinois, California, Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, and Tennessee. CVS however, said that it isn’t selling any CBD-based food supplements or additives as CBD is still banned under FDA regulations. The legal Cannabis market is valued at approximately $12 billion today and is expected to increase fourteen-fold in the next six years. It seems like everyone from cannabis start-ups to real estate providers to retailers seem to want to join the party!

2. Sainsbury’s and Asda persuade CMA for the merger

Supermarket groups Sainsbury’s and Asda have offered to sell off 150 stores and 38 petrol stations in a bid to persuade the competitive watchdog to agree to the proposed £7bn merger. In a strongly worded statement, the CMA had said previously that the merger would create a “substantial lessening of competition at both a national and local level”. The supermarket groups say the sale of stores and petrol stations would give the opportunity for new entrants to come in or allow smaller rivals to expand rapidly.

3. Amazon blocks unprofitable ads

Amazon has been telling its vendors and brand owners who sell wholesale that they cannot continue to advertise if their products aren’t profitable to Amazon. According to CNBC, from conversations with vendors and emails they received from Amazon as well as from outside experts, Amazon has asked advertisers to reduce the cost of their products and submit a lower cost for reinstatement, clearly reflecting its emphasis on ‘cost reduction’. Third-party sellers continue to remain unaffected by this crackdown.

4. Whole Foods’ first ‘beauty swap’

The Whole Body department at Whole Foods is offering high-quality beauty and personal care products – all of which meet industry standards that ban more than 100 ingredients – in its market swap event next month. The announcement comes just a few days after Amazon launched it’s first sustainable, skin care product ‘Belei’. Whole foods aren’t the first player to see an opportunity in educating customers about clean beauty. Target recently launched its clean logo on a select line of products and CVS plans to remove all potentially toxic ingredients from its in-house line of baby care and personal brands by the end of this year.

5. Tencent to launch WeChat pay in India

Tencent is launching its mobile payment service WeChat pay in India. It has reportedly met with the National Payments Corporation of India to obtain a license for its payments app and has already partnered with three Indian banks – Axis, HDFC and ICICI and plans to launch the app by the end of June. Tencent would be the latest player – alongside Xiaomi and Reliance Jio – to jump aboard the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) bandwagon after incumbents like Amazon, Google, Paytm, and PhonePe.

Sujay Seetharaman

Market Analyst @ PipeCandy

Currently donning the Researcher's hat. Talks to himself.