If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know that CBD is popping up in multiple markets. We’ve been tracking its rise in Beauty for over a year, and we recently joined forces with Nielsen for a live webinar on the current state of CBD and the future of this fast-growing trend. Read on for highlights from this power-packed presentation!
Highlight 1: Interest in CBD is slowing
Rick Maturo, Associate Client Director of Cannabis Measurement at Nielsen, kicked off the webinar with a shocking figure: A whopping 1 in 3 US adults claim to have consumed at least one type of cannabis product.
That’s already a massive number, but in their Thinking Beyond the Buzz study, Nielsen found that 45% of US adults are interested in products that contain cannabinoids. While a small subset of those consumers are only interested in THC- or CBD-dominant marijuana, a much larger subset is interested in CBD derived from hemp, suggesting that nonpsychoactive CBD products are very much in vogue.
Social Standards’s Senior Director of Data Analytics and Customer Success Jordan Breslauer noted that social media conversations about CBD reached a peak in May 2019, but interest has slowed in recent months. He noted that this may be an indication that the market is approaching saturation and that growth in the category may not be as electrifying as during that peak period.
Consumer interest was on the rise from 2017 through May 2019, but may be starting to plateau.
Data Source: Social Standards Consumer Analytics – US, Aug 2017–Aug 2019.
Despite the recent slowdown, Jordan stated that brands don’t need to worry about the CBD trend's longevity. He noted that while CBD isn’t bringing in as many new consumers as it has in the past, consumer loyalty is high, so repeat buyers are likely to make up the difference.
Highlight 2: CBD Appeal Is Universal
Looking at the consumer segments interested in key CBD brands like Sunday Scaries, CBD for Life, Lord Jones, and Cannuka, Jordan noted that the consumer segments interested in each brand are pretty similar to the average Instagram audience:
These charts illustrate which demographic cohorts the followers of each CBD brand skew toward, relative to the average Instagram audience. If a brand falls into the “normative” region, it indicates that, en masse, the brand’s consumers are more or less representative of the average Instagram audience.
Data Source: Social Standards Influencer Analytics - Global, Aug 2019.
“What’s interesting is that many of these CBD brands fall into the normative region across most demos,” said Jordan. “That indicates that CBD is rather universal.”
Rick discussed a similar phenomenon when it comes to consumer interest in topical versus ingestible CBD. He noted that Nielsen is seeing a lot of growth in regard to the latter because consumers want familiar products that they can use any time and on any occasion. To that end, “you might not want to rub on a topical product while you’re in a business meeting or waiting to pick up your kids from school. You may actually want to have an innocuous edible product you can keep in your purse so people think you’re just eating fruit snacks.”
Highlight 3: Potential CBD Game-Changers
In response to a question about whether consumers are waiting for big brands to enter the CBD space, Rick noted that in general, consumers are more interested in where hemp is being sourced and whether it’s being sustainably or organically grown, than showing interest in particular brands.
However, Rick also suggested that known brands may ultimately have a halo effect for CBD products: “If a consumer isn’t really familiar with the brands currently in the hemp-derived CBD space, it may be tough to do that research on their own. If they come across a product more organically in a store where they’re already shopping or from a brand they already recognize, they may be more interested and willing to try it.”
Rather than focusing on brands, Jordan suggested that candy is a category to watch when it comes to CBD. He shared two intriguing statistics to support his point:
- 20% of all CBD Food & Beverage conversations mention candy, a number that’s nearly doubled from last year.
- Nearly 1 in 10 candy conversations on Instagram mention CBD.
Jordan went on to say that while people might not be all that excited to mention the piece of chocolate they’re eating, they seem more enthusiastic about calling out the CBD chocolate or the CBD gummy they’re eating.
Finally, when asked about which formats are most likely to see significant growth, Rick mentioned a few possibilities. Nielsen’s Thinking Beyond the Buzz study found that tinctures and sublinguals are currently the most popular format. However, edibles and topicals aren’t far behind.
He stated that whether or not someone lives in a state where marijuana is legal seems to have an impact on format preference. “In states where it’s legal, inhalable forms like vapes, flower, or even pre-rolled hemp cigarettes tend to over-index” and CBD-dominant marijuana tends to win out over hemp-derived CBD products.
Though it’s still fairly new, there’s a lot going on in the CBD category. Rather than treating CBD as a novelty, consumers seem to be integrating it into their lifestyles. Perhaps even more impressive, it's seeing widespread adoption among consumers, suggesting that CBD has moved from a niche to the mainstream. Finally, consumers are particularly hungry for edible and inhalable options, a trend that’s likely to become even more pronounced if the FDA updates its guidelines around incorporating CBD into ingestible products.