CHICAGO — Just how big could the hemp and CBD market get in the United States? One recent in-depth study of consumers suggests as many as 40% of adults over 21 are willing to try these products.
The study, conducted by a cannabis market research company, Chicago-based High Yield Insights, surveyed 2,000 adult consumers across states that have and haven’t passed some form of marijuana legalization. In March, High Yield Insights released a report based on the findings titled The CBD Consumer Experience.
Here are six key takeaways for convenience-store retailers …
1. New market, new customers
No surprise here: The majority of CBD consumers are new to the category. Of the surveyed respondents that had used CBD, 86% had done so for five years or less, and more than half (54%) had used CBD for less than one year.
“This relatively ‘new’ consumer spurs optimism for growth in CBD,” the report said. “As the market continues to expand with new products and awareness, it’s likely that the share of new customers will only increase.”
2. The potential is big
High Yield Insights also surveyed potential CBD consumers. In addition to finding that 40% of adults would be willing to explore CBD products, the survey found that most potential CBD consumers are over 35 (64%), female (56%) and college educated (79%).
The report lists several things that would propel potential CBD customers to purchase (beyond just lower prices). Those motivations include:
- 44% listed availability of independent research.
- 42% want easier access to products.
- 34% are looking for a physician’s recommendation.
- 29% want clarity on federal laws.
- 28% listed an understanding of the long-term health impact.
3. Familiar forms draw the most interest
When current CBD consumers were asked what types of products they preferred, the top three choices were baked goods (40%), gummies (29%) and vape cartridges (23%). These preferences varied slightly based on age, with disposable vape pens being the top choice for 21- to 34-year-olds, chocolate for 35- to 44-year-olds, topicals for 45- to 54-year-olds and tinctures for those older than 55.
4. Form matters more than brand (for now)
When selecting a CBD product to purchase, consumers look first and foremost at the type of product, with 52% of survey respondents listing form as their top priority. Price (39%) and potency (41%) also ranked high. Brand mattered to just 19% of consumers.
“With a majority of CBD consumers having used for less than one year, the weakness of ‘brand’ on the product purchase decision should be expected,” the report said. “While there are several well-known brands in each category and within certain states, none are top of mind for most consumers.”
5. Mainstream opportunity
On a somewhat related topic, CBD consumers expressed a surprising willingness for major, well-known companies to get into the business. Specifically:
- 65% of current CBD consumers said they were open to cannabis products from well-known CPG companies.
- 37% of current CBD consumers said they were “excited” about potential new cannabis products from well-known CPG companies.
- 35% of current CBD consumers said they’d be more likely to purchase cannabis products from a familiar company.
By comparison, just 21% of current CBD consumers said they “fear cannabis is going to become too corporate.”
“Despite an anti-corporate legacy in the cannabis community, CBD users are likely to welcome these entrants especially as new consumers seek … safeguards and consistency,” said High Yield Insights.
6. Consumers want easier access
Perhaps most promising for convenience retailers: While the vast majority (86%) of CBD is purchased online or from dispensaries, consumers would much prefer to purchase at a more convenient location. The study found 43% of current and potential users are seeking “easier access” to CBD products, and 32% were more likely to purchase cannabis products from a drugstore or grocery store than a dispensary.
“CBD users are purchasing online or at licensed dispensaries (for now),” the report said. “This data may look quite different in the near future as the Food & Drug Administration clarifies its position on CBD products appearing outside dispensaries.”