It will not be an exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every industry as well as most people in 2020, and unfortunately, it is still an ongoing situation. Some industries were negatively affected due to lockdowns, restrictions and their consequences, such as closing non-essential retails or canceling mass events. In contrast, others have boosted their sales due to those very reasons.
One of the most exciting markets to study is the cannabidiol (CBD) market, and there are two reasons why. First of all, it’s due to its recent popularity as a wellness trend and development in the beauty industry. Secondly, it became one of the attention-grabbing topics after the untrue claims that it can be used to prevent and treat the coronavirus.
Already well-known cannabidiol can be found in hemp, and contrary to THC, it has no psychoactive effects. It is frequently used to produce dietary supplements, food products, and medicines. Numerous clinical studies have confirmed its positive impact on the central nervous system, digestion and metabolism, cardiovascular system, skin condition, immune system – and the list goes on. Thus, CBD-based products might be claimed to be useful in fighting novel viruses, even though they actually are not.
CBD industry always draws attention as it has great potential but remains controversial due to its legal operation’s inconsistency depending on the state. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits brands’ advertising possibilities by restricting their use of any medical claims about CBD’s curing properties. Let’s take a closer look at the changes that the coronavirus has brought to the CBD market’s functioning.
Changes in Marketing Strategies
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many CBD brands used various channels to promote their products – event marketing, educational workshops, ambassadors from the sports industry, social media platforms, billboards, and many more. Due to coronavirus restrictions that restrained people from attending mass events as well as non-essential stores, CBD businesses were forced to move to e-commerce sales and online marketing strategies completely. Channels of promotion that CBD brands switched their focus to include:
- CBD affiliate programs;
- influencer marketing strategies;
- sponsoring podcasts;
- promoting business accounts on social media platforms;
- email marketing;
Podcasts and working with influencers turned out to be the most beneficial solutions for promoting CBD products on the internet. Some CBD-related podcasts aimed at educating and providing information became more popular, causing an indirect impact on CBD product sales.
Podcasting itself has been spiking during the lockdown. For many people, podcasts have become the best way to entertain themselves and get through social isolation by providing the impression of participating in a conversation, not to mention its educational aspects. It is a perfect way for companies to reach out to CBD consumers, and one of the brightest examples is a partnership between a leading podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience with cbdMD. With Joe Rogan being a famous comedian and sports commentator, it is an ideal way to reach out to, for example, physical activity enthusiasts by promoting CBD products that help recover even after the most intense workout.
During the pandemic, Instagram became the natural habitat for many people, as there is simply nowhere else to go. With the closing of brick-and-mortar stores, CBD brands had no other choice except emphasizing social media initiatives. Working with influencers helped many of them to establish communication with consumers as well as build brand awareness.
Virtual events became the only possible alternative to many various activities, from educational programs to workouts and yoga sessions at home. Thus, partnerships or affiliate programs with influencers, YouTubers, or bloggers who were forced to move their work online – like yoga instructors or gym coaches – became a common thing.
Another tendency that developed during the lockdown is brands’ investment in content creation. Many businesses started updating their website’s blogs as well as creating informative content for their social media accounts that is not limited to describing and promoting their CBD products only.
Conversely, companies went way beyond their own products in order to provide consumers with research-based information about CBD’s properties, marijuana itself, and methods of its use. Thus, such business accounts become reliable and trustworthy resources for their clients where they can find both theoretical base and practical implementation – from recipes for CBD beverages to post-exercise energy drinks, or even advantages of using CBD for pets.
Increase in Customers Interest
Coronavirus is something that we have never experienced before on a global scale, so it is normal to feel lost, uncertain about tomorrow, and suppressed by isolation conditions. The global pandemic itself, as well as the restrictions it entailed, have provoked an increase in people’s anxiety and stress levels, resulting in insomnia, headaches, and other health issues. As a result, people who are already familiar with CBD products and their properties continued or even increased their consumption.
According to The Brightfield Group’s consumer research, “39% [of CBD consumers] indicated they expected to use more CBD during the COVID-19 crisis. This is particularly true amongst Millennials and Gen Z consumers – 49% plan on using more CBD in the weeks and months to come.”
During the lockdown, self-care became an essential part of people’s daily routine, as it is an excellent way to establish some consistency in such unstable times and be mindful of your own feelings or just to pass the time. CBD products and hemp supplements have become the hottest wellness hits even before the pandemic, so there is nothing surprising about a boosted increase in sales.
Eventually, with an enormous amount of freed-up time, even novices discovered CBD products – right after the baking banana bread experience. According to Grand View Research, “the global CBD consumer health market size was valued at USD 8.2 billion in 2019 and is projected to expand at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.6% from 2020 to 2027. The leading factor attributed to the growth is the positive government reforms for the legalization of cannabidiol (CBD) in various regions.”
With an approximate number of 3500 CBD brands on the market in early 2020, the industry was already extraordinarily competitive and overcrowded. Many of these brands, especially small businesses, lost their money invested in industry events or target markets that were eventually canceled as well as the possibility of additional, hard-won streams of revenue. Closings of offline stores have affected those small brands as many of them rely on local retailers to spread the bulk of their CBD products. Besides, a legal grey area around the CBD industry makes it extremely challenging for CBD businesses to apply for loans or other support.
Unfortunately, the widespread shuttering of small retailers around the United States is more likely to be a lethal threat for small businesses in the CBD market that have no resources to maintain e-commerce functioning as well as online marketing strategies on the same level as bigger players. For that reason, larger brands that take more stable positions in the market and are able to offer their clients online shopping options and proper customer support have more chances to survive the crisis. Thus, the whole CBD market is expected to become less crowded, but with a greater part of more prominent companies, it will not become less competitive and may even heighten the barrier to entry.
Another possible reason for the decrease in the CBD market is an increase in enforcement actions due to some unethical and illegal claims that CBD can cure or protect from the COVID-19 virus or be used as an opioid replacement. Those claims entailed the FDA to crack down the whole industry as well as CBD manufacturers and continue to monitor any fraudulent claims actively.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced significant changes into any business, including the CBD industry. The stuffed market with thousands of CBD brands and cannabis-based products has experienced many limitations like shuttering brick-and-mortar stores or canceling niche events. Many companies were forced to adjust to coronavirus-related restrictions or just leave the battlefield.
Fortunately, there were positive effects. Many businesses switched to e-commerce and online marketing strategies that allowed them to evolve their brand awareness, reach out to even more customers by expanding their target audience, and provide their clients with entertaining and informational content. Those factors only strengthen their market position.
There is also a noticeable increase in consumer interest in CBD products and their beneficial impact on overall well-being. Many people discovered a novel remedy for their chronic pain or reducing anxiety and stress levels, or an additional step for their skincare routine. At the same time, experienced consumers tended to make CBD products their essential purchase.
It is a challenging time for small businesses, but with a positive approach, thinking outside the box, and seeking creative content solutions, they still have chances to grab the attention and stay afloat.
FAQs About CBD Business And The Pandemic
Question: Are CBD businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Answer: Every industry is affected by the pandemic including CBD businesses. Due to coronavirus restrictions that restrained people from going to non-essential stores, CBD businesses were forced to think of a way to sell their products like creating e-commerce store and online marketing.
Question: What are the ways CBD business can use to promote their products online?
Answer: Some of the ways that they can use include creating affiliate programs, hiring influencers to promote their brand, sponsoring podcasts, promoting in social media platforms, email marketing, and blogging.
Question: Do CBD users consume more CBD during the pandemic or before?
Answer: Due to restrictions, stress levels and anxiety went up and people are relying more on wellness products to help them. CBD is one of those products. One study shows that people who are taking CBD increase their consumption by 39%.
Question: What are the positive effects of the pandemic in the CBD business?
Answer: Many businesses switched to e-commerce and online marketing strategies that allowed them to evolve their brand awareness, reach out to even more customers by expanding their target audience, and provide their clients with entertaining and informational content.