Shopper preferences for CBD products are shifting. At the same time, average Americans are increasingly positive about CBD, and more than half of the country has now tried the cannabinoid.
What does this all mean for those of us focused on formulating the best, most successful CBD products on the market? Find out as we unpack a recent Forbes Health survey that provided unprecedented insight into the factors that make shoppers and CBD products come together.
The Forbes Health CBD survey: Key findings
Published in April 2022, a detailed survey in Forbes Health¹ showed just how far consumer sentiment in the United States has shifted in favor of CBD. Less than a decade ago, fewer than a third of Americans had tried CBD, but according to Forbes, the percentage of American adults who have used the cannabinoid is now in the majority: 60%.
The majority of Americans also believe CBD is safer than alcohol, but a third of adults still don’t know the differences between basic types of CBD products.
Below, we’ll break down the most important findings of the Forbes Health survey by category.
CBD gummies, capsules, and oils are the most popular
First, let’s take a look at the findings most relevant to our current inquiry: the types of CBD products that shoppers currently use. Forbes broke their survey results into the percentage of respondents who currently use each product type — multiple product types could be selected at once. The findings were as follows:
– Gummies & edibles: 58%
– Capsules: 55%
– Tinctures: 55%
– Lotions: 53%
– Other topicals: 42%
– Vapes: 32%
– Flower: 16%
Shooting past CBD oils to take first place are CBD gummies, a shift everyone with a stake in the industry should note immediately. Americans now prefer CBD gummies over all other CBD products.
More than half of the respondents who use CBD use lotions, which seems surprisingly high. Serums, balms, and other alternative topicals are also becoming increasingly popular — in fact, they’re nearly as popular as CBD tinctures.
Almost a third of American CBD users now use CBD vapes, a trend that has emerged unexpectedly. Plus, another 16% use CBD flower, making it important to track these product categories carefully going forward.
64% of Americans think CBD is safer than alcohol
What’s behind this sudden embrace of practically every CBD product category imaginable? Partially responsible is the fact that the American hive mind has completed its considerations, and it has determined CBD to be safe and desirable in most ways.
The majority (bordering on “most”) of Americans now believe CBD is safer than alcohol. With 64% of Americans now starting to recognize the impressive safety benefits of CBD, it’s clear that the current scope of the industry is only the beginning. The true growth potential of the CBD industry is only held back, at this point, by a lack of knowledge — an impediment that is about to be washed away.
60% of American adults have tried CBD
It has finally happened — the majority of Americans have used CBD. Some liked it, others loved it, and still others weren’t so sure. What’s incontrovertible, however, is that CBD has penetrated all the way to the heart of America, and it hasn’t found much resistance along the way.
What is there to resist, after all? CBD has few — if any² — serious side effects, and it can be offered in a way in which any associations with THC are entirely erased. Liberated from stigma and misconception, CBD becomes what it is — a remarkably effective natural compound with an impressive safety profile and low production cost.
CBD education remains minimal
Some Americans still don’t have much to judge CBD on. According to the Forbes Health survey, 33% of respondents flat-out don’t know the difference between isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum CBD. Another 23% weren’t sure, making only 43% of respondents certain they knew the difference.
Knowing what makes isolate CBD different from broad-spectrum isn’t a deal-breaker by any means. Having an idea of how much shoppers know regarding this single facet of the CBD industry, however, helps us better understand the general status of CBD education across all subjects. In short, CBD ambassadors haven’t done a great job explaining to the general public what the different kinds of CBD products are and what they do.
That’s not all the Forbes Health survey had to say, and we have some thoughts of our own to add as well. What does this sea change in the CBD industry mean in wider contexts? Let’s explore.
CBD is now remarkably popular and widespread
Take a moment, and let it sink in that the majority of Americans have now tried CBD. For those of us who have been involved in the industry from the very beginning, it sometimes seemed like this day would never come. We can look back now, though, and understand how we got here to predict where we’re going.
First, why is CBD now so popular? Because the reasons for using it have changed. CBD first entered the public awareness in the context of childhood epilepsy, and the focus then quickly shifted to chronic pain in adults. Now, there has been another shift — a much more important one.
People are using CBD primarily to relax (62%).
In regards to percentages, very few members of the population suffer from childhood epilepsy. More have chronic pain concerns, but not a plurality.
Every single person in the United States (and beyond, for that matter) likes to relax. Many of them specifically like to get just relaxed enough to not worry and feel better but not so relaxed that they feel high. In that way, CBD is a nearly perfect solution, and the average American has caught wind.
Quality will become increasingly important as education spreads
Primarily because people have sorted through the misguided marketing material sufficiently to realize CBD is relaxing even if you aren’t in pain, interest in the cannabinoid has recently caught on like wildfire. With mainstream interest, though, come mainstream critiques, making product quality an increasing priority for every ethical CBD company.
As we’ve mentioned, less than half of CBD shoppers are certain they know the difference between common types of CBD extracts. This particular facet of uncertainty is intimately tied to another: shopper perceptions of the danger of failing a drug test after using CBD.
Even as recently as 2022, 46% of Americans believed that using CBD could cause a positive drug test, a concern that — albeit rooted in valid science — is not relevant to most people who use CBD. As industry professionals know, only full-spectrum CBD has any chance of causing a positive drug test, and even then, you usually have to use quite a lot.
Average shoppers have very little to fear from drug testing after using CBD products. The occasional false positive does occur, but not to the extent that nearly half of Americans are justified in their worry that CBD might make them test positive for THC.
Speaking of testing, though, it will come out sooner or later that only 7% of CBD companies properly test their products for potency and contaminants. When the wall of ignorance breaks and that day inevitably comes, only those companies that offer genuinely high-quality, fully-tested products will see the other side.
There is plenty of room to add more cannabinoids
Social acceptability plays a massive role in shopping habits. Consumers will adopt new trends if they seem socially acceptable, and they’ll overlook the genuine merits of others if they’re deemed unacceptable.
To that end, it’s interesting to find out how Americans feel about the relative social acceptability of using the two most famous cannabinoids: CBD and THC. In the Forbes Health survey, 45% of respondents indicated that they felt CBD was socially acceptable to use but that THC isn’t. Comparatively, only 16% approved of using both CBD and THC.
For those with any understanding of the history of the CBD industry, this might come as something of a shock. CBD originally gained popularity exclusively among those who had some degree of openness to Cannabis sativa in general. As these data show, however, the core of the CBD shopper base has moved to those who approve of CBD but not THC.
What about cannabinoids that aren’t either CBD or THC, though? In the case of cannabinoids that are like CBD, the Forbes Health data show that consumers will be open-minded. They’ve accepted CBD already, after all, and they’re curious about what else the hemp plant has to offer.
The bottom line: How to offer CBD products shoppers want
Nobody seemingly steered the situation this way, but American shoppers now seem to equate CBD with their evening beer, albeit healthier. Sure, CBD is still used for pain, and it’s used for a lot of other purposes too. What all those purposes lack, though, is universality. Everyone needs to relax, and CBD seemingly gets the job done with practically zero drawbacks.
As long as it’s in the same line of relaxing, trustworthy CBD, shoppers will be eager to try whatever products you create. Cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN) are prime targets — especially CBN given its recent explosive growth trajectory and inherent associations with relaxation, the new prime driver of CBD sales.
Don’t make the mistake of believing everything associated with hemp will be accepted with the same enthusiasm, though. CBD users like the cannabinoid because of what it does, not because of what it is.
CBD shopper preferences FAQ
Learn more about how CBD shopping habits are developing below:
1. What are the most popular CBD products on the market?
Right now, the three most popular types of CBD products are gummies, capsules, and tinctures. These have remained the top 3 CBD product types for quite some time, but it’s only recently that gummies and edibles have overtaken tinctures to reach the number-one slot.
2. What are the 3 types of CBD?
The three major types of CBD extracts are isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum. As the name implies, isolate features isolated CBD — nothing else. Full-spectrum CBD, on the other hand, retains all the beneficial compounds present in CBD-rich hemp flower. Broad-spectrum does the same but removes any traces of THC — sometimes to the detriments of the natural, aromatic terpenes that emerge in Cannabis sativa during flowering.
3. What is the best CBD type?
Most users agree that broad-spectrum CBD is the best type of extract since it offers the best of both worlds. On the one hand, there is no THC, entirely eliminating any potential of failing a drug test. On the other, all the cannabinoids and terpenes present in full-spectrum extract are still there — provided that your broad-spectrum CBD was produced by a competent extractor, that is. However, there is no factual “best” type of CBD, just preference.
1. Hall, A. (2022, April 21). Survey: 64% Of U.S. Adults Think CBD Is Safer Than Alcohol, Despite Legality Concerns. Forbes Health. https://www.forbes.com/health/body/2022-cbd-survey/
2. Larsen, C. P., & Shahinas, J. (2020). Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 12(3), 129–141. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4090