Beverage and beverage additive products account for just 6% of grocery CBD sales, but Nielsen tracking shows two of the five subcategories experiencing the highest growth this year are beverages: sparkling-infused CBD waters and CBD packaged teas.
“Despite lower penetration, cannabis-infused beverages overall are an area rife for growth and innovation in the future,” says Rick Maturo, associate director of client services for Nielsen’s cannabis practice. He predicts that CBD-infused beverages could grow 350% over the next year if FDA roadblocks were lifted.
The reason for his optimism? Accessibility for new consumers.
“Beverages in general are an attractive option for infrequent or ‘canna-curious’ consumers because they’re in a familiar format: Everyone knows how to drink a drink,” he says. “Beverages are also a good option for those who do not want to inhale anything and for those who find the taste/scent profile of cannabis off-putting.”
Miguel Martin, president and CEO of Natick, Mass.-based Reliva CBD, agrees that demand is high not just for beverages but any familiar form, noting that while products such as tinctures are preferred by mature CBD shoppers, the price point can drive away a newer customer.
“The goal with this category—as with any new category—is to attract more customers,” he says. “You do this by offering them familiar products. A gummy is approachable. A drink mix is approachable. You have to be thoughtful about giving consumers formats that they’re accustomed to and making sure the price points are attractive so you can cast the widest net possible.”
Which isn’t to say topicals and nutraceuticals are going anywhere. Martin says the best retailers have a two-prong approach. “They have trial items to encourage consumers to try the latest offerings, but they also carry tried-and-true everyday items,” he says. “The combination of those two with reasonable price points has been the secret sauce.”