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5 THINGS UK MARKETERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HOW CONSUMERS USE CBD

5 things UK marketers should know about how consumers use CBD

By Melissa Bane, Managing Director | August 20, 2019

The next wave of the CBD Revolution has hit the UK. In 2019, UK sales of CBD products nearly doubled.

A Grail Insights 2019 survey of 1,013 UK consumers looks at how and why consumers are using or considering CBD. Do UK users differ from US users? What motivates trial and what benefits are UK consumers seeking? And more importantly, how will this impact your business (if it isn't already)?

Given the trends we’ve seen play out in the US, it’s only a matter of time before a wide range of industries -- from traditional pharmaceuticals to FMCG -- are affected on this side of the Atlantic. Check out the TOP FIVE CBD takeaways from our UK survey.

#1: AWARENESS IS HIGH AND EXPECTED TO GROW

UK consumers show a growing interest in CBD, with 68% of respondents aware of it and 11% of them having already tried CBD. While these levels are lower than those in the US, consideration for trial amongst those aware of the category is similar across both markets: 25% for the UK vs. 29% for the US.

Trial and use levels in the UK look on track to catch up with the US. CBD is already available in a broad variety of formats across the UK and is even popping up in pop culture.

#2: UK CONSUMERS USE CBD TO QUIT OR REDUCE SMOKING

Nearly one-in-three UK consumers who are using CBD are doing so to help them quit or reduce smoking. This number is significantly higher than the one-in-ten CBD users in the US who use it for this purpose. This is potentially driven by the higher cost of tobacco in the UK. Whatever the cause, smoking cessation is a strong motivator for UK CBD users, which has clear implications for tobacco and tobacco adjacent industries.

We see a much lower number of CBD users in the UK turning to CBD to alleviate medical conditions such as stress, insomnia, and joint pain. Is this because there's less stress, insomnia and joint pain in the UK? Possibly. But it could also mean that CBD does not yet pose as formidable of a threat to Big Pharma in the UK as it does in the US. As CBD awareness grows, that could change.

Interestingly, UK consumers are also more likely than US consumers to use CBD for their pets.

#3: OIL EXTRACTS ARE THE FORMAT OF CHOICE FOR UK USERS

Regular CBD users like their CBD in oil extract format. New users also like oil extracts, but we see a marginally higher preference for vaping devices amongst new users. The drop off seen in vaping device preference for regular use in the UK contrasts with our findings in the US, where consumers showed a greater affinity to continue vaping CBD.

We also see a difference in regular CBD usage. Americans like their CBD gummy bears, while UK users prefer oils and vape pens. It's not that UK consumers don't have a sweet tooth. It's more likely the difference is driven by legislation that is impacting the evolution of CBD formats in the UK market. Consumables fall within the purview of this legislation, while oils (as they are consumed sub-lingually) do not. However, we did see capsules gaining wider acceptance for regular use in the UK compared to the US.

#4: TRY ONLINE, BUY ACROSS CHANNELS FOR REGULAR USE

UK consumers prefer to buy their CBD online. Over half of those trying CBD purchased it online. In contrast, specialty stores are the most common trial channel in the US. This could simply be a result of better brick-and-mortar coverage in the US.

A fair number of regular CBD users in the UK complete their purchases across multiple channels – including both online and offline options. This is in stark contrast with the US, where we saw online stores as the most-used channel for regular users.

At the recent Europe CBD Expo in London in July 2019, several providers hinted that imminent distribution deals at major chains like Boots were underway. As a result, we expect more brick-and-more purchases in the future.

#5: FRIENDS TELL FRIENDS ABOUT CBD

In the UK, as in the US, the most effective source of awareness driving both trial and regular use are friends and family. Store employees were the other key source. This clearly shows that personal interaction is key to driving awareness and sales in the category.

News reports continued to have a significant reach, with the majority of those aware of CBD citing news as a key source to learn about cannabidiol. This was similar to the trend we saw in the US, although store staff came out as slightly more effective in the UK compared to the US.

HOW WILL THE CBD REVOLUTION CHANGE YOUR BUSINESS?

The CBD wave has hit the UK and is shaking up industries from pharmaceuticals to personal care. Grail has user insights by varied demographics and we are actively tracking the changes in this fast-moving market. Do you need to measure the impact of CBD on your business or better understand the competitive landscape? Grail can help. Contact us today at hello@grailinsights.com