Hemp is hot – and its soaring popularity impacts multiple retail markets. No longer associated with Cheech and Chong or excessive use of the word ‘dude,’ hemp-based products earned $170 million in sales last year, according to market research firm Brightfield Group.1Hemp Seeds Aren’t Just for Hipsters Anymore and Are Going Mainstream. Be Healthy. July 19, 2017.

The U.S. is the largest consumer market for hemp products worldwide, and the market for hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) is on track to reach an astonishing $1 billion by 2020, representing a 55% compound annual growth rate.2The Growth of the Hemp CBD Markets. Business Insider. May 2, 2017.3Borchardt, Debra. Hemp Cannabis Product Sales Projected To Hit $1 Billion In 3 Years. Forbes. August 23, 2017.

CBD made from hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient associated with marijuana. Often called hemp oil, hemp CBD is now sold in most states and online, making it more accessible than marijuana-derived CBD.4Borchardt, Debra. Hemp Cannabis Product Sales Projected To Hit $1 Billion In 3 Years. Forbes. August 23, 2017.

Hemp CBD market overview
Understandably, demand for hemp CBD products is strongest in states where marijuana is difficult to buy, mostly in the Midwest.5Borchardt, Debra. Hemp Cannabis Product Sales Projected To Hit $1 Billion In 3 Years. Forbes. August 23, 2017. In terms of distribution channels, Brightfield reports 65% of sales come through e-commerce websites, followed by smoke shops (18%) and dispensaries (9%), as well as health stores and doctor’s offices.

According to Forbes, the top five online brands are CW Hemp, PlusCBD Oil, HempMeds (RHSO), Elixinol and CannazALL.6Borchardt, Debra. Hemp Cannabis Product Sales Projected To Hit $1 Billion In 3 Years. Forbes. August 23, 2017. Among CBD Hemp makers, only three are publicly traded companies with sales of $100,000 or more: CV Sciences, Medical Marijuana, and Laguna Blends.7Borchardt, Debra. Hemp Cannabis Product Sales Projected To Hit $1 Billion In 3 Years. Forbes. August 23, 2017. This means small and medium players across the U.S. are fueling the market’s massive growth.

5 reasons hemp CBD is so hot
Want to know why hemp CBD has earned strong sales growth in the natural health and wellness sector? These five big reasons explain it:

  1. Versatility
    Hemp products are available in the form of balms, capsules, and drops across diverse product categories such as nutritional supplements, skin care products, beverages, foods, recreational and medicinal uses.8Consumer Demand and Wave of Innovation in CBD Cannabis Market Exploding. Business Insider. July 25, 2017.

    Hemp seeds can be pressed and made into hemp oil to make such items as cleaning products, body care products, building materials, health food, textiles, and plastics.9Hemp Seeds Aren’t Just for Hipsters Anymore and Are Going Mainstream. Be Healthy. July 19, 2017. Supermarkets have increased their offerings of plant-based milks, including hemp varieties.10Clark, Melissa. Vegan Ice Cream Enters a Golden Age. The New York Times. July 21, 2017.

  2. Therapeutic value
    Consumers increasingly turn to hemp CBD products help to solve common health care conditions. For instance, hemp CBD items are used to improve skin health, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote weight loss, digestion and joint pain relief, among other health conditions.11Hemp Seeds Aren’t Just for Hipsters Anymore and Are Going Mainstream. Be Healthy. July 19, 2017. Among the food and beverage categories, hemp seeds are considered the most nutritious seeds in the world, used for thousands of years as an edible source of fiber.12Hemp Seeds Aren’t Just for Hipsters Anymore and Are Going Mainstream. Be Healthy. July 19, 2017.
  3. Millennial demand
    Boston Consulting Group found 10% of Millennials are cause-driven, environmentally-minded consumers who love hemp-based, recycled, eco-friendly products.13Van Petten, Vanessa. he 6 Gen Y Spending Types: Which One Are You? LearnVest. July 10, 2012. This generation also greatly values health and wellness. Millennials particularly crave healthy, fresh, on-the-go foods that are convenient – including prepared hemp seed salads. As such, hemp is being marketed to Millennials as a nutrient-rich superfood, as it is high in omega 3 and antioxidants.14Rivero, Tanya Rivero. Wall Street Journal. The Hemp Craze Comes to Salads. July 10, 2015.
  4. Mainstream appeal
    Several retail giants sell hemp CBD products, adding to the booming industry. Hemp-based clothing and other textiles are readily accessible through companies like Patagonia and REI, plus smaller suppliers.15Pot’s parent plant produces all sorts of benefits. The Spokesman-Review. September 28, 2017. While Walmart.com did offer multiple lines of CBD products, these products are no longer available. Amazon is also a third-party provider of hemp products, such as hemp seed oil and hemp oil supplements. However, the company does not allow suppliers to sell CBD products on its e-commerce website.16Amazon Seller Forums.

    Although hemp products are legal, certain retailers distance themselves from these items to mitigate risk to their brand and avoid liability. For instance, although Target advertised four hemp supplement products on their website, the company promptly removed them following media attention.17Thompson, Chris. Target Pulls CBD Products After Offering Them Online. Freedom Leaf. September 29, 2017. While sales of cannabis-derived products could be allowed under certain state-based marijuana programs, selling such products across state lines is illegal. That said, Target sells other hemp-derived food and beauty products, including hemp-seed hearts and hemp-based milk, soaps and shampoos.18Wallace, Alicia. Update: CBD oil hits national stage with Target.com — briefly. The Cannabist. September 28, 2017.

  5. Legislative changes
    While hemp CBD is legal as long as it’s under 0.3% THC content, Americans also demonstrate changing attitudes toward the legalization of recreational marijuana in California and Nevada, which contributes to hemp CBD’s popularity. To date, 31 states have passed legislation that allows hemp farming in line with the 2014 Farm Bill.19The Growth of the Hemp CBD Markets. Business Insider. May 2, 2017. Currently, only 15 states allow CBD, in addition to the 28 states plus Washington DC, which have legalized medical marijuana, Forbes reports.20CBD and Hemp Sales Projected to Remain Strong. The New York Times. October 4, 2017.

Hemp CBD is emerging as a powerful retail trend, impacting grocery, pharmacy, apparel and health and beauty, among other categories. To gain a competitive advantage, retailers and suppliers can educate consumers by emphasizing the wide range of health, wellness and therapeutic applications hemp CBD products offer. Retail companies must also stay up-to-date with evolving political, competitive and consumer trends to stand out and sell in this thriving market.

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1, 9, 11, 12. Hemp Seeds Aren’t Just for Hipsters Anymore and Are Going Mainstream. Be Healthy. July 19, 2017.
2, 19. The Growth of the Hemp CBD Markets. Business Insider. May 2, 2017.
3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Borchardt, Debra. Hemp Cannabis Product Sales Projected To Hit $1 Billion In 3 Years. Forbes. August 23, 2017.
8. Consumer Demand and Wave of Innovation in CBD Cannabis Market Exploding. Business Insider. July 25, 2017.
10. Clark, Melissa. Vegan Ice Cream Enters a Golden Age. The New York Times. July 21, 2017.
13. Van Petten, Vanessa. he 6 Gen Y Spending Types: Which One Are You? LearnVest. July 10, 2012.
14. Rivero, Tanya Rivero. Wall Street Journal. The Hemp Craze Comes to Salads. July 10, 2015.
15. Pot’s parent plant produces all sorts of benefits. The Spokesman-Review. September 28, 2017.
16. Amazon Seller Forums.
17. Thompson, Chris. Target Pulls CBD Products After Offering Them Online. Freedom Leaf. September 29, 2017.
18. Wallace, Alicia. Update: CBD oil hits national stage with Target.com — briefly. The Cannabist. September 28, 2017.
20. CBD and Hemp Sales Projected to Remain Strong. The New York Times. October 4, 2017.
Lisa Goller

Lisa Goller is a marketing and communications professional with over 15 years of experience serving retail, consumer goods, B2B and technology companies. She helps businesses tell their story through irresistible content marketing and strategic communications.

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