The CBD Market Consumer Research: A Guide to Become a Smart Consumer

In a fast-growing, unregulated market, that keeps getting inconsistent and confusing especially when it comes to prices and potencies, our goal by creating this in-depth report is to define clear guidelines that will help consumers shop wisely
CBD consumer report

There has been a virtual explosion in the CBD market over the last 18 months that has resulted in a significant variation in products’ prices and potencies.

Amid this wild, wild west scenario, it is becoming more apparent that consumers need a definitive guide to shop wisely, particularly in the face of scant regulation.

To that end, we’ve compiled this ambitious market report comparing over 3,500 products — including tinctures, gummies, capsules, pet treats, topicals, isolates, vaporizers, and bundles — from more than 53 brands.

 

Table of Contents

 

How We are Trying to Help

We here at Leafreport are seeing what you are seeing and our purpose is to help you figure out what your best choices are, and help you compare and contrast different products that can help you achieve your goals.

We wanted to create a consumer guideline, a series of benchmarks that could be used to compare quantity, potency and prices of various CBD products.

We looked at the price (in US dollars per mg of CBD) and created a 3-category price index (A, B & C) so we could more easily compare brands:

  • A – “Bargain grade”– prices in this category range from $0.01-$0.079/mg CBD
  • B – “Market grade” – prices in the market grade category range from $0.08-$0.149/mg CBD
  • C- “Pricy grade” – prices were those above $0.15/mg CBD

We also looked at potency or concentration. These were for liquids in mg of CBD per mL of fluid. FYI, 2 fluid ounces are equivalent to almost 60 mL (59.15mL to be precise). Conversely, 1mL (or dropperful) is equivalent to 0.03 fluid ounces. To put this into better perspective 1 teaspoon is equivalent to 0.17 fluid ounces and almost 5 mL (4.93 mL).

Keep in mind, the CBD market is “fluid” to say the least. These data points were collected in November of 2019. Holiday sales, discounts, coupons or subscription prices were not taken into account. Also, we don’t independently test these products but rely instead on their self-reported 3rd party lab results.

 

Here is a breakdown:

Tinctures

Tinctures, or CBD extracts in a fluid medium, are the mainstay of the CBD industry. The term “tincture” is often used synonymously with CBD oil.

Tinctures, or oils, have a number of advantages. They can be very simple to use. You can put a few drops under your tongue to let the CBD “soak in” quickly or you can directly swallow the product.

You can also mix the CBD mixture with another food or drink and even use it on your skin. Tinctures can allow for more precise dosing since it is easier for most consumers to measure half a dropper full than half a capsule.

 

Pricing

Price discrepancy between the least and most expensive brands: 1,000%.

Average Price per mg of CBD: $0.12.

Least Expensive Brand: Plain Jane, with an average cost of $0.03/mg CBD. The company is not USDA certified and it is not clear what extraction method they use. Followed by Lazarus Naturals with an average cost of $0.04/mg CBD. The company is not USDA certified and are using Ethanol as their extraction methods which is considered the cheaper one (in comparison to CO2).

Most Expensive Brand: Diamond CBD, with a cost of $0.32 price per mg CBD, significantly higher prices in the lower potency tinctures. The brand is not USDA certified and uses CO2 extraction methods.

Tinctures: Price segmentation

 

Potency

Most Common Potency: 33.33 mg of CBD per mL.

Lowest Potency: Diamond CBD at 0.83 mg/mL. Each 30mL bottle contains 24.9mg (~25mg) and costs $19.99, coming out to $0.8 per mg of CBD.

Highest Potency: Medical Marijuana with its Maximum Strength 10g CBD Hemp Oil at 450mg/mL.

 

Bottom Line for Tinctures:

There is a huge variation in price and often in potency with tinctures and with any CBD liquids. In general, companies that produce higher-quality CBD are often more expensive, but as this report shows, this is not always the case.

We are trying to help you determine if you really are paying for a quality product or something else, which unfortunately it looks like that’s the case.

 

Gummies

Gummies, often referred to as edibles, come in a variety of shapes, sizes, flavors, and consistencies. Some products are “gummier” than others!

Since tinctures are in a liquid form, they can also be absorbed relatively quickly. Gummies, however, take effect more slowly since they have to be digested and metabolized.

However, they often tend to provide longer-lasting effects.

 

Pricing

Price discrepancy between the least and most expensive brands: 300%

Average Price per mg of CBD: $0.14.

Least Expensive Brand: CBDIstillery, with an average cost of $0.07 per mg CBD. The company is not USDA certified and uses CO2 extraction. Followed by JustCBD, with an average cost of $0.07 per mg CBD. JustCBD is not USDA certified and uses CO2 extraction.

Most Expensive Brand: LordJones. The price is $0.28 per mg CBD and the company does not have USDA certification. The manufacturer’s website provided no information on the extraction method used.

Note: The average overall price for gummies was $39 per unit (a box or a jar).

Gummies: Price segmentation

 

Potency

Most Common Potency: Most gummies jars/boxes contain around a total of 300 mg CBD. Individual items vary based on shapes and sizes in the package.

Lowest Potency: Green Roads sells the lowest potency with 25mg found in each CBD Froggie SOURZ

Highest Potency: JustCBD offers CBD gummies in jars that have a total of 3000 mg of CBD per item.

 

Bottom Line for Gummies:

Gummies are a convenient, easy and often delicious way of getting your CBD. There is quite a bit of variation in how much CBD per gummy you are getting along with a huge variation in pricing. In addition, it is pretty easy to adjust the dosing of a gummy because you can cut them into halves and quarters and adjust your total intake to reflect your goals. Flavors can be important in gummies, especially since it can be fun to find your favorite flavor!

 

CBD For Pets

We don’t know much about giving CBD to dogs, and even less to cats, but pet care is becoming a major selling point for CBD.

Many pet owners are relying on CBD oil, treats or chews to ease anxiety or otherwise calm down their furry friends. Considering the varying sizes of pets, this is generally done via trial and error.

 

Pricing

Price discrepancy between the least and most expensive brands: 1,075%

Average Price per mg of CBD: $0.19.

Least Expensive Brand: Elixinol offers the lowest price of CBD at $0.03/mg CBD. The company is not USDA certified but does use the CO2 extraction method for its CBD pet products, Followed by CBD Genesis offers price of CBD at $0.04/mg CBD. The company is not USDA certified but does use the CO2 extraction method and Lazarus Naturals offers price of CBD at $0.05/mg CBD. The company is not USDA certified and use the Ethanol extraction method for its CBD pet products.

Most Expensive Brand: Sabaidee has the highest prices, coming in at $0.47 per mg CBD. The brand also does not have USDA certification status and uses the same CO2 extraction method that, for example, CBD Genesis does.

Note: The average price for a pet product of any kind was $50.

Pets Products: Price segmentation

 

Potency

Most Common Potency: 300 mg CBD in average pet care products.

Lowest Potency: cbdMD offers the lowest potency per ml in pet care with its Peanut Butter or natural flavor. 5 mg/mL and a total of 150mg per item.

Highest Potency: Endoca offers the highest concentration of CBD per mL. The 30 mg/mL bottle (total volume of 10mL) contains both CBD and CBDa, a CBD metabolite.

 

Bottom Line for Pet Care:

Although we haven’t distinguished between the different CBD pet products (Oils, Treats, Chews etc), we did compare the price per mg CBD which makes it comparable – and the result is – a huge variation in price among pet products.

We are in the very early stages of using CBD for pets and there is not a lot of evidence for any particular dosing. Kittens, unsurprisingly, are also not known to vape 🙂

The best advice for pet CBD is the same advice for humans: start at a low dose and slowly increase it until your goal for your animal is achieved. There are advantages to using the liquids, but you can also adjust how much you give your animal by using chews, isolates or treats.

 

Capsules

Capsules are one of the most common ways to take a supplement and CBD is, after all, an herbal supplement!

Capsules have some advantages; there is a set amount in each capsule and some flexibility in dosing. Most capsules of CBD are easy to swallow. Some are actually gel caps and liquid filled where others are filled with dried herb. Some capsules will use dried extract, others the liquid form of CBD while others provide pure CBD isolate the isolate is easiest to use by companies and easiest to control for if you have a purified isolate it is easy to determine just how much you have. If you have dried herb, you have to take some extra steps to determine just how much CBD you have in that dried mass of leaves and flowers.

Capsules have to go through “First Pass Metabolism” meaning that once the capsule (or gelcap) material is broken down by your digestive system, the contents are absorbed and then enter the liver where they are metabolized broken down to some degree. That means a few things as far as the effects of CBD (or any herb or supplement taken by mouth). The first thing it means is that less than 100% of the original amount of CBD is likely to be dispersed disbursed throughout your body because the liver will metabolize at least a portion of it. The second is that it will take a bit longer for the CBD to affect how you feel. If you are trying to use CBD to help you sleep, for example, you should take the CBD 30-60 minutes before bedtime to give it a chance to get delivered to your whole body. The third thing to remember is that the effects of CBD taken orally will last longer as a general rule.

The main disadvantage of capsules is for people that have some difficulty swallowing large capsules or gelcaps can prove difficult. It may be easier to take any capsules along with a glass of water (6-8 ounces) or with some food to help it “go down”.

 

Pricing

Price discrepancy between the least and most expensive brands: 760%

Average Price per mg of CBD: $0.12. This is far from the median as about 75% of the brands offer lower prices and 25% above and those above are significantly above the differences between the lower and the higher prices is 760%.

Least Expensive Brand: The least expensive brands in our survey were Lazarus Naturals and  Infinite. Lazarus with full spectrum capsules and Infinite with It’s CBD-isolate capsules are both priced at $0.05 per mg. Both brands are not USDA certified and uses the less expensive ethanol extraction method.

Most Expensive Brand: The highest-priced brand is Mary’s Nutritionals. Mary’s Nutritionals costs $0.43 per mg of CBD. It is not USDA certified but uses the expensive ultra high-performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer for purity testing purposes. From a technical point of view, Mary’s Nutritionals uses “gold standard” purification and testing methods and that, at least in part, explains the higher price of the purified CBD.

Note: The average price for capsules of any kind was $86.

Capsules: Price segmentation

 

Potency

Most Common Potency: 25mg CBD per capsule

Lowest Potency: Bluebird botanicals carries “Hemp CBD Capsules” with 5 mg CBD per capsule with 60 capsules costing $27.95 which is $0.09/mg CBD.

PlusCBD Oil offers among the lowest potency capsules, with a choice of 10 or 15mg CBD per capsule. The cost for the 10 mg/capsule (30 capsules) is $29.95 which is $0.1/mg CBD.

Highest Potency: Lazarus Naturals has the highest potency we found their “Cycling Frog” softgels contain 100 mg of CBD per softgel. They come in 4 and 20 count. That works out to $0.045/mg of CBD for the 20 count.

InfiniteCBD offers the highest potency capsules. They use CBD isolates – 100 mg CBD per capsule (10,000 mg CBD for 100 capsules) for $370 which is $0.037/mg CBD.

Again there is quite a bit of variation, or to put a better spin on it quite a bit of choice when it comes to potency in CBD capsules.

 

Bottom Line

Capsules were easy for us to compare – in pricing we compared the price per mg CBD and CBD per capsule to compare potency. We found a huge discrepancy in pricing of 760%, most of the brands offer CBD only capsules and some add more supplements, so the gap in prices remains unclear.

Capsules can be a very convenient approach to using CBD effectively. There is somewhat less flexibility in dosing you’d have a hard time cutting a capsule or gelcap in half but there is enough of a range of CBD in each capsule that you can choose the amount that is right for you. Capsules and gelcaps are easy to swallow at least for most and allow you the privacy that you want.

 

Topicals

Topical formulations can be applied directly to the skin.

The skin is the primary barrier protecting the bodies internal world against the external environment. Only certain molecules may pass through the skin, depending on their structure and properties. CBD is a fat friendly compound, which means it can penetrate through the epidermis, the outermost layer of the three layers of skin .Once the epidermis has been penetrated, CBD can access living tissues within the dermis.

Unlike ingesting or smoking CBD, applying it to the skin does not allow it to enter the bloodstream; it simply works on the outermost endocannabinoid system contained in the living layer of the skin.

 

Pricing

Price discrepancy between the least and most expensive brands: 2226%

Average Price per mg of CBD: $0.26.

Least Expensive Brand: The lowest price per mg CBD is for Lazarus Naturals and it’s $0.046/mg CBD. Lazarus Naturals are using Ethanol as their extraction methods which is considered the cheaper one (in comparison to CO2) and are not USDA certified.

Most Expensive Brand: The highest price is for HempWorx with $1.07/mg CBD, while HempWorx are using CO2 as an extraction method, they are not USDA certified.

Topicals: Price Segmentation

 

Potency

Most Common Potency: 16.67 mg/ml (the potency is calculated as the ratio between the total amount of CBD in the product and the volume of the container in ml).

Lowest Potency: Sun Flora CBD offers the lowest potency product with their Daytime Moisturizer 30mg. The potency is 1mg/ml.

Highest Potency: Premium Jane offers the most potent product with their CBD Topical Salve – 1500 mg CBD – Cocoa Butter, the potency turns out to 25 mg/ml.

 

Bottom Line

The volatility in the market is clearly noticeable when it comes to topicals as well.

In contrary to all other products such as tinctures and gummies, we think that in topicals the quality may significantly differ from brand to brand (depending on all the other ingredients added to the product), a difference that may cause a gap in prices. Although, a 2226% gap is objectively still very high.

 

Vapes and Liquids

This category covers both vape pens and vape juices.

There have been some issues with vaping in the past few months and in some states, like Washington and Massachusetts, there are limits on vape pens and vape juices. Check your state laws for the current status.

Vape pens and juices may be more useful for sudden onset of pain, insomnia, tremors, depression, anxiety or any other issue that comes on suddenly.

This “delivery method” has the advantage of being the fastest way to get a dose of CBD. It is also the shortest-lasting method.

It should be noted that there is still not much known about vaping’s effects on the lungs, which makes it a risky delivery mechanism.

 

Pricing

Price discrepancy between the least and most expensive brands: 250%

Average Price per mg of CBD: $0.13.

Least Expensive Brand: CBD Genesis is the lowest priced brand it cost $0.06 price per mg of CBD. This brand is not USDA certified and uses CO2 extraction methods.

Most Expensive Brand: Cbdfx is the highest-priced brand with a cost of $0.21 per mg of CBD. CBDfx uses CO2 extraction and is not USDA certified.

Vapes and E-liquids: Price segmentation

 

Potency

Most Common Potency: 33.3 mg/ml.

Lowest Potency: JustCBD offers the lowest amount of CBD per ml in Vape Juice with a range of products with potencies of 100,250, 500 and 1000 mg in a 60ml vial. The lowest potency of 100 mg per 60mL (1.67 mg CBD per ml again, to determine mg per mL divide the total number of mgs of CBD by the total volume)

Highest Potency: Hemp Bombs offers the highest CBD per ml in Vape Juices. In practice, this potency could be even higher by using E-liquid additives. The highest potency product, contains 1000mg CBD in 1mL (1000 mg/ml) or as the company says “ultra concentrated”. One cartridge costs $99.99 and works out to $0.1/mgCBD.

Hemp Bombs does not state explicitly that their products do not contain Vitamin E, though they are 3rd party tested. Hemp Bombs DOES explicitly state that “CBD Vape Products and e-liquids are no longer permitted to buy or sell online in the state of Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island and Washington.”

 

Bottom Line for Vapes and Liquids:

We have checked all vape products with no distinctions between vape pens, juices, e-liquids etc, and compared the price per mg CBD and the amount of CBD per ml.

We see a variance in prices here as well. In vape pens there might be a reasonable cause for the variety in prices due to the differences in quality in devices which we cannot say the same for the other vape products.

Vape products are going through some upheavals because of a vaping lung disease that has been associated with the use of Vitamin E in the oils but has also been associated with tobacco (nicotine) and/or THC products. These lung diseases have also been associated to a large degree with black market products that are not 3rd party tested. There is still some risk associated with vaping, however, no matter where you get the product we just don’t yet know, though it is fair to say that if you get a vaping product from a reputable source which is 3rd party testing its products, you have a lower risk.

In all fairness, another thing we do not know is that if a higher potency product in vaping produces a higher risk. Culturally, we are often tuned into “bigger is better,” but this is just not true. The best current advice is, as stated before – start with a low potency and work your way up slowly to the potency that works for you.

 

Isolate


Isolate was the least common product suggested by the brands we checked – only 15% of the brands offered Isolate products.

The avg price per mg CBD is $0.03/mg CBD.

The lowest priced product is offered by Bluebird Botanicals and its $0.01/mg CBD

The highest priced products are offered by JustCBD and Medical Marijuana Inc and is $0.05/mg CBD.

The difference in prices here is 400%.

 

All Product Families

Price discrepancy between the least and most expensive brands: Over all the product families tinctures, gummies, capsules, pet care,topicals, isolates, vapes prices per mg of CBD vary enormously from $0.02/mg to $0.66/mg, 3200%! That is like buying something at the dollar store for $1 and then going to a Prada store and buying the same thing for $3,200!

Average Price per mg of CBD: The average price per mg of CBD is $0.17.

Least Expensive Brand: Plain Jane is the least expensive at $0.02/mg CBD while Lazarus Naturals comes in second least expensive at twice that $0.04/mg CBD.

Plain Jane has no information about USDA certification or extraction methods we tried calling Plain Jane but only got a recorded message.

Lazarus Naturals on the other hand is a member of the American Herbal Products Association, the US Hemp Roundtable and other hemp and agricultural organizations.

Most Expensive Brand: Mary’s Nutritionals is the most expensive brand at $0.66 per mg CBD. They use some high quality testing methods for purity, and their hemp is organic. Mary’s Nutritionals is followed by HempWorx that has an average price of $0.50 per mg CBD.

All Products: Price segmentation

 

Bundles, Discounts & Coupons

Most companies (55%) offer bundles of some sort. These can be very useful when you are trying to decide if you want to use oils, tinctures, topicals, gummies or vapes. They can also be useful if you are looking to find the best taste or if you are buying for more than one person. In one household, for example, you may have one person who is trying to achieve better sleep while another is looking for help with anxiety and stress while a third is looking to relieve pain.

Bundles can also be a useful and cost-effective way to buy, for example, if you buy 3 sets of tinctures, you may be able to save a significant amount of money.

The average bundle price (which includes a variety of bundle components) is $197.50. The average discount for the bundle as compared to buying each component separately is 20% a pretty reasonable discount that works out to be $51.

49% of companies offer discount coupons which average to be a 14% discount.

Half of these companies offer free shipping if the total purchase is above, on average, $73.

Conclusions

It can naturally be very difficult for consumers to make informed decisions.

The market for CBD’s rapid growth is coupled with a major lack of regulation, making it a wild, wild west in terms of products’ potencies and especially pricing.

Let’s weigh the different factors that may affect the pricing and spur volatility in the market.

Variables that can affect the final price

  • Achieving certified organic status is neither easy nor cheap. It can be an expensive, years-long process. Some companies, like Charlotte’s Web, have been farming organically for years while others are completely new to the organic world. In some states, there is no provision for certifying industrial hemp as organic. Lazarus Natural’s in Oregon, for instance, grows their products organically, follows the rules of the Oregon Farm Bureau, but still doesn’t provide organic certification.
  • Not all extraction methods cost the same. Most companies rely on either a traditional ethanol extraction or the newer and more expensive CO2 extraction method. Some companies use a combination of both.
  • To ensure quality, some companies utilize 3rd party testing. While this gives consumers the ability to know what they are getting, it can ultimately be an expensive addition.
  • Potencies for the different product families (ie. tincture, gummies, capsules, pet care, topicals, isolates, vapes, and bundles) vary. This is partly due to just how much CBD manufacturers can “pack” into a particular product family based on the chemistry and physical properties.

We are just at the beginning of getting real data for these values, as opposed to anecdotal reports of “what worked for my cousin Jane or my brother Joe.” Once more of that data is available, you will likely see more uniformity across the market.

But overall, there does not seem to be a concrete explanation for the wide disparity of prices of CBD per mg in any one family of products.

So, what are some potential factors for the major discrepancies we found?

  • Weed Greed. We hate to list this first, but this is just about the simplest explanation. What else can explain huge price disparities when you normalize for all the other variables? Some companies may have a glitzy website with bells, whistles and beautiful pictures while another has a long list of blog articles, but can that really explain a 10-fold difference? It’s hard to imagine.

Without regulations, the market will charge what it can get. The FDA is just getting around to determining if CBD should be labeled a drug, a supplement or something else, so perhaps there are people who figure they should take advantage while they can.

The DEA says it is illegal, the 2018 Farm Bill says it’s not, and the FDA is … well, thinking about it. It’s likely that some entrepreneurs are simply asking themselves “why not?”

  • Farming methods and costs may differ from region to region. As previously mentioned, some farms are going through the costly process of attaining organic certification. Some can’t or aren’t interested.

Hemp farming can be labor intensive and time consuming if they are trying to cross-breed or clone more plants. If some farms have decided to use climate-controlled grow domes instead of growing their plants the old-fashioned way, this could very well increase the costs.

And, of course, security may be a concern on some farms, which poses yet additional costs.

  • Staff/Employee costs may make a difference for some companies. Do they have an extensive scientific staff to develop new strains, new formulations or new purification methods? Do they have extensive customer service staff? Do they have brick-and-mortar stores or are all sales online? All of these factors can influence prices.
  • Many companies are young and they may need to have a high cash-flow. When you need to pay back investors or repay loans taken out to cover start-up costs, it’s not surprising to imagine that some companies are taking steps to maximize cash on hand.

Any combination of these may be at play. Eventually, the CBD market will likely stabilize somewhere in between the extremes, but until then, we gathered a list of the most affordable (but quality) CBD oil products including tinctures, gummies, pet products, capsules and softgels, vapes and e-liquids so can easily find the best affordable brand to buy from.

 

Infographic

Below you can find an infographic that summarize all the highlights from our research. If you wish to use it on your site or your social media you can download it and additional images here for your convenience.

For additional information regarding this report please contact us at info@leafreport.com

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Medical Team
Medical Team
Leafreport's Clinician Team
The clinicians in our team bring their experience from across the spectrum of medical specialties, as well as their perspective from years of clinical practice, research, and patient advocacy. Medical Review, provided by members of Leafreport's team, ensures that our content is accurate, current, and patient-focused.
Dr. Zora DeGrandpre practices naturopathic medicine (home visits) in rural Washington and is a professional medical and scientific writer and editor, specializing in naturopathic, functional, botanical and integrative medicine. Dr. DeGrandpre has degrees in drug design, immunology and natural medicine and has extensive research experience in cancer and molecular immunology. Dr DeGrandpre has found the use of CBD with elderly patients and others to be safe and clinically effective.

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