April 18, 2019

Will CBD be cannabis’ biggest high?

Jessica Schneider // WTF VICE

The cannabidiol market is relatively small today at an estimated $200 million. However, CBD, as the cannabis derivative is called, is expected to explode in the next several years, growing to anywhere from $2 billion to $20 billion.

CBD is an oil based byproduct of the cannabis plant. Unlike its cannabinoid cousin THC, it won’t get you high; however, it offers many other benefits. Preliminary research suggests it can aid in treating a wide variety of health concerns, including sleep disorders, chronic pain and anxiety.

The popularity of and public interest in CBD has spurred significant innovation and product development efforts across an eclectic grouping of product categories. From bath bombs to pet food – everyone wants a piece of the pie. While there is an inevitable learning curve for consumers, since certain forms are still illegal in many states, there is already marked consumer interest in these products.

Initially branded as a fad for stoners and tree huggers, CBD has transitioned quickly into the mainstream. Even Martha Stewart, the queen of American domesticity, has jumped onto the bandwagon with a soon to be launched line of CBD products for Canopy Growth (see our interview with CEO Bruce Linton on page 8). If the U.S. government removes its classification as a Schedule I narcotic, as former Gov. William Weld hopes (see page 5), we should expect a significant increase in research dollars to assess the full range of CBD usage applications, efficacy and more. This regulatory relaxation would also further solidify CBD’s status as a product ingredient with mass market appeal.

Jessica Schneider is a president at Ipsos.


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There is high interest in both THC and CBD products across categories

Assuming it were legal for you, how likely are you to try the following if you wanted to consume:

A. a non-intoxicating CBD product primarily for medicinal/health benefits?

B. a psychoactive THC product to help change your mental state?

U.S CBD Canada CBD U.S THC Canada THC

Foods/baked goods Foods/baked goods 54% 53% 37% 40%

Coffee/tea Coffee/tea 50% 49% 33% 33%

Water Water 48% 48% 29% 32%

Soda/soft drinks Soda/soft drinks 41% 37% 28% 27%

Beauty/skin products Beauty/skin products 39% 29% 22% 19%

Energy drinks Energy drinks 28% 21% 21% 17%

Source: Ipsos survey conducted between Feb. 25 and 26, 2019 among 1,005 adults in the U.S. and between Feb. 26 and 28, 2019 among 1,004 adults in Canada. Canadians were asked slightly different questions due to the legality of cannabis products.

THC, the leading psychoactive constituent of cannabis, also draws interest in extending well beyond smoking or vaping.

It is not every day you see an emerging product so quickly and heavily influence a categorical grouping of this breadth or variety. The ongoing integration of cannabis byproducts into established categories, like food and beverage, will pose interesting challenges for brands both large and small. How will they overcome the “weed stigma”? How will they develop products that can maintain relevance despite not fully understanding the benefit usage equation? How will they scale, given the very complex and nuanced state by state laws for anything related to cannabis? And the list goes on.

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, President, U.S., Service Line Group Head |

Jessica oversees several Ipsos U.S. practices, including Innovation and Market Strategy and Understanding, and User Experience. Her work is centered in understanding, optimizing and qualifying all things “new”–brands, products, buyers and markets. She has significant experience leading engagements in merging, high-growth categories, especially within the spaces of consumer packaged goods, restaurants and retail.

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