What does the future hold for the CBD market?

Marcus Fox, Group Managing Director at CBD specialist retailer Origin’40, recently wrote the below article for Business Leader, where he explains what the future holds for the industry in the UK.

In 2021, approximately six million people in the UK were reported to have tried CBD, and with the last 18 months accelerating more of a focus to our wellness, the industry saw a particular increase. Due to additional stress, anxiety and worry caused by the pandemic, more people sought to natural remedies to help combat these – providing an opportunity for CBD to be considered in a more mainstream fashion.

More than one million people in the UK admit to use CBD regularly, however it continues to be a somewhat confusing space for many who remain wary of the product and are uncertain of how to use properly.

With hundreds of suppliers, products and different types of CBD available, from serums to even clothing today, the industry is showing no signs of slowing down. So, what does the future hold for the CBD market?

  1. Legislative reform and increased adoption!

The CBD market is currently both under regulated and overly restricted. This year, for the first time, the UK government has introduced legislation governing the licensing and voracity of CBD products. This is a brilliant step forward in the quest to normalising CBD and giving consumers confidence to try what is still perceived by many as “a drug.”

The Novel Foods legislation is a first exciting step in providing a safeguard and comfort to millions of consumers who will feel more confident to try CBD.

  1. Marketing regulation reform

However, restrictive rules around marketing and advertising CBD products still means awareness is very low compared to other CBD markets. The US market is deregulated in advertising, for example, and is five times’ bigger than the UK. The tide is turning, though, and brands are finally starting to mass-advertise at scale; including Cannaray’s recent famous campaign featuring Claudia Winkleman.

As these two legislative challenges relax and improve, the CBD industry is poised for a stratospheric growth trajectory. Only six million people have tried CBD in the UK, only 1.3m use it regularly – and the sector is poised to grow exponentially as more and more people become aware of its existence and potential benefits

  1. More personalised consultation required

With an explosion in mainstream consumers seeking to find out more about CBD, we see a corresponding drive to a consultation-led retail experience being at the centre of the market’s growth. Think of innovative products that have come to market in recent years; tech-enabled exercise, such as, Peloton, 100% sustainable clothing, like Allbirds, and electric scooters, Pure. All have brought new propositions to customers and all have needed the same thing – consultative and real-life sales support via retail stores to help customers understand the product and the subsequent benefit of their respective worlds.

We’re already starting to see demand from consumers that goes way beyond a typical product purchase; with wide networks of experts including GP’s and other healthcare professionals, CBD experts, scientists and others all being engaged by a curious consumer to find out more about CBD and the potential benefits.

  1. The age of product innovation

As the demand for in person consultation and trusted products accelerates, we expect to see continuous innovation and upheaval in the market. Major, well-funded brands such as Green Stem, Cannaray and Provacan will continue to invest heavily in growing their market share, and as the industry matures new and novel products will emerge on the market. The USA allows CBD to be infused in pet care products; Switzerland allows up to 2% THC (the stuff that gets you high!) in CBD, and the Netherlands prescribe medicinal cannabis on a regular basis. All of these innovations – and more – will come to the UK and continue to turbo charge both the size of the market, but also the need to help consumers understand the products on offer and make choices.

  1. A retail led expansion of CBD

We know that the future of making CBD mainstream and capitalising on the huge industry potential lies in high street stores, serving their local communities with well-informed and relatable store teams. Consumer confusion, apprehension and misunderstanding can only be truly overcome by consultation. We’re seeing really exciting results in how consumers, when they’ve had a brilliant in-depth conversation with a CBD expert, have incorporated CBD into their daily routines and seen growing, cumulative benefits.

We know that CBD is most effective as part of a person’s everyday routine, and as such that consultation, onboarding and ‘partnership’ led retail journey with customers is the most powerful way of enhancing the benefits CBD can bring.

However, the retail landscape in the UK is very fragmented, with no credible high street player. Those CBD stores that are out there are hobbyist, single store businesses, and larger High Street chains such as Boots & Holland & Barratt are really under scrutiny for the provenance of their products.

We also know that online only businesses will struggle to really satisfy that curious consumer’s fears and scepticism about CBD. In an age of internet misinformation, we’re seeing strong evidence that trusted, real world advocacy of CBD products is the key to unlocking mainstream growth.

  1. A Cannabis future?

Finally, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine an even more expansive future for the cannabis industry. In Canada, cannabis is now legalised for recreational use, a move replicated in many US states and gaining traction in EU countries.

Whilst the UK is still at the dawn of THC-containing cannabis use (currently licensed very strictly for a handful of medical conditions), we’d wager that in the coming years that position will shift!