How are Celebrities Influencing the CBD Market?

Jamie Schau

Despite celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and Snoop Dogg touting marijuana for years, CBD has attracted little mainstream attention.

Those familiar with the cannabis extract have usually seen or heard the Charlotte Figi story covered by CNN, followed by the rush of families that moved to Colorado to access medical marijuana (primarily CBD) to treat their children’s severe seizure disorders. Since that story first ran, the industry has rebranded CBD’s image from a niche medical marijuana product to a health and wellness supplement for the average consumer.

And star-studded celebrities are catching on.  

From Nate Diaz smoking CBD in his post-fight press conferences, to Gwyneth Paltrow promoting CBD-infused cocktails on her high-traffic wellness site Goop, celebrities are talking about this new health trend. A-listers like Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Wilde, Kristen Bell, Drew Barrymore, and Kate Hudson – all championing the magic of CBD to relieve anxiety and pain from everyday workouts, or even extended use of high heels. Even Martha Stewart is getting in on the action. As the conversation grows, celebrities are generating buzz about their favorite brands, informing consumers about what’s trending, and chipping away at the CBD stigma.  

This year’s increase in outspoken stars put CBD in front of millions of Americans. By bringing awareness to what it is and how it can be used, the industry has seen an increase in popularity, both as a trendy functional/wellness product and the alternative solution to more severe medical conditions.

Back when the cannabinoid kept a low profile, tinctures dominated the market as the primary delivery system. In the past few years however, product innovation has driven growth in other areas: consumers are now enjoying CBD edibles, drinks, and beauty products. Much of the new celebrity attention on CBD is focused on its potential for sports medicine and beauty products. In fact, beauty & skincare revenues grew nearly 340% in the past year, from just under $4 million in 2017 to over $17 million in 2018. Tinctures remain the biggest seller at 35 percent (down from 46 percent in 2017), but these innovative products are eating into their market share.

Natural food stores, quick to shelve the latest wellness products, saw a 9 percent bump in sales, hitting 29 percent. According to Brightfield Group data, consumers in the Midwest and Northeast use CBD products at least two to four times per week, with a quarter using it daily. On the contrary, the west regions see more infrequent, causal use, with 21 percent using the product a few times per year, and 50 percent using it once per week or less.

Also, among users in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast, CBD-infused drinks have gained more traction than in the west region. With the total market size nearly doubling in the meantime, the significant growth has distributors increasing their output.

What does all of this mean?

Needless to say the support of celebrities with extensive reach and large fan bases with an eye for trends bodes well. In an industry developed largely on word-of-mouth marketing, celebrities and their press coverage have been indispensable to advertising teams, and with the recent legalization of hemp and its derivatives, we expect to see much more celebrity endorsements and athlete sponsorships by CBD companies. With every personality who uses their resources to promote the many benefits of CBD use, the number of consumers interested in and accepting of this new solution will grow.