Current CBD Trends

Despite a pandemic-related sales slowdown, this emerging category is still ripe for growth
Current CBD Trends
Expect growth, diversification and innovation among the various delivery modes of CBD.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring chemical compound derived from the cannabis sativa plant that imparts a feeling of relaxation or calm. CBD is popular both in mainstream media and on retailer shelves. However, the CBD market as a whole has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in disrupted CBD production and distribution, and a temporary slowdown in sales growth. Once predicted to reach $22 billion by 2022, a scaled-back market forecast by Brightfield Group now suggests that the hemp CBD market is expected to reach $16 billion by 2025.

CBD Customer Insights

A recent Invisibly poll of more than 1,000 consumers found that most people (62%) have never tried a CBD product, suggesting that a sizable opportunity remains for grocery retailers to acquire new customers who may not be aware of CBD’s benefits. Today’s users of topical and ingestible forms of CBD are largely women, outpacing male and nonbinary users by two to one. Those who say they would consider taking CBD name stress, anxiety and pain relief as top reasons to give it a try. Perhaps one of the most effective ways to introduce new customers to CBD is to point them toward CBD-infused gummies. Why? High Yield Insights data suggests that six in 10 new CBD customers try CBD gummies before delving into other forms of CBD. 

Product Segmentation Growth

Increasingly, product segmentation will attempt to address specific needs such as stress, anxiety and pain relief. This may prove difficult for manufacturers, however, due to regulations restricting the use of health claims. Scientific research currently supports the use of CBD to combat a variety of ailments and conditions, including sleep disorders, inflammation, seizures, IBD/IBS, and dozens of other conditions. The body of available research evaluating the safety and efficacy of CBD is expected to grow rapidly to keep pace with industry and consumer interest in it. 

CBD Category Expansion

Expect growth, diversification and innovation among the various delivery modes of CBD. Soft-gel capsules, tinctures, creams, topical ointments and salves, suppositories, sprays, sublingual strips, edibles, infused beverages, chewing gums, and pet products are all available today. The challenge will be to help consumers understand which delivery modes and doses to choose to meet specific therapeutic needs. For example, a soft-gel capsule may provide up to eight hours of relief, while sublingual options may offer faster relief for shorter periods of time. Edibles offer the greatest variability due to wide ranges of CBD content and individual differences in digestion and metabolism. Although CBD products are largely marketed as supplements, users may experience side effects or medication interactions, and therefore should discuss CBD use with a health professional.

Quality Assurance Enhancements

A 2017 research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that 26% of the 84 CBD products tested contained doses that were lower than stated on the packaging. Increasingly, customers will look for reputable certificates of analysis or verifications of third-party testing to authenticate potency claims. Brands will look for ways to differentiate themselves and gain consumer trust by communicating on country of origin, pesticide-free growing practices, avoidance of extraction solvents such as butane and hexane, dose consistency, specific cannabinoid and terpine content profiles, full-spectrum cannabinoids versus CBD isolate, and other markers of CBD quality. 

Educate, Educate, Educate

Research suggests that 58% of Americans don’t understand the difference between CBD and THC (the intoxicating component of cannabis sativa). The biggest opportunity to capture sales of CBD lies with retailers that can effectively educate shoppers on the uses, safety, efficacy and dosing of CBD. Retailers should offer advice about CBD from experts trained to evaluate available scientific research, including in-store pharmacists and retail dietitians. Providing accessible, reliable education can help drive consumer awareness, confidence and trial of CBD products.

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