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Eat, Drink, Apply, Inhale: New Study Explores CBD and Cannabis Consumption in Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers
June 30, 2020
Eat, Drink, Apply, Inhale: New Study Explores CBD and Cannabis Consumption in Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers

CHICAGO (June 30, 2020) – A new study from Chicago marketing agency Colman Brohan & Davis, Inc. (CBD Marketing) explores how U.S. adults talk about their use of CBD-cannabidiol and cannabis-marijuana products in their online conversations and posts. The report, “Generational Preferences in CBD/Cannabis Consumption: Insights from Online Conversations,” analyzed more than 3.6 million posts and other user-generated content over a one-year period ending January 2020.  The report has a special focus on Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers.

“Posts on social media platforms, blogs, forums and review sites are a window into consumer behaviors and attitudes,” Liz Brohan, CBD Marketing CEO noted. “By analyzing a large collection of content data points—overlaying a filter related to consumption and use of edibles, tinctures, oils, smoking and vaping—we’re able to provide businesses and brands in this category with useful insights for product development and marketing.”


Men are talking—a lot. Across all age groups, more men than women contribute to online conversations about cannabis, CBD and related products. Young men are especially chatty.

  • Overall, men generated 62 percent of conversations vs. 38 percent for women
  • Young men age 18-34 represent a 70 percent share of the 62 percent above

Twitter and Reddit dominate. They are the top two platforms where consumers share tips, information and pose questions about cannabis, CBD and related products.

  • Of the 3.6 million total posts analyzed:
    • 46 million on Twitter
    • 637K on Reddit
    • 333K on forums
    • 152K on blogs
    • 18K on review and comment sites

There’s still a big learning curve. Most consumers are still learning about different uses for cannabis and CBD products and are actively sourcing recommendations, opinions and answers online.

  • Conversations reveal interest in CBD and cannabis for pain, anxiety and depression.
  • There is still high negative sentiment attributed to cannabis-marijuana related to safety and side effects.
  • Conversations about CBD have a higher positive sentiment (43 percent positive) vs. conversations about cannabis (28 percent positive).

The oils have it. Oils as a use-consumption method had the most mentions—and the most positive sentiment ratings.

  • Oils represented 44 percent of total mentions; smoking 22 percent; edibles 20 percent; vaping 10 percent; tinctures 4 percent
  • Oils and tinctures have the highest positive sentiment; smoking and vaping the highest negatives.

Better to eat and drink it—but work on the taste. Consumers are eager to try—and are overall more positive—about CBD, hemp and cannabis in food and beverage applications, which are considered more natural and health-promoting forms of consumption than smoking or vaping.

  • Food and beverage-specific conversations are 80 percent positive or neutral.
  • Taste continues to be a challenge for CBD-cannabis infused food and beverages—especially for beverages. “I just tried hemp beer and anyone who claims to like this needs to stop pretending.”


Millennials (age 24-39)

Millennials represent 22 percent of the U.S. population and 52 percent of the U.S. adults who use marijuana; 76 percent support marijuana legalization. Importantly, 60 percent indicate social media influences their purchase decisions.  Online, Millennials tout the benefits of using cannabis and CBD products for stress, anxiety, and general wellness. Some say they use cannabis products as a replacement for medication. They are also in favor of more regulation to ensure the safety, quality and efficacy of CBD and cannabis products.

“I switched my meds to medical marijuana.”

“Is cannabis part of your self-care routine? Do you use different strains to find balance in energy or emotions?”

“CBD…needs to be regulated and tested just like any other medication.”

“So excited to know what I’m finally getting at the cannabis dispensary.”

“I have no control over a steady, precise amount of #CBD. This is the reality of prohibition.”

Gen Xers (age 40-55)

Gen X makes up 20 percent of the U.S. population. They account for 30 percent of the cannabis-consuming public in fully legal states and 65 percent support marijuana legalization. A health-literate generation, they are time pressed, often caring for children and aging parents. Gen Xers are divided on the benefits of CBD and cannabis products, with many debating effectiveness as well as potentially harmful side effects.  They may also be the most overlooked market for CBD and cannabis products, as media stories tend to focus on Millennials and Baby Boomers.

Gen X here. I use CBD. But the media don’t care about us, so….”

“It’s a FACT that cannabis helps fight pain.”

“I would rather smoke marijuana than take antidepressants or anxiety medication.”

“We need studies on CBD oil. Yes!”

“CBD oil is amazing but it doesn’t replace most medications. Telling me to drop a prescription and use CBD is stupid advice.”

Baby Boomers (age 56-74)

Boomers represent 22 percent of the U.S. population and are one of the fastest-growing cannabis and CBD consuming audience segments. Marijuana usage has increased 75 percent in this cohort from 2015-2018.  More than 60 percent support marijuana legalization and they are highly interested in wellness products. Boomers are the least negative of the generational groups when discussing CBD and cannabis and are turning to social media to discover new research and share their positive experiences.

“Have you tried CBD cream on your knees? I have had relief.”

“Have you tried medical marijuana? It helps my back, hip and sciatica pain.”

“Very good read #cannabis works better than #BigPharma; THC for sleep is safer than a pharmaceutical sleep aid.”


“When we listen to consumers’ voices online—as we did with this study—it’s clear they want to make informed choices. They value products that are tested and look online for confirmation in shared experiences that might indicate efficacy. As this industry rapidly matures and expands, now’s the time to learn as much as possible about consumer behaviors and motivations in order to prepare for the growth that is as inevitable as it is exciting. Studies like this one can be a critical tool,” Brohan concluded.

According to Brightfield Research, U.S. CBD sales of $23.7 billion are expected by 2023. According to Nielsen, U.S. legal weed-marijuana sales are expected to reach $41 billion by 2025. Download a copy of the complete study, “Generational Preferences in CBD/Cannabis Consumption: Insights from Online Conversations.”

About Colman Brohan & Davis, Inc. (CBD Marketing):  CBD Marketing is a Chicago-based integrated marketing and advertising agency that builds strong connections between brands and the hearts and minds of their customers. Founded in 1988, CBD Marketing serves national and global clients in manufacturing, energy, appliances, building products, education, retail, financial services, food, food ingredients and other industries. Companies and organizations count on the agency to Market What’s Meaningful®, building more intimate and profitable relationships in emotional and rational ways.

Jean Ban
CBD Marketing
312-259-4648 (C)

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