The cannabis movement of today echoes the natural products market of the 1990s
CBD is poised to be a major disruptive force across a variety of markets, but none more so than in the food and beverage and health and wellness sectors. We’ve seen this type of movement before.
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 a fad and prove their staying power. CBD might just be one of these ingredients. You can’t have a conversation today 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 if there is something larger going on that will sustain its momentum further into the future. What, then, is the buzz driving interest in CBD?
Similarities to the 1990s
In The Hartman Group’s Natural Sensibility 1998: A Study of Changing Culture and Lifestyle report, we observed an increasing number of consumers embracing activities promoting general health and wellness. Whether shopping, cooking, eating, exercising, reading or healing and taking care of themselves and their families, millions of Americans are participating in the marketplace that we define as “natural product worlds.” Healthier food, organic food, herbal and dietary supplements, natural personal care and household products, as well as a serious involvement with alternative medical treatments and practices, have come to represent lifestyle choices by which consumers can differentiate themselves in new and fulfilling ways.
Today, CBD jellybeans are a reality, major beverage and quick-service restaurant brands are contemplating CBD-infused beverages, and recreational marijuana is now legal in 11 states with medical marijuana legal in 33 states. This is very reminiscent of the fast-moving days of the late 1990s when natural and organic products were exploding into the mainstream from what had formerly been a niche industry.
CBD for Health and Wellness
Today, with linkages to the natural and organic movement, diverse cannabinoid products (including CBD) are storming into the vanguard of contemporary health and wellness culture.
Cannabis in all its varied forms promises significant disruption in the health and wellness industry, from food and beverages to supplements to pharmaceuticals. Current users in legal recreational states almost always have a health and wellness-related reason, even if they also enjoy cannabis’s recreational benefits.
The Hartman Group’s 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 of CBD speaks 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.
Cannabis offers an unusual combination of recreational and health and wellness benefits, made more acceptable by virtue of being natural and thus “better for you.”
Cannabis has strong appeal for consumers who seek more natural solutions for their health and wellness issues and goals. Our Health + Wellness 2019 report finds that more than half of consumers (56%) agree that the Food and Drug Administration should make marijuana legal nationwide to use for medical purposes.
Nationally, these attitudes are significantly higher among younger consumers, pointing to an even more tolerant future for cannabis. With few perceived side effects, cannabis is uniquely positioned as an alternative health and wellness modality that also fits within Western frameworks of treating both physical and mental issues with “medicine.”
The changing legal frameworks, rising consumer interest and established associations with natural medicine mean that cannabis is poised to be a major disruptor to the current health and wellness marketplace. Companies exploring opportunities within this burgeoning industry can set themselves up for success by:
– Understanding consumer health and wellness needs and expectations in legal cannabis markets: Cannabis offers current legal consumers compelling claims and reasons to believe, that promise considerable buy-in and are centered on health and wellness benefits — including the treatment of anxiety, stress, inflammation, pain, nausea and chronic conditions.
– Marketing that aligns with current quality cues and values in food and beverage: Cannabis products should be positioned to consumers in an accessible, easy-to-understand way that welcomes new consumers to the category.
– Learning from similar industry experiences, particularly the natural foods industry of the 1990s: The early natural foods industry was born of parallel health and wellness consumer interest in alternative modalities. Like that industry, the cannabis industry will need to move beyond its niche market to become more aligned with mainstream sensibilities in order to lessen the stigma and intimidation that mainstream consumers still feel about it.
The Hartman Group (www.hartman-group.com) is at the leading edge of demand-side food and beverage strategy. As CEO, Laurie Demeritt drives the vision, strategy, operations and results-oriented culture for the company’s associates as The Hartman Group furthers its offerings of tactical thinking, consumer and market intelligence, cultural competency and innovative intellectual capital to a global marketplace.