Chances are, you’ve heard of CBD — that non-psychoactive compound found in the hemp plant that’s popping up nearly everywhere. From gummies to tinctures, skincare products, and even dog food, CBD is staking its claim to fame among the wellness world as an all-new, cure-all magical elixir that everyone can benefit from. The implications for wellness marketing are enormous.
“Right now, CBD is the chemical equivalent to Bitcoin in 2016,” Jason DeLand, a New York advertising executive and a board member of Dosist — a cannabis company in Santa Monica, CA — told the New York Times. “It’s hot, everywhere, and yet nobody understands it.”
Some people do seem to understand CBD’s potential, though. According to cannabis industry analysts from the Brightfield Group project the CBD industry is poised to achieve $22 billion in the next three years — which means the hemp-CBD market is positioned to very soon become a mega-industry. To put this into perspective, this market is already nearly half the size of the Workplace Wellness segment, as reported by Global Wellness Institute.
So, wait, what is CBD?
Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that, yes, is found in the cannabis plant. The component is extracted from hemp using specialized methods designed to concentrate as much cannabidiol as possible — and none of its more famous cannabinoid cousin, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Because CBD is non-psychoactive, it won’t make users feel any sort of “high” — but that’s not to say you won’t feel anything at all. Advocates claim CBD treats a variety of ailments like inflammation, pain, acne, anxiety, insomnia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, and even some diseases like alcoholism and opioid addiction.
Okay, so who’s using CBD?
The short answer: Apparently everyone. “It’s kind of a movement,” Dr. Priyanka Sharma, owner of Colorado-based CBD company told Marijuana Business Daily. “It’s like everybody wants to use CBD — from elderly people with arthritis to young people who want to vape or have a recreational way to relax. It’s transcending all age groups.”
And this really isn’t all that surprising when you look at the history of American culture — we’re almost always seeking a “cure” for our times. Remember the postwar era when everyone was prescribed sedatives and sang along with Mick Jagger in The Rolling Stones’ Mother’s Little Helper? Or what about the 1990s when America turned into the Prozac Nation?
Today, people are anxious — especially millennials. We have “anxiety about our political dysfunction, anxiety about terrorism, anxiety about climate change, anxiety about student loan debt, even anxiety about artificial intelligence taking away all the good jobs. The anxiety feels even more acute since the wired generation feels continuously bombarded by new reasons to freak out, thanks to their smart devices,” Alex Williams of the New York Times wrote.
But CBD isn’t just helping anxious millennials. It’s helping boomers living with pain and arthritis, those of us who prioritize self-care and wellness, and even the beauty gurus. See Glamour magazine’s recent headline: I Replaced My Entire Beauty Routine with Only CBD Products.
What products are available?
CBD is there for the trendy foodies — and their dogs.
James New York-Nomad hotel offers a room-service CBD tasting menu, and the Standard hotels in Miami and New York sell $50 blood orange-flavored gumdrops. There’s even a mega-trendy nail salon/coffee shop/massage studio in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Chillhouse that’s redefined the whole “avocado toast” trend with their CBD-infused ricotta and honey toast.
And lest we forget the soon-to-be Sober Up detox drink that will be jam-packed with CBD and designed to support liver health and prevent hangovers. Plus, The PhytoLogica® line of products supports our canine/feline friends as well with Vitality-X, “an all-natural THC-Free CBD supplement…that promotes cardiovascular function, supports healthy joints, and promotes neurological health and emotional behavior.”
It’s there for the health and beauty connoisseurs.
With packaging buzzwords like “single origin,” “small batch,” and “plant-based” — CBD is dominating the health and beauty sector seemingly more than any other. Alex Williams of the New York Times noted that, “Among beauty products alone, CBD has already achieved cliché status, popping up in blemish creams, sleeping masks, shampoos, hair conditioners, eye serums, anti-acne lotions, mascaras, massage oils, soaps, lip balms, bath bombs, anti-wrinkle serums, muscle rubs and a Sephora aisle’s worth of moisturizers, face lotions and body creams.”
And it’s even carving a massive position in the medical world.
Right now, The National Institutes of Health database currently lists around 150 different studies involving CBD. And some physicians, like Dr. Esther Blessing, an assistant professor at New York University who is coordinating a study of CBD as a form of treatment for PTSD and alcohol use disorder claimed that “CBD is the most promising drug that has come out for neuropsychiatric diseases in the last 50 years. The reason it is so promising is that it has a unique combination of safety and effectiveness across a very broad range of conditions.” It may even be effective in the battle against cancer — with the potential to inhibit both cancer growth and its spread.
How wellness marketing teams can capitalize on the trend
As specialists across the health + wellness landscape, we know it’s not just the latest trends you’re after — it’s the science. And that’s what makes the CBD craze so full of opportunity. Yes, it’s trendy, but the research keeps revealing therapeutic benefits for the mind and the body. And, “given that it’s associated with the growing $3.72 trillion wellness industry, it makes sense that CBD would stand to benefit from the rising tide.”
So where do you start? First, separate the hype from the science. Second, make sure you stay true to your brand. Third, understand the attitudes and motivations of your audience. Fourth, find an agency partner whose focus and passion revolves around giving your health + wellness brand the momentum it needs to thrive.