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CBD: Consumers Crave Science, Information

consumer familiarity with cannabis chart


CBD: Consumers Crave Science, Information

By Steven Hoffman

Based on a comprehensive consumer survey published in 2020 of 4,000 U.S. consumers plus another 1,000 consumers in Canada, healthy lifestyles research firm Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) found that people are eager and interested in exploring the medicinal value of CBD. 

According to NMI’s 2020 North American Cannabis Market Opportunities and Challenges Report, 18% of the U.S. adult population (46 million consumers) say they have personally used CBD products in the past six months.

“Consumers don’t know a lot and they want to learn more,” said Diane Ray, NMI’s Vice President of Strategic Innovation. “Right now, they’re getting information from articles online and family and friends. It doesn’t appear that a lot of authoritative sources are connecting with consumers to provide them with reliable information. It could also be that resistance from social media companies may be a factor in limiting information,” Ray observed.

“There’s an underlying desire to get healthier. People want to believe in the promise of CBD and they want to know how to tap into its benefits. However, the data indicates the industry isn’t educating enough. We see an influx of people experimenting and dabbling with CBD products – from dietary supplements and functional food and beverage to personal care – but that could flatten unless science comes into play more. The market is craving reliable science,” Ray said.

While an older generation in their 60s and 70s are turning to CBD products for pain management – in particular, CBD gummies are number one in terms of consumer choice, according to NMI data – Ray noted that a younger generation, including Millennials and the “i-gen” (the 18-25 age group) are among the most stressed, and they turn to CBD products for anxiety and relaxation.

“Consumers are slowly navigating the puzzle of dosage, quality, etc., to find out what products work for them and fit in their budget,” Ray said. “In the long term, they want to get it where they get everything else, but in the near term, they are looking for education and expertise, and for that they are going to specialty stores, including dedicated CBD stores, dispensaries, drugstores, the internet and natural food stores,” Ray noted.

Natural Marketing Institute identifies five consumer segments that are grouped along the lines of differentiated health attitudes, behavior and psychographics. They include:

Well Beings® – 26%
• Most health pro-active 
• Leaders & influencers 
• Most multi-cultural 

Food Actives®  – 14%
• Mainstream healthy 
• Basics & balance 

Magic Bullets® – 20%
•  No healthy lifestyle commitment  
•  Managers vs. preventative 

Fence Sitters®  – 23%
• ‘Wannabe’ healthy 
• Stressed, want control 
• Multi-cultural segment

Eat, Drink & Be Merrys®  – 17%
• Least health active 
• Taste over health

For more information on the 2020 USA/Canada Whole Cannabis/Whole Health study, visit here.

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Steven Hoffman is Managing Director of Compass Natural, providing brand marketing, PR, social media, and strategic business development services to natural, organic, sustainable and hemp/CBD products businesses. Compass Natural serves in PR and programming for NoCo Hemp Expo and  Southern Hemp Expo, and Hoffman serves as Editor of the weekly Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, published by We are for Better Alternatives. Contact

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