The 4/20 Forecast: Changing Faces & Going for Gummies

The 4/20 Forecast: Changing Faces & Going for Gummies

As the 4/20 holiday approaches, companies within the cannabis and broader cannabinoid industries have the chance not only to celebrate this wonderful plant but to explore how this industry has progressed. Over the last few years we’ve seen substantial shifts in the types of products available, who's buying them, and the reasons they're being used. We’ve seen the rise of psychoactive hemp-derived cannabinoids and novel CBD formulations hit the market, both appealing to new consumer groups and need states and providing consumers with an array of cannabinoid options.

A Real Look at Who's Buying What

Even as some regulated cannabinoid market exceed a decade of operations, Brightfield Group consumer data shows that the average consumer for these products is still evolving. The lines between cannabinoid users are blurring - for example, in 2023 surveys, 72% of CBD consumers reported recently using a cannabis product. This consumer overlap challenges the view that these groups are distinct, and instead implies that purchasers source their cannabinoids from all different places. Celebrants of 4/20 this year might buy products from regulated dispensaries, order novel hemp-cannabinoids online, or find CBD edibles at their local health food stores.

Why Gummies?

Though traditionally associated more with smoking, this 4/20 more and more consumers are not preferring to ingest their cannabis, with gummies being the dominant format of choice. Gummies have become a standout product not just for their variety or ease of use, but because they represent a shift towards more discreet and controlled ways to consume cannabis. However, not all cannabinoid gummy consumers are the same. Let’s explore these markets and their unique demographic trajectories.

Cannabis Gummies

Gummies usage has continued to grow in recent years. In Q4 2023, 53% of surveyed cannabis consumers reported purchasing gummies within the past six months – up from 44% in early 2020. In 2023, cannabis gummy sales were estimated to be worth $2.6 billion annually, representing around 8% of all US cannabis sales.

Compared to the average respondent in our Wellness and Cannabis Consumer studies, cannabis gummy consumers tend to be younger, with Millennials making up the majority (52%) of category purchasers. Cannabis gummy users also skew female, with 57% of purchasers in 2023 being women – 6% more than the wider cannabis-using population, although the gender gap has been narrowing in recent quarters. Among consumers who bought gummies, the most common reasons for using cannabis products were relaxation, sleep improvement, and physical relief.

Source Brightfield Group Cannabis Consumer 2023

A The Hemp-Derived THC Wave

Hemp-derived THC is emerging as a significant player in the cannabis market. Legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp products with less than 0.3% THC content are creating a new frontier for the industry. As states navigate these waters, the popularity of low-dose, hemp-derived THC beverages and edibles is climbing, particularly in regions where traditional cannabis products face stricter regulations.

Hemp THC Gummies

Gummies are also extremely popular among hemp-derived THC consumers, with 52% of respondents in Brightfield Group’s Quarterly Wellness Consumer survey reporting recent purchases. In 2023, Brightfield Group valued the total hemp THC market, encompassing sales of all psychoactive cannabinoids like Delta-8, THCA, and HHC, at $850 million annually, roughly 31% of the wider market.

Hemp-derived THC consumers, including hemp THC gummy users, tend to be skew male compared to the general population. Across our 2023 Wellness surveys, which included over 21,000 total respondents, 49% were men – well below the 61% of male hemp THC consumers. Although this gender gap decreases with gummy usage, with 56% being male, the continued prevalence of male purchasers distinguishes hemp THC gummies from other analyzed cannabinoid categories. Over 55% of hemp THC gummy consumers are Millennials or Gen Z, although Gen X represents a significant 28% of purchasers. Those who purchased psychoactive hemp gummies cited ease of availability and better taste/flavors as primary reasons for using hemp-based THC products.

Hemp Derived THC Consumers

CBD and Beyond: Adapting to Market Saturation

As the CBD market matures, consumer enthusiasm remains high, but the industry is evolving from explosive growth to a focus on market stabilization and product innovation. Companies are now leveraging CBD's established market presence to introduce blended products that incorporate minor cannabinoids, potentially offering enhanced effects and attracting a broader consumer base.

CBD Gummies

Among all cannabinoids, none is as dominated by gummies as hemp CBD. The category reached peak popularity in Q4 2023, with 61% of survey respondent reporting recently using gummies, a significantly higher proportion than seen in cannabis or hemp-derived THC. Three years prior, in Q4 2020, the incidence rate for gummy usage was only 38%. In 2023, the annual value of the hemp CBD gummy market was $731 million, 17% of the larger industry.

Although CBD gummy consumers share similarities with cannabis and hemp THC purchasers, the data nuances reveal some key distinctions. While a plurality of CBD gummy consumers are Millennials, CBD gummy purchasers are less likely to be Gen Z or Millennial than is the average CBD user. While still under-indexing compared to the overall population, Baby Boomers represent 23% of CBD gummy purchasers – well above other cannabinoid markets. In line with the others, the CBD product purchasers lean slightly female, and this trend is even more pronounced among CBD gummy consumers. Respondents who bought CBD gummies primarily use CBD to improve sleep and relaxation, and they prioritize the product's price and efficacy when making purchasing decisions.CBDProduct

The Face of Gummies

Although the market landscapes and dynamics vary across each cannabinoid sector, the consumers of cannabinoid gummies exhibit similar demographic trends. For example, they all show a higher likelihood of over-indexing among female consumers compared to the overall category. Additionally, popularity across all formats tends to skew younger than the general population, with a majority to a plurality of category users being Millennials in all cases. Knowing who to target can help to align investment with the areas of most opportunity.

Data Drives Sales

For gummies, achieving broad appeal involves packaging and flavor profiles that resonate with Millennials, especially for cannabis products, and should prioritize designs tailored to women more than if creating goods in other categories. Consumer insights data can inform strategic decision-making and identify areas for investment that align with evolving consumer preferences and demographics, insights that could prove especially valuable when making your stamp on newer markets or breaking into states with more established sales.Your paragraph text (1)

Cannabis consumers are holistic individuals with diverse interested. Increasingly, we are seeing consumers intersect with need states like wellness and personal care, highlighting potential branding niches. Sustainability is also becoming a priority for many. The industry is adopting practices that reduce environmental impact, such as using organic cultivation methods and embracing technological advancements to create better products with less waste.

Looking Ahead

This 4/20, the cannabinoid industries stand at a crossroads. This day doesn’t have to just about celebrating cannabis, but understanding its evolving role in society and its potential for future growth. It's a chance for everyone involved—from growers to retailers, to thinkers and policymakers—to assess how far cannabis has come and where it's heading. It's an opportunity for stakeholders to rethink product innovation and market strategies as they prepare to meet the growing and changing needs of a diverse consumer base.

Cannabis, CBD, hemp-derived cannabinoids - we’re moving beyond the stereotypes and seeing cannabis as part of a broader conversation about health, wellness, and responsible consumption. As we mark another 4/20, let’s think about how we can continue to evolve and respond to the needs of a diverse and growing user base.

Book a Demo

Updated: 4/20/2024