The CBD Insider 2021 US CBD Consumer Report

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We are proud to publish The CBD Insider 2021 US CBD Consumer Report, the only statistically significant report solely about US CBD consumers. This is sourced from TheCBDInsider.com (original article: https://thecbdinsider.com/news/the-cbd-insider-2021-us-cbd-consumer-report/)

The goal of our report is to explore the awareness, exposure, knowledge, and use of CBD by Americans, segmented by their current consumer status as it relates to CBD.

To help us do that, we drastically increased our sample size from just over 1,000 people in our previous report to 3,519 consumers who are demographically representative of the US census.

 

Click Here to Download The CBD Insider 2021 US CBD Consumer Report

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These respondents fell into one of four categories:

  • Current consumer
  • Past consumer
  • Potential consumer
  • Uninterested consumer

We found the approximate numbers of Americans who have used CBD, what they use it for, how much they use it, and how many have decided to replace a medication.

We also found the answers to pressing questions, such as:

  • How are Americans using CBD?
  • What prevents consumers from trying CBD?
  • Why have some stopped using it?
  • What can be done to help educate consumers and ease concerns?

All of this and much more can be found in the 111 pages of our 2020 Consumer Report.

You can dig through the details or get an overview of our most important findings in the Key Takeaways.

We sincerely hope you find the data in this report valuable, interesting, and actionable.

The CBD Insider 2021 US CBD Consumer Report

Table Of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. About The CBD Insider
  4. Methodology
  5. PART ONE: CBD In the United States
  6. CBD Awareness and Exposure
  7. Brand Awareness
  8. Sentiment Toward CBD
  9. Statements About CBD
  10. PART TWO: CBD Consumer Profiles
  11. Current CBD Consumers
  12. Past Consumers
  13. Potential Consumers
  14. Uninterested Consumers
  15. PART THREE: Crosstabs
  16. Consumer Status
  17. Age
  18. Gender
  19. Race
  20. Region
  21. Education
  22. Income
  23. Military
  24. Disability

Executive Summary

American consumers from all demographics have made it clear that they are interested in cannabidiol (CBD) and optimistic about its potential, but the knowledge gaps that were revealed in our previous report have largely persisted. Large swaths of respondents are still unaware of how CBD works, how hemp extracts differ, and how much they should take.

Unlike last year’s data, the majority of current CBD consumers indicated that they have been using their products for more than a year. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 proved to be a highly influential variable when it came to the manner in which respondents learned about and accessed CBD (online sales and advertising surging past brick and mortar).

As marketers, researchers, and third-party information sources continue to circulate claims regarding CBD’s effectiveness with no regulation from the FDA, consumer groups and demographics are pooling themselves into several different camps as it concerns their opinions and beliefs surrounding CBD.

Several trends in the data point to the influence of age, gender, and other demographics on the willingness to try certain product types (e.g., older respondents are less likely to try CBD vape), the factors affecting purchasing decisions, perceptions about where and if CBD brands should be allowed to advertise, and much more.

Current consumers and even non-consumers are calling for the FDA to step in and regulate CBD for reasons of safety, raising industry standards of quality, and ensuring that each product is worth the cost.

A few themes kept repeating themselves in the data—themes that bear great influence over the perception and use of CBD, both now and in the future.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the most important points we found in the data:

  • Just under a third of survey respondents (32.7%) has used CBD, and another 33% admitted they knew nothing about it.
  • Widespread uncertainty about CBD’s safety, effectiveness, potency, and other important details continues to affect consumers’ willingness to try CBD products.
  • As in the previous report, large numbers of current consumers are supplementing or replacing medications with CBD, a practice that is moderately correlated with age and gender.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted consumer engagement with CBD ads and information to online channels, though marijuana dispensaries and brick-and-mortar sellers are still prominent.
  • Edibles, gummies, and CBD oil tinctures continue too battle for the most widely used, recognized, and preferred CBD product type; tinctures were most used and recognized in 2021.
  • Consumers are continuing to approach CBD more casually, that is, for relaxation and comfort rather than aches and discomfort, muscle soreness, and other purported applications.

Key Takeaways

Nearly One In Three Americans Have Tried CBD

Taking into account both current (18.2%) and past (14.5%) consumers, almost a third of all respondents (32.7%) were not only interested in CBD, but had used it personally as well.

This sizable chunk of the respondent pool was almost exactly equal in size to the portion of (would-be) respondents who were not at all familiar with CBD (33%).

As anecdotal and research evidence continues to pile up, we expect to see the number of current and former consumers eclipse the number of non-users, but the timing of FDA regulation—if it ever occurs—may drastically affect how many consumers keep their hopes up and how many transition to similar alternatives.

As usual, CBD oils/drops/tinctures were the most frequently used product type across all consumer groups, as well as the type that non-users would feel more comfortable trying.

However, gummies have been steadily catching up to
CBD oil, trailing by a smaller margin amongst current consumers who had tried both product types (53.9% gummies versus 55.3% CBD oil) than past consumers (39.3% gummies to 48.7% oil).

Considering the high level of uncertainty surrounding CBD dose accuracy, it’s little surprise that gummies containing pre-measured amounts of the compound have
continued to grow in popularity.

CBD vape has had a more polarizing increase in visibility, the approval of which lags behind these two frontrunners, dipping disproportionately in certain groups (with increasing age and education level, for example).

Nonetheless, CBD vape products have continued to increase in demand with the rest of the industry.

Age was among the most influential factors affecting respondents’ opinions and practices surrounding a large majority of the CBD-related issues we presented.

One of the most salient trends we noticed was that older age groups were more likely to replace prescription opiates with CBD; among current consumers who said
they replaced a medication, the 55-64 group (52.4%) was significantly more likely to do so than all other groups, beating second place (45-54 group, 30.8%) by more than twenty percent.

Conversely, the second youngest group (25-34) was significantly more likely to replace prescription anti-anxiety drugs with CBD (68.6%) than all other groups
(second place: 35-44, 55%).

The same trends applied when respondents were asked about supplementing medications with CBD; supplementing anti-anxiety medications trended down with increasing age, and vice versa for supplementing prescription opiates.

As age increased, respondents (potential consumers) were also less likely to cite relaxation, energy, improved mood, improved focus, and skin improvements as reasons to try CBD, but “alternative to over-the-counter or prescription medication” trended up.

If explored on a larger scale, these findings could be instrumental to defining safe and effective CBD use parameters for consumers, regulators, and key access points
within the healthcare infrastructure.

Knowledge Gaps Drive Consumer Behavior And Beliefs In Multiple Directions

A number of widespread knowledge gaps in several key areas related to CBD’s legality, safety, effectiveness, and general characteristics prevented even current customers from weighing in on several of the survey questions.

More than half of the respondent pool was unsure of which extract type they would consider using, and more than three-quarters of all respondents couldn’t guess what a typical CBD serving size would be.

Similarly, almost three-quarters of all participants were unable to identify any online CBD informational resources.

Taking into account all the data from all four consumer groups, the largest and most consistent knowledge gaps we found were in the following areas:

  • Knowledge of hemp extracts and the differences between them.
  • CBD’s legality on a state and/or federal level.
  • How much CBD they were consuming per dose (or how much they think all users should aim for).
  • The differences between THC and CBD (many respondents believe CBD could elicit a “high”)

In the crosstab data, we found that the lack of dose size awareness was especially prevalent among Whites or Caucasians—41% were unsure of how many milligrams of CBD they took per serving, compared to 26.7% of Blacks or African Americans and 22.4% of Hispanic or Latino respondents.

Additionally, women were more likely to cite “not sure where to buy it” (24.1%) as a reason they had not tried CBD yet (13.6% of men answered the same).

As a result of this uncertainty, potential consumers appear to be holding off on trying CBD (36.3% of them said they were “not sure” if they’d try it in the near future) until they had more information.

Relaxation Trumps Pain For The Top Reason To Use CBD

Though CBD has been implicated by research as a potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent, respondents from all consumer status groups and (almost) all demographics seem to gravitate towards the stress-reducing benefits of the compound.

The gap isn’t massive, but it’s noticeable; 60.3% of current users said they use CBD for relaxation and stress relief, compared to 53.6% who use it for aches and pains.

Preference for using CBD to relax is significantly more noticeable among women who haven’t tried CBD yet; 55.2% of them listed relaxation as a reason they would try CBD versus 40.2% of men.

We suspect this more casual approach to CBD (with the exception of older age groups) is a product of lackluster legislation and regulation.

Consumers Still Want The FDA To Step In

Finally, CBD consumers of all types are still hoping for FDA approval and regulation of CBD (34.8%), or a mix of FDA oversight and industry self-regulation (29.7%).

This wave of support has ebbed somewhat significantly when compared to the 2019 data (73.9% supported FDA or mixed regulation last year vs 64.5% in 2021), perhaps because the momentum of 2018’s Farm Bill riled up interest that faded as more solidly defined legislation was delayed into 2020 and beyond.

Broken down by status, uninterested consumers were more supportive of FDA regulation (46.4%) than all other groups, implying that the lack of regulation is highly involved in their lack of interest.

Consumers and CBD brands alike will be able to clearly delineate safe and effective uses for CBD with FDA regulation, which will likely cause a spike in interest and consumption.

Price Is Still A Deciding Factor

Both former and potential CBD consumers have voiced consistently throughout the survey that price is a major reason they aren’t currently using CBD products.

Specifically, more than half of all potential users (50.3%) and a greater number of former users (55.1%) stated that the price per serving was very important to their purchasing decision.

Furthermore, over one in five potential consumers (21.3%) stated outright that they hadn’t used CBD yet because it was too expensive, while nearly one in three past consumers (32.4%) stopped using CBD because it was too expensive.

In other words, price alone can deter someone from following through with a purchase, whether that person has prior experience with CBD or not.

About The CBD Insider

The CBD Insider is an independent publication specializing in news, analysis, and market research for the CBD Industry.

Our mission is to bring honest, understandable, and authoritative information about CBD products, companies, brands, and industry groups to consumers. The publication was founded in 2018 by Ian Eckstein with the purpose of helping consumers make educated choices when purchasing CBD, highlighting CBD companies who are building their brands in a responsible manner, and providing actionable marketing insights for the CBD industry.

Methodology

Using a marketplace with a direct connection to the most trusted sample providers, we asked a demographically representative sample of people from the United States about their attitudes and practices surrounding CBD.

Participants took a roughly 15-minute survey and responses were collected from January 14, 2021 through February 1, 2021.

We surveyed a total of 5,251 respondents, but 1,732 were filtered out because they were “not at all familiar” with CBD, leaving us with 3,519 eligible participants.

Similar to last year’s report, the respondents were segmented into groups based on their consumer status:

  • Current consumers: Respondents who are currently using CBD.
  • Past consumers: Respondents who have used CBD, but no longer do so.
  • Potential consumers: Respondents who aren’t currently using CBD, but would consider using it in the future.
  • Uninterested consumers: Respondents who are aware of CBD, but have no intention of using it.

Results were also analyzed by key demographic groups, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Region
  • Education Level
  • Income Level
  • Military/Veteran Status
  • Disability Status

Demographics

Over half (54.8%) of our respondents are 45 years of age or older.

Nearly three-fourths of respondents (73.3%) said they were White or Caucasian, while just over one in five (22.6%) identified as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, or Asian or Asian American. About 15% of all respondents indicated they were of Hispanic origin, many of which also identified as White or Caucasian.

We separated respondents into the four regions recognized by the United States Census Bureau: 23% are from the West, 39.9% are from the South, 20.7% are from the Midwest, and 16.4% are from the Northeast.

About half of respondents reported having no college degree (47.9%).

When asked about household income, about two-thirds of respondents (67.2%) said they make less than $75,000 annually.

About one-third of Americans have tried CBD (32.7%), another third have never tried but are aware of CBD (34.3%), while the last third have never heard of CBD (33%).

More than one in ten respondents (11.7%) reported a military status: 1% are active duty, 0.4% are reservists, and 10.3% are veterans.

Just over a fifth of respondents (20.1%) reported being temporarily (4.2%) or permanently (15.9%) disabled, compared to the nearly four-fifths (79.9%) who were not disabled.

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