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Consumers Open to CBD at Grocery Stores: Study

Food retailers are poised to leverage the top motivators of potential cannabidiol customers
Photograph: Shutterstock

High Yield Insights surveyed 2,000 adults in the U.S. on cannabidiol (CBD) products earlier this year and found that CBD consumers buy from a wide range of online and brick-and-mortar stores. CBD has operated in a legal grey area for years, only recently having reached full (more or less) legalization. Thus, broader availability of hemp-derived CBD is now possible.

To date, consumers have been shopping brand websites (31%), online retailers (24%) and natural food stores (21%), plus cannabis dispensaries (31%). But we’ve reached a pivot point. For example, convenience stores have shown signs of embracing CBD. Can and should food stores participate as well? Numerous chains are already testing the waters.

If grocery stores are to fully capitalize on the CBD boom, however, two consumer groups will be key: current CBD consumers looking for trusted, familiar sources; and potential CBD consumers seeking lower prices and easier access.

More than half (54%) of current consumers have used CBD for less than one year, which means shopping routines and loyalty haven’t yet been cemented. Nor are these consumers necessarily happy with today’s options; 32% would be more likely to buy from a grocery store if available. Further, a full two-thirds of current consumers are open to CBD products from well-known brands. Encountering CBD at a local grocery store, if properly executed, will not be off-putting.

New consumers will fuel explosive growth in the CBD market. Per our study, about 40% of U.S. adults would try CBD. Grocery stores are positioned to leverage two motivating factors reported by potential consumers: lower prices (46%) and easier access (42%).

Potential consumers want accessible prices and familiar products. Packaged baked goods, chocolates, capsules, gummies and candy make up the top five most desired products for these consumers. All are well-suited to spanning a range of price points.

Grocery stores also solve for easier access by having a “location, location, location” in closer proximity to consumers than many specialty stores and cannabis dispensaries.

Finally, stores will need to address a gap in education and trust. Fewer than 20% of current CBD consumers express confidence in the information printed on pack. Similarly, only one-third are confident in the safety of CBD products. Stores should take a multipronged approach to solving such concerns via in-store communication, consumer-friendly online materials, and upskilling associates. Shoppers need to feel that trial and error has been reduced if not eliminated through the engaged and mindful efforts of a trusted store.

Mike Luce is co-founder of Chicago-based High Yield Insights, which applies best practices and capabilities to the dynamic cannabis industry. He can be reached at mike@highyieldinsights.com.

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