Consumer Report‘s recent report on CBD is a great overview for consumers and CBD entrepreneurs alike. One question that everyone in this space should keep front of mind is: What do people use CBD for?
In a recent article, CBD Up Close covered the finding that while CBD usage is the most prevalent among younger people, there are a decent amount of people over 45 who use CBD products and, in our opinion, there is a tremendous opportunity for CBD businesses in serving this older demographic. One of the things for these businesses to keep in mind is that the older demographic will need different messaging to convince them that CBD is a legitimate choice when combating certain kinds of ailments.
CBD Effectiveness and Usage
From the CR chart above, you can see why people use CBD, how effective they think it is, and a breakdown by age group. There’s a lot to unpack here.
First, overwhelmingly, people are using CBD for palliative reasons. Only 11% of the more than 4,000 participants in this study said that they were using CBD for “fun or recreation”. While recreational use of CBD may be a large niche for CBD businesses it isn’t the largest niche. CBD as an alternative to traditional health remedies is where most of the activity is in this industry right now (and CBD Up Close believes that will be the case for the foreseeable future).
The effectiveness of CBD products, at least according to these responses, is murkier. If you haven’t had reason to use many medications in the past to address the ailments listed in the graph above (i.e. stress and anxiety, joint pain, and sleep problems) you may not be aware of the fact that just because a medication has been approved by the FDA that doesn’t mean that it will work 100% all the time.
Instead, what will normally happen is that in consultation with your doctor or healthcare provider you will have to continuously adjust dosage and even try different medications in order to figure out what works for you. This can be a long process but, in CBD Up Close’s opinion, this zeroing in process is largely accepted by many people because, well, it’s what has been done.
Going back to the graph, that 63% “Extremely or very effective” number for people who used CBD to “reduce stress or anxiety or help you relax” is actually a really good number. The efficacy for the other uses may be a little less evident but when compared to the traditional method of trying different FDA approved medications until it works, those numbers begin to look a lot better.
CBD Marketing Positioning Versus FDA Approved Drugs
One of the topics that CBD Up Close feels the most strongly about is that CBD companies need to do an excellent job at educating consumers. With at least one exception, CBD is not FDA approved to be used as a medication. That’s the reality that this industry will have to live in for at least the next few years.
However, Report Linker, an aggregator of industry reports used by government agencies and industries of all kinds, reports that “the global complementary and alternative medicine market size is expected to generate a revenue of USD 210.81 billion by 2026.” While it is true that “complementary and alternative medicine” runs the gamut from yoga to natural remedies this is indicative of a large market, a market that CBD will be a large part of.
In fact, “according to a new estimate from cannabis industry analysts the Brightfield Group, the hemp-CBD market alone could hit $22 billion by 2022.” According to the same article, the CBD article in 2018 was projected to hit almost $600 million.
What all of this proves is that CBD, if current trends hold, is becoming more widely accepted as alternative medicine. And much of the same marketing tactics that current marketers of alternative medicines like ginkgo biloba and turmeric can be used with CBD.
But CBD Up Close thinks that CBD can be marketed more strongly than that. As evidenced from the relatively high rates of self-reported efficacy in the CR report, a strong case can be made for marketing CBD products as a more efficacious form of relief, even over FDA approved drugs like Aspirin.
All of this brings us back to educating consumers. What follows are a number of topics that the industry as whole should focus on when communicating the value of CBD as an alternative:
- Studies, like the CR report, show that people see CBD products as being effective in relieving whatever ails them
- CBD is a natural product with few, if any, side effects for most people
- Like traditional medicines, CBD products should not be viewed as being a cure for everything and people will need to try different products to find what works for them
- The CBD industry must not exaggerate its effectiveness, CBD won’t cure cancer
- In fact, since CBD is not regulated by the FDA, every company selling CBD better include a disclaimer stating that their products have not been reviewed by the FDA and that CBD products are not intended to cure or treat any illnesses
- Continue to work with influencers and highlight success stories; as the CBD industry cannot operate with the approval of the FDA, for now at least, it must rely on championing stories and people who have found CBD helpful
- Develop relationships with doctors and other medical professionals and help them develop an understanding of how CBD products can be a healthy alternative to traditional drugs
- Transitioning to CBD products to help with aches and pains, anxiety, sleep problems, and other health issues can help solve the opiod and over-medication crisis that far too many Americans are currently suffering from
This list will grow as the CBD market becomes more savvy in marketing itself as a legitimate alternative to FDA-approved medications, as it should. CBD Up Close knows that there are many people in America and throughout the world who can benefit from the use of CBD products.