The 2019 US CBD Consumer Report: The Highlights

Written by Marguerite Arnold

The cannabidiol (CBD) market in the US is like a hydra-headed, multi-state monster. Availability, research, access, insights, and regulatory changes (in process or lacking) are areas where reliable data are hard to come by.

Enter the CBD Consumer Report, which was created by CBD Insider, an independent publication specializing in news and analysis of the industry.

Their online poll was conducted between December 2019 and January 2020 and included 1,055 respondents from all of the lower 48 states.

Consumer Insights, Habits, & Uses

Of those people surveyed who use CBD, nearly fourth fifths of consumers said they use it at least weekly if not several times a week; more than one in three reported using CBD daily. Most consumers also reported using about 5-25mg per day, although around 20% of them didn’t know for sure how much they are taking.

The vast majority also consumed CBD in edible, tincture, or capsule form. About 30% reported vaping and topical use; drinks were also popular. Consumption type also seems to be driven by income for products like soft gels or tablets. The average spend per month reported was mostly under $75 per month, with only 2.5% reporting that they spend more than $200 every 30 days.

Consumers report using CBD for aches and pains, relaxation, and muscle soreness and recovery but the highest response (82%) in terms of reported efficacy was for energy. About one third reported withdrawal symptoms, even though this phenomenon has not been fully explored by scientific research.

Where & How CBD Consumers Buy

Most consumers buy CBD at brick and mortar stores, followed by branded websites and online retailers. Consumers are exposed to ads online but the vast majority (about 48%) get information first from friends and family. Social media is also important, as is mainstream media.

However, consumers’ understanding of what is on offer is very limited. Only 20% reported knowing the difference between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolates.

Key Takeaways

  • The most common reason potential consumers cite for not using CBD is that they just do not know enough about it
  • Consumers generally do not know how much CBD to take (and which method is optimal for them) and desperately need better guidance
  • CBD is beginning to replace some traditional medications, with about 20% of respondents said that they had swapped a more traditional medication with CBD
  • The high cost of CBD is also impacting consumers; about 20% of respondents said they had stopped using CBD because of the cost
  • Brand reputation is important but brand recognition remains very low

Overall, consumers also found CBD to be very effective. And while they may not know a lot about certain aspects of the market or the products they consume, they certainly feel that the CBD market desperately needs better oversight and regulation.

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About the author

Marguerite Arnold