As we round our way into the remaining weeks of summer, with rising temperatures and dew points still expected for many across the country, it’s a good time to revisit a cannabis format that is typically overlooked in the edibles category: beverages. Specifically, non-alcoholic beverages infused with THC or CBD or both.
When we looked at the edibles category for last year’s Consumers and Edibles report, beverages were not a popular category for consumers. Just 11% of edibles’ users reported consuming beverages. Granted, we were studying beverages infused with THC, but these figures made it seem as though THC-infused beverages were likely to remain a niche product in the edibles space.
And then CBD exploded.
Consumers have any number of format options for CBD, with the “traditional” forms of gummies, pre-rolls, vape pens, balms and oils, but it appears as though CBD-infused beverages have the opportunity to breakout in a way that their THC-infused cousins have not.
For our upcoming The CBD Consumer Experience Part 2, 17% of current CBD respondents reported currently consuming CBD beverages, with those aged 21-34 and men more likely to report doing so. Moreover, among non-users, nearly a third (30%) reported that they were interested in trying CBD-infused beverages.
A Drinkable Solution
The chief advantages that CBD beverages have over THC-infusions is, of course, dosing and distribution. While there are a number of THC beverages that come in 5-10mg single-serve options, many beverages are offered in a single bottle with 100-200mg of THC. The consumer is left to control their dosing, and as we know from countless studies on people’s eating and drinking habits, getting consumers to NOT consume what they are served is a fruitless endeavor. So instead of having an enjoyable high, these beverage tend to get consumers too high, for an unenjoyable experience. That danger also exists with CBD beverages but to a much less degree. Over-indulging on CBD isn’t likely to create the “couch lock” situation so many have experienced with THC edibles.
And then there is the simple fact that CBD beverages are everywhere. From gas stations to supermarkets to dispensaries to health food stores, sparkling waters, lemonades, sodas and all imaginable type of beverage in-between is not only being infused but also easily accessible. As a simply try for trial experience, the availability of these beverages in same context of well-known beverage brands communicates to the consumer that they are your regular favorite beverage with just something extra.
My Favorite Drink, Just with CBD
For consumers, these non-alcoholic CBD-infused beverages are the top type of cannabis beverage that they are interested in seeing. When we asked about interest in beverage products, it was non-alcoholic CBD infused drinks beating out beverages with THC and any alcohol variety. For consumers, they want the benefit of CBD without the muddling effects of alcohol and head-high effects of THC.
It’s not just consumers who are recognizing the appeal of CBD beverages. Companies are making multi-million-dollar bets on this market and rumors swirl about what new major company is going to enter next. Faced with declining consumption in mass-market beer and soda, their challenge is the same as anybody’s in the CBD marketplace today, making their product stand out in an increasingly crowded yet opening market, where consumers are interested but maybe not converted yet. They will have to address how the delivery of CBD via a beverage is more beneficial or more preferable vs a candy or other food item or even a topical. The challenge, in short, is both marketing and execution.