For Cannabis Companies, the Future for CBD Looks Strong, According to a New Report

While many Americans still feel skittish about using THC-infused marijuana because of legality issue, the sky’s seemingly the limit for companies offering hemp-derived CBD products. That’s the message of a new study from New Frontier Data study.
Joan Oleck
Written by Joan Oleck, Cannabis Journalist
Last Updated
CBD Market

“The newness of the CBD experience for most consumers suggests there remains significant opportunity for well-developed brands to attract consumer attention and capture market share from existing market leaders,” states the study, U.S. CBD Consumer Report: Archetypes and Preference.

In fact, only 18% of the U.S. adults surveyed said they’d tried CBD, the study reported – but fully 86% had heard of it.

The advantage here for startups, the study explained, is that, “Most consumers have not been using the products with sufficient longevity to create durable brand loyalty that is difficult to dislodge.”

And in this era of COVID-19 anxiety and, this past week, renewed racial tensions, CBDs’ time may have truly arrived. Now more than ever, cannabis entrepreneurs have the opportunity to take advantage of the fact that so many people have favorable views of CBD – 48% according to the New Frontier Data report – and 61% believe it has valid medical uses.

The study, which surveyed 4,074 U.S. adults online in mid-March, 43% of whom earn $60,000 or more a year, zeroed in on the familiarity factor which plays a big role in boosting CBDs:

  • Some 51% of Americans surveyed knew a family member or friend who used CBD. Some 17%, or nearly 1 in 5 people surveyed, had recommended CBD to someone they knew.
  • Nearly 3 in 4, or 73% of the survey population who had heard of CBD, said they’d had a personal conversation about it, including the 67% of interview subjects who hadn’t consumed CBD.
  • The majority of people who’d had a conversation about CBD said those conversations were mostly positive. Nearly 2 in 5 people surveyed, or 39%, said they’d received a recommendation to try CBD.

Whether those people carried through on that recommendation often came down to their gender, the report indicated:

  • Women surveyed were more likely than men to have consumed CBD just one time – 30% for women to men’s 19%.
  • On average, men spend more on CBD products than do women. Of those respondents spending $22 to $49 a month, men (27%) lagged women (32%) but made up the difference in other ways: Men outspent women in the spending categories of $50 to $99 a month (men,22%; women, 20%); $100 to $149 (men, 12%;women, 8%); and $150-plus (men, 9%; women, 4%).
  • Of those respondents who’d tried CBD “once or twice,” 30% were male, versus 19%, female. Of those who reported using CBDs just one time to several times a week, 23% were male, 16% female.

Regardless of gender, many respondents who used CBD – 3 in 5, or 60% — said they used it for some form of “unwinding,” whether that meant relaxation, stress relief or anxiety reduction. The primary reason: pain management, cited by 41%.

Oil was the most popular form of CBD; some 63% of consumers in the study said they’d tried this form. Topicals were chosen by 36%, and infused foods by 31%. Flowers, pills and vaping were less popular – vaping because of the decrease in smoking overall and because people are now frequently housebound with their small children.

Roughly half, or 51%, of the CBD purchasers said they usually purchased familiar brands, leaving fully half saying they tended to try new brands or didn’t know what brands they were buying. About 29% said they would be likely to purchase CBD products in the next six months; and 7 among 10, or 72%, of those who’d purchased CBD in the past would be likely to purchase it again in the coming six months.

The report’s message? That cannabis companies have an opportunity with CBD products to reflect the word of mouth and evangelism CBD users are showing. Marketing incentives, such as loyalty programs, referral discounts and consumer testimonials, are suggested.

A second message: Infused, rather than smokable, products, are preferred. In addition, the current COVID-19 pandemic presents opportunity for addressing the stress and anxiety fueled by social disruption.

Because of consumers’ enthusiasm about the therapeutic possibilities of CBD, companies might jump in to address that need as well, while paying close attention to product quality and laboratory testing to address consumers’ concerns about quality as well as the federal rules on cannabis.

Finally, there is the issue of gender and addressing the CBD needs of female users who, so far, have not shown the expenditure and usage levels of men.

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Joan Oleck
Joan Oleck
Cannabis Journalist
Joan Oleck is a freelance writer currently specializing in the cannabis industry and cannabis tech. She has been an editor and reporter on staff for such publications as Forbes.com, Business Week, Newsday and The Detroit News. She won the Jesse Neal Award for best feature series in a trade publication, Restaurant Business, and a GLAAD Award for a Salon story about discrimination in adoption against single and gay parents

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