While Covid-19 continues to devastate the global economy, there are some businesses for which the pandemic has created opportunities rather than problems. One good example is the UK’s nascent market for cannabidiol (CBD) products, where entrepreneurs and small businesses report soaring demand since the crisis began.
Research published today by Alphagreen.io, the UK’s largest marketplace for certified CBD products, suggests that more than 8 million Britons are now buying CBD products, with spending exceeding £150m in the first four months of 2020 alone. That puts the market on target to achieve revenues of £450m over the year as a whole, which would represent 50% growth compared to 2019.
Alphagreen.io CEO Alexej Pikovsky explains that the marketplace commissioned the research after noticing a sharp spike in demand for CBD products in the UK from the beginning of March onwards, as the Covid-19 crisis began to bite. He said: “The key here is that with people feeling anxious, having trouble sleeping and, in some cases, feeling let down by the traditional health system, they have looked for alternatives.”
Alphagreen.io’s study, based on a survey of 5,000 adults, found that 8.4 million Britons had either bought CBD products this year or intended to do so. Some 42% of purchasers are focused primarily on relieving or managing pain, with 21% seeking to tackle their insomnia, and 19% hoping to address anxiety. The study also showed that 38% of purchasers were taking CBD products alongside conventional medicines.
Dr Dani Gordon, a specialist in medicinal cannabis and CBD products, said the research suggested the uptick in demand was part of a broader trend. “People are increasingly turning to more natural health and wellness solutions to add to their self-care routines,” she said. “Patients are looking towards natural remedies to mitigate and soothe symptoms of common conditions such as anxiety, as well as other mental and physical health concerns.”
One interesting question is whether the increased interest in CBD products in the UK will endure beyond the current crisis. Certainly, much of the demand in the marketplace is relatively recent – Alphagreen.io’s research suggests 53% of purchasers made their first purchase in the last 12 months.
Pikovsky believes the increased demand will be sustained, as Britons become better informed about CBD products and the market matures. He launched Alphagreen.io last year to provide a single portal for purchasers in what is a highly-fragmented marketplace where consumers aren’t always sure which brands to trust. The marketplace requires providers to supply certified data on their products in order to maintain their listings.
Online sales are an important part of the story. In the marketplace’s survey, 38% said they bought their CBD products online, compared to 14% who purchased from health shops and 13% who sourced products from pharmacies.
However, it will take time for more people to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the marketplace, with the research showing that older consumers are much more sceptical about the reliability of CBD products. There is also confusion about the differences between CBD products, which are typically available over-the-counter, and medicinal cannabis, which requires a prescription.
Nevertheless, one effect of the Covid-19 crisis does appear to be a surge in demand in the UK’s CBD market, helped by the fact that many people have more time to research what is available. Demand for other health products, including vitamin supplements, also appears to be increasing rapidly.