Chocolate with cannabis leaf

There will always be ingredients du jour that come in and out of food culture, but every now and then, one or two come along that go beyond the interesting and prove their staying power. CBD might just be one of these ingredients. Certainly today, you can’t have a conversation about food and beverage that doesn’t include CBD at some juncture. The question is whether CBD is merely an ingredient for the moment or is there something larger going on that will sustain its momentum farther into the future. What, then, is the buzz driving interest in CBD?

Our Health + Wellness 2019: From Moderation to Mindfulness report finds that CBD is tapping into some deeper-rooted drives consumers have around the connections between microbiome and emotional wellness and the functional benefits that CBD has that talk to that. CBD also taps into other important aspects of wellness like notions of indulgence, exploration and play giving CBD a lot of upside potential and unique marketing opportunities.

We’re at a point in food culture where consumers know so much about the ingredients in their foods and beverages that makes the dearth of knowledge in CBD so interesting. Many people are still unclear about the basic differences between CBD and THC (which one gives you a high?).

Because we’re at this nascent stage of knowledge, there’s a lot of personal trial and error here — and that’s where it’s going to be the most interesting; people are going to have to try things out for themselves. But, by and large, this idea of what CBD does and can do for you as an individual has a steep learning curve.

Right now, there is a lot of excitement being generated. You look at Instagram, for example, and it’s all over the place in terms of where CBD is showing up in foods, beverages, candies, tinctures and balms.

The Opportunity Ahead

CBD is poised to be a major disruptive force across a variety of markets, but none more so than food, beverage, and health and wellness. Today, with linkages to the natural and organic movement of the 1990’s, diverse cannabinoid products (including cannabis and CBD) are storming into the vanguard of contemporary health and wellness culture.

It may take a couple of years, aside from all the federal regulatory issues, for certain brands to rise to the top and show the way. There is a real opportunity here Hartman Group H+W 2019 coverfor a brand or brands to emerge that provides a consistent set of language, labeling and efficacy measures that the consumer can understand. Currently, no one know. It’s highly variable from brand to brand and efficacy is highly variable from person to person. Can a brand come in and not just say we have this cool CBD-infused product but provide a rubric for understanding this dynamic, interesting ingredient that has been part of our food history for a really long time.

Cannabis in all its varied forms promises significant disruption in a range of health and wellness categories ranging from foods and beverages to supplements and pharmaceuticals. Current cannabis users in legal recreational states almost always have a health and wellness-related reason for use, even if they also enjoy its recreational benefits. While cannabis suffers from recognizable stigma’s (notably historic linkages to “stoner” culture), the future of CBD products lies in moving beyond its counterculture origins to communicate its personal health benefits to mainstream consumers.

It’s about marrying the folklore with the proven scientific research and speaking to consumers at a food culturally and authentically-resonate level. As cited in the Health + Wellness 2019 report, some examples of emerging market segments for CBD include:

Younger consumers: CBD products appeal because younger consumers are looking for ways to relax, de-stress, and get to sleep—and not necessarily get high. Gen Z and Millennials are interested in both natural remedies to everyday physical and mental issues and functional foods and beverages.

Older consumers: CBD’s potential as an alternative to pharmaceutical pain relievers, sleep aids, and anti-inflammatories make it highly appealing to older consumers, who may be less interested in THC’s psychoactive components.

Athletes: Athletes are looking for alternatives to OTC anti-inflammation drugs, such as NSAIDs, which can be hard on the liver or stomach. High-profile endorsements from athletes will likely assist grow CBD product targeted at sports enthusiasts.

Pet owners: CBD is emerging as an effective, non-toxic aid for pets with anxiety and behavior issues.