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Who is Buying CBD Products?

Nearly one in three (31%) long-time cannabis users considered buying a CBD product, while only one in five (21%) actually did, according to a new report from Deloitte. When we consider that long-time cannabis users (as opposed to new consumers) are the category that is the least interested in CBD, we can see that there seems to be a hidden CBD market quietly growing alongside its more boisterous brother THC.

Who’s Interested in CBD?

Deloitte’s report outlines three types of cannabis consumers: existing consumers, who consumed cannabis before and after September 2020; returning consumers, who resumed their cannabis use on or after September 2020 and hadn’t consumed since before legalization; and new consumers, who started using cannabis on or after September 2020.

The report reveals that 39% of new consumers prefer CBD-only products, compared to only 15% that prefer THC-only products, while 36% prefer a combination of both. Returning customers show a similar trend, except their preference leans more towards the combo. Many (54%) enjoy the THC- and CBD-based products, but 22% still prefer CBD-only, compared to 13% who prefer THC-only.

Comparatively, only 10% of existing consumers prefer CBD-only products, while 26% want THC-only.

Why Do They Want It?

This trend towards CBD in new consumers has a clear connection with the trend towards health and wellness—two words that are becoming more and more associated with cannabis, despite Health Canada’s prohibition on making health claims about it.

Deloitte reports that 58% of new customers and 49% of returning customers said they use cannabis to help them relax and sleep better or to help with anxiety (47% and 45%, respectively), and nearly half (47%) of both groups said they use it for specific health reasons.

In conjunction with this trend, new and returning customers seem less interested in combustible products. Only 11% of new customers used dried flower during the survey period, while 40% said they purchased edibles and 38% used oils. Returning customers are fonder of flower, but not by much, with only 29% having purchased or used some during the survey period, compared to 56% of existing users.

Educating Customers

Under Health Canada regulations, cannabis and CBD cannot be associated with health benefits, so industry professionals are unable to educate customers about this cannabinoid as much as they would like, however, it’s clear there is interest from consumers. New and returning customers appear willing to do their own research, but existing consumers who consider themselves traditionalists, or who may not even know these products exist, may need a bit of guidance.

As cannabis continues to shake off its stigma and budtenders and educators keep getting the word out, more people who had never considered cannabis because of its legal status are beginning to come on board. While many of us in the industry would consider ourselves existing consumers, it’s important to consider the new crop of consumers and what they may be looking for.

Existing consumers Returning consumers New
consumers
THC only 26% 13% 15%
THC and CBD 56% 54% 36%
CBD only 10% 22% 39%
Other / Don’t know 7% 11% 10%

Source: Deloitte