Picture walking into a CBD dispensary in Oregon five years ago. You may have bought a CBD tincture, a trusted product from a prominent brand. It was overpriced - costing around 30 cents per milligram of CBD - and tasted bad... but it worked.
Walk into any CBD store today and you'll find a comprehensive array of products - CBD gummies, edibles, vape pens, topicals, capsules, and of course the familiar CBD tinctures. It's quite a far cry from just a few years ago. The scene has changed. Here are 5 trends to look out for this holiday season:
1. Dispensaries are less relevant
The CBD industry continues to grow at a record pace. It's estimated that CBD sales will reach nearly 2 billion by 2022. Right now, CBD products are pouring through health food stores, online mediums, vape shops, and even gas stations. The ever-popular CBD dispensaries we talked about earlier? They barely even make it into the top 5 ways that people get their CBD. In a sense, the CBD-only store has lost its novelty, at least in areas where cannabis has been legalized.
2. Bottoms up: CBD-infused beverages are a thing
More and more products are making it onto market. CBD-infused coffee is catching on, and is sure to be a hit this holiday season, especially when made-to-order in swank coffee shops. Indeed, an entire wholesaler’s market has been created specifically for coffee shops, juice bars, and the like.
Other novel products include hemp infused beer (hemp and hops are in the same plant family, after all), hemp cigarettes, and even hemp enema kits. In areas where cannabis is still illegal, hemp joints - made with flower material that looks just like its illegal cousin - are a huge hit. No pun intended.
3. Growing pains for the growers
As sales grow, demand for CBD products has also grown - large enough to stretch the industry's current supply chain. Hemp farmers are in high demand, as are extraction technicians, lab workers, and product formulators. On the branding side, CBD companies are desperate for sales specialists and marketing experts. Consumers are demanding larger amounts of cheaper products, and everyone else is trying to figure out how to make it possible.
The price of hemp flower material is still artificially high, however, especially on the sales side, where product prices are still sometimes based off black market equivalents. Hopefully this will change as more retailers compete to sell hemp flower products, which may not be seen as a novelty much longer.
4. CBD companies come with a cause
With this influx of new customers has come an influx of new companies. Often incorporating appealing names and natural, earthy vibes, these CBD newcomers are as idealistic as they are business savvy. Trends like sustainability, farmer empowerment, and product transparency are highlighted and acted upon. Hemp is a plant that has the potential to pull the whole world up with it - at least, that's the vision many industry veterans have caught.
5. Prices are coming down
The result of this increasing market saturation? Prices of hemp and its derivatives continue to drop. The average 1,000 milligram CBD oil tincture now costs ~$100. While that's still expensive - 1,000mg's should last the average person only one or two months - it's a drastic improvement over the market prices of years past. As stated earlier, packages and branded hemp flower continues to be expensive, but that’s likely the only exception to the rules of supply and demand. Hemp flower pricing will likely drop drastically next fall, as an enormous nationwide hemp harvest comes in.
6. Customers are looking for customization
Thankfully, today's CBD consumers know how to navigate through all these product choices. Gleaning the benefits of cheaper products and their own education, seasoned users ask informed questions, do their own research, and might talk casually with friends about the endocannabinoid system. They likely have a favorite brand, based on their own personal experience with CBD, or they might work for a MLM company and prefer to use and sell their products.
With this heightened awareness comes higher standards. Some consumers are moving onwards and seeking out custom products, like tinctures specifically for improved sleep or edibles specifically for athletes.
For companies that want to stand out, custom products are becoming increasingly important. They’re also important to those who want to give the perfect gift. Someone who’s always tried a 300mg tincture, for example, might be inspired by the thought of giving to splurge on a 5,000 milligram, Rick Simpson Oil - esque concentrate. Novelty concentrates are making their way into the market too, after all.
With the holidays coming up, expect to see a sharp spike in CBD sales, especially coming from the big manufacturers like Charlotte's Web or Elixinol. And since CBD's health benefits are usually experienced within 30 days, it's likely that this sales uptrend will maintain momentum even after traditional consumerism peaks have passed, as satisfied first time customers make a first reorder.
A lot has changed in the fledgling CBD Industry so far, many things for the better. The only factor that hasn't? That CBD still works. Looking forward to the holidays, expect to see novelty products experience the highest percentage of growth, followed by vape pens, edibles, tinctures, and ‘swag’ like T-shirts or even hemp-themed Christmas sweaters.
New companies will offer steeply discounted promotional items as they try to capture more market share - and larger brands like CW Hemp may not feel the need to keep up. For this reason, niche brands and relationship-based MLM companies may actually outpace established retailers for the first time this holiday season. Online sales might actually be overlooked in favor of whatever product stay at home parents might be promoted. Though there are some unknowns, what is certain is that CBD is poised to have its best year yet. The year’s total sales should surpass $500 million just before Christmastime.