A few years ago, if you presented a member of the American consumer public with this acronym, they would likely have no idea what it meant – unless they were familiar with the chemistry of the cannabis plant. However, CBD products have come a long way since, now encompassing a billion-dollar industry and being sold in pharmacies, restaurants, and even your local gas station.
What is it?
Put simply, CBD is a potentially beneficial substance naturally produced by the cannabis plant. Unlike its more publicized counterpart, THC – known for its ability to create a “high” or sense of euphoria – CBD is often associated with producing pleasantly calming side effects. It has been noted in some studies to help individuals manage pain, inflammation, and anxiety, and interacts with different body systems in order to do so, most notably the nervous system and the brain.
Synthesio’s consumer research report divides CBD products into four distinct categories:
Sublingual: Use of CBD oils, which is often taken by placing a few drops under the tongue. Most common usage of CBD
Inhalation: CBD vape pens
Oral: Edible capsules, gummies, chocolate bars, etc. which contain CBD
Topical: Any product that’s meant to touch the skin or scalp, usually in the form of lotions, creams, shampoos, bath products
Understanding the market
Manufacturers of CBD products target two main consumer groups, baby boomers and “stressed out millennials”. The first group includes individuals age 56 and older looking for relief and pain management related to chronic conditions. The second group, ages 21-35, use CBD products to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Overall, the customer base for CBD is small, with only 15% of adults 21 and older having ever tried CBD products, and is made up of slightly more women than men. The CBD consumer is likely to be relatively well-educated, prioritizing living a natural and healthy lifestyle, especially with regard to what she puts in her body.
In the past few years, CBD consumers have successfully passed the early adoption stage and moved into a high-awareness and growth phase, making this an incredibly exciting time for the industry. In order to be successful, CBD brand should market themselves online, which will allow them to reach wide audiences and generate buzz. An important component of this is an informative and well-designed WordPress site, to provide customers a valuable brand-specific resource for CBD product information.
Digital marketing for CBD products can get a little complicated, if correct protocols aren’t followed. Given legality restrictions on the sale of marijuana products, Google Adwords often flags CBD-related content, which can have disastrous effects on SEO and brands using this method of advertising. Marketing CBD products online can be done, but it is important to do one’s research and comply with all regulations when doing so.
It’s important for CBD brands to ensure that they are transparent and honest with their customers, as well ethical in their business practices, in order to find success with their target audience.
The CBD industry’s future, much like the compound’s effect on the individual body, is hard to predict.
On one hand, as consumer recognition and appreciation of CBD products is rapidly growing – see Kim Kardashian’s CBD-themed baby shower – the industry is likely to expand both into more locations and different customer segments, such as more middle-aged individuals/parents. CBD is also making huge headway in the beauty industry and we are likely to see more high-end brands introduce CBD product lines. The industry is well-positioned for success and, at the very least, will likely move past CBD oil and incorporate new, more innovative uses.
There are also risks that come with the rise, however. CBD is not yet regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so mislabeling of products could lead to harmful side effects for consumers and lawsuits for companies if brands are not careful. Although CBD is fully legal and has proven beneficial to many, the industry cannot truly take off until the ambiguity of CBD regulations is resolved, so brand would do well to be as transparent with customers as possible in the meantime.
So, will this hot commodity stand the test of time?
It appears that the future of CBD is, well, TBD.