Exploring the CBD Drinks Market

Everyone has heard of CBD. It’s on the lips of college students, fifty-somethings, maybe even your parents, and it's (allegedly) making everyone feel much more relaxed.

The author(s)

  • Siobhan Rooney Associate Director, UK, SIA,
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Everyone has heard of CBD. It’s on the lips of college students, fifty-somethings, maybe even your parents, and it's (allegedly) making everyone feel much more relaxed.

An ingredient derived from the cannabis plant, CBD has been linked to numerous health benefits, including stress and anxiety relief, managing chronic pain, aiding sleep, and reducing migraines. It experienced an initial surge of interest in 2019 – primarily in connection with the oil extract – but more recently, this has broadened to encompass different formats.

The functional beverage space is seeing particular innovation, with companies like Molson Coors tentatively launching new ventures spotlighting the ingredient. In March, US brand Jones Soda unveiled a range of cannabis-infused sodas, launching first in California – where the extract can legally be consumed.

But how are consumers engaging with these products? We explored three years’ worth of social media conversations around CBD drinks to understand their perceptions.

CBD coffee is a consumer favorite

Looking at the different CBD-infused beverages available, coffee comes out on top by far – featuring in 13% of all conversation. Those enjoying a cup reported feeling energized and less anxious, while others voiced their intent to try some.

This number represents consumers talking about ground coffee or beans infused with CBD but excludes the much broader audience of people adding a drop of CBD oil to their morning coffee. In fact, we can see numerous calls for Starbucks to add CBD coffee to their menu.

 

CBD seltzer and soda are less visible on social media, reflecting the smaller number of these products on the market. However – in contrast to coffee and tea – both are seeing their social media footprint grow: seltzer conversation was up 40% between 2021 and 2022, and soda by a more modest 6%.

By comparison, mentions of CBD coffee fell by 35% in the same period. Time to swap that coffee for something more refreshing?

CBD as an alternative to alcohol

People in recovery from alcohol abuse were a key group driving CBD seltzer conversation. About 12% of seltzer mentions came from these consumers, many via Reddit’s r/stopdrinking community.

This group values CBD seltzers for their calming, stimulating effect, without the drawbacks associated with alcohol. For many, these products come into their own at social events by providing something more “special” than regular seltzers – and reducing the awkwardness that can occur when staying sober while surrounded by people drinking alcohol.

Happily, an increasing number of CBD seltzer products are hitting the market – aimed at the “sober-curious,” as well as those with deeper concerns about alcohol. Here, we can see the uptick in Instagram content around these drinks – reflecting growing influencer activity promoting new seltzers.

Time for tea

If you thought CBD tea sounds like an ideal component of a bedtime ritual, you’d be correct. Eight percent of social media discussion mentioned the beverage in connection with sleep remedies, often mixed with other soothing ingredients like chamomile.

However, a larger proportion (15%) referenced it in connection with detoxing and weight loss. Here, it is important to take a deeper look at the composition of the conversation: Instagram accounts for 53% of detox and weight loss-related mentions vs. 41% of sleep-related mentions. Similarly, Reddit and other forums – a good gauge of consumer interest – make up almost a quarter of sleep conversation, but only 6% of detox mentions.

This suggests that there is more consumer engagement around CBD tea’s utility as a sleep aid, but that it is rich territory for influencer partnerships promoting the detoxing capabilities of relevant products. Instagram, home to lots of inspirational fitness content, is a good place to spread this messaging.

Want to learn how you can use Synthesio’s AI-enabled consumer intelligence platform to track social buzz about CBD and other emerging trends? Request a demo with one of our experts here.

 

The author(s)

  • Siobhan Rooney Associate Director, UK, SIA,

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