Five Key Findings from New Frontier Data’s European CBD Survey
By Bill Griffin, Special Contributor to New Frontier Data
New Frontier Data recently completed a comprehensive European consumer survey focusing on cannabidiol (CBD) and the rates of public awareness and the compound’s use among consumers throughout 17 countries across the continent. Continuing New Frontier Data’s in-depth consumer research on CBD, the findings in The EU CBD Consumer Report: 2019 Overview shed light on the EU’s rapidly developing sector.
Here are five highlights of what was discovered:
The European CBD market has great potential.
Europe’s CBD market is immature compared to the US. However, the growing consumer base has positive views of the cannabinoid, creating a solid foundation for future growth.
According to feedback from 3,100 respondents, 16% of European adults have used CBD, with the majority (58%) first having done so in the previous six months.
Nearly three-quarters (74%) of consumers said that CBD has positively impacted their lives. Such a strong level of positive feedback should likely offer encouragement to CBD brands developing business plans to drive new adoption.
Among established consumers, monthly spending on CBD is relatively high yet still rising. Nearly one-third of European consumers reported spending more than €100 per month on CBD products; meanwhile, 41% said that their spending had increased over the preceding six months, with 44% expecting their spending to rise further in the following six months.
Price and convenience trump brand loyalty.
More than 8 in 10 (81%) among consumers reported price as being important or very important in their CBD purchase decision. It was perceived with higher importance than other considerations, including the product’s dosing (75%), the total amount of CBD in the product (74%), the product’s lab test results (64%), or the other ingredients which make up the product (64%).
Similarly, convenience is perceived as being more influential than brand loyalty in shaping CBD purchases: 70% of consumers reported selecting whatever CBD products were most convenient, compared to 54% preferring a certain CBD brand.
Nearly half (48%) said that they switch brands based on price. Given such still-malleable brand preferences, it will be important for CBD companies to closely monitor their comparative pricing in the market, and to deploy creative approaches for incentivising repeat purchases and reinforcing brand loyalty.
Europe’s CBD marketplace is crowded – especially online.
No single CBD company demonstrated brand familiarity scoring above 10% among European respondents. Yet, as more Europeans embrace CBD there will be significant opportunity to build a continent-wide brand. Doing so effectively will require a nuanced understanding of the differences between the continental market’s eight defined regions, and creating products (and messaging strategies) well aligned to meet the needs of the their fastest-growing consumer groups.
With low barriers to entry and limited regulatory oversight, online sales of CBD have taken off faster than in any other retail channel.
Word of mouth is key: Approximately one-fifth (18%) of respondents identified friends and family as their primary source of information about CBD, on par with either social media (21%) and newspapers or internet searches (19% each). Leveraging those options should likely encourage CBD brands to include word-of-mouth marketing strategies.
About one-quarter of respondents (23%) reported having had someone recommend CBD to them; among those, a majority (63%) said that most of the feedback came from friends.
Referral programs (where customers get discounts or rewards for bringing in new customers) or brand ambassador programs can be effective in driving organic buzz, even as more conventional consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketing strategies are used to build brand visibility across the market.
A large segment of CBD consumers combined reported either getting their CBD from friends (35%) or from a family member (12%). The role of personal connections in both learning about and acquiring CBD products presents an important channel to build brand awareness and engage new consumers by tapping into the enthusiasm and passion of the most evangelical CBD consumers.
Some Europeans still think CBD gets you high.
Europeans surveyed do not fully understand where CBD fits within the broader cannabis market, and the confusion may be impacting consumer adoption. While most (55%) believe that CBD has valid medical uses, just over half (53%) of the survey respondents combined reported either believing that CBD consumption gets the user high (25%), or that they were uncertain (28%).
A majority (60%) did not know whether CBD was legal in their market. Such lack of clarity on basic issues may be negatively impacting consumers’ interest in trying CBD, especially among those who may be concerned that CBD will get them “high” despite the compound’s lack of psychotropic THC.
Given such, it will be critical for marketers to present consumer education campaigns to affirm the legality of CBD in appropriate markets, and to provide suggestions as to when and how to use CBD, and to shape expectations about results.
For a more comprehensive review of The EU CBD Consumer Report: 2019 Overview, download the full report here to gain deeper insight into Europe’s expansively emerging consumer markets.