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Two-Year Study Spotlights Generational Divides in CBD Use; Boomers Want Proof Points, Gen X are Emerging Fans, Millennials Focus on Wellness
April 15, 2020
Two-Year Study Spotlights Generational Divides in CBD Use; Boomers Want Proof Points, Gen X are Emerging Fans, Millennials Focus on Wellness

CHICAGO (April 15, 2020) – A new, two-year study from Chicago marketing agency Colman Brohan & Davis, Inc. (CBD Marketing) shines a spotlight on generational differences in the use of non-THC CBD and CBD-infused products. The study also focuses on the important role social media plays in influencing how the “CBD experience” is shared online with friends and communities of interest.

The new report, “How Online Word-of-Mouth is Influencing Generational Preferences in the Use of CBD,” analyzes more than 3.5 million U.S. social media posts and other online, user-generated content. The tracking started in January 2018 and concluded in January 2020. Content was divided almost evenly between women and men (55 percent vs. 45 percent).

“If you are a business with even a small footprint in the CBD product market, understanding the importance of online and social media channels is critical,” notes Liz Brohan, CBD Marketing’s CEO. “This is where consumers’ views are openly shared. With non-THC CBD products readily available across the country and sold online, it’s imperative for companies to understand how different generational groups talk about these products, leveraging those insights in product development and marketing. This study can help.”

Generational Differences and Preferences

This study is based on segregating content from Baby Boomers (age 56-74), who generated 37 percent of the content; Gen X (age 40-55), who generated 19 percent of the content; Millennials (age 24-39) who generated 44 percent of the content.

Baby Boomers are “investigating” and looking for the facts.

While this is an important demographic age group, Boomers are less likely to be familiar with CBD products. Therefore, they are often looking for information and facts—about its legality as well as its efficacy for certain conditions. Many posts have to do with joint pain, inflammation and issues related to healthy aging. More than 51 percent of those who say they have tried CBD products report having an improved quality of life and attest to its “healing powers.”

Posts are 84 percent positive.

Gen Xers are Emerging Fans.

Of the three age groups studied, Gen X had the fewest total posts about CBD products. A health literate generation, they are time pressed, often caring for children and aging parents. With typical middle-age maladies like weight gain and muscle loss, they are also the next generation looking for relief from joint pain and other conditions already being addressed by their Boomer cousins.  Gen Xers talk about very specific health benefits related to CBD use—relief from chronic pain, inflammation, reducing anxiety as well as skin care and beauty benefits and, importantly, no “high” feeling.

Posts are 81 percent positive.

Millennials are already advocates, especially for mental health and wellness benefits.

Millennials have already overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generational group. Millennials have amplified the market for all manner of health, wellness and lifestyle products described as natural, clean label and organic. They are more likely than their parents to talk about mental health, and they do so on social media, where 71% engage daily. Their comments often refer to CBD helping with anxiety and depression, and having a calming effect. Comments include “I finally feel normal now” and “it works wonders for people with severe anxiety like myself” in addition to posts about CBD products being a natural pain management solution.

Posts are 86 percent positive.

General Findings

Regardless of age grouping—people are actively sourcing recommendations and opinions about CBD products and CBD efficacy on social media platforms, review sites, blogs and other online forums. Over the two-year period, the amount of online conversations on this topic increased steadily, with the average number of tracked monthly conversations increasing from about 15,000 in the U.S. in January of 2018 to more than 30,000 per month in December of 2019.  A peak month, May of 2019, recorded 60,000 posts.

Online conversations revolved around the following “top terms” related to certain end-use applications:

  • Pain management: 91 percent of the posts are positive
  • Mental health: 90 percent of the posts are positive
  • General health, wellness and beauty: 92 percent of the posts are positive
  • Food and beverages: 85 percent of the posts are positive
  • Pet care/treatments: 95 percent of the posts are positive

Preparing for Growth

“It’s clear that CBD products have taken the mainstream health, wellness, beauty and food industries by storm. With the market continuing to evolve, now’s the time to learn as much as possible about consumer behavior and motivations in order to prepare for the growth that is as inevitable as it is exciting,” Brohan concludes.

According to Brightfield Research, U.S. CBD sales of $23.7 billion are expected by 2023, up from about $620 million in 2018. That’s a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 107 percent.

About Colman Brohan & Davis, Inc. (CBD Marketing): Founded in 1988, CBD Marketing is a full-service, integrated agency serving companies in a wide range of B2B and B2C industry categories. Its state-of-the-art software platform tracks online conversations about topics of interest to its client roster of national and global manufacturers and marketers, including those with an interest in the non-THC CBD and Cannabinoid markets. Download the complete study, “How Online Word-of-Mouth is Influencing Generational Preferences in the Use of CBD” from the CBD page on our website

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