With so much CBD coverage in the news, retailers and consumers alike are asking how this product can assist their health and wellness. To understand this, you must first understand from where CBD is derived. Cannabis is a plant of the Cannabaceae family and contains more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds.
The two most commonly known compounds are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Commonly mistaken for one another, THC and CBD have different effects when used. The two compounds act in different ways and on different receptors in the brain and body. Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating, which means that you will not experience a high.
With the introduction of new USDA regulations and standards for growing and extracting in the U.S., CBD has become more widely accepted. CBD products offer various methods of use that allow for a seamless addition to consumer’s daily wellness routine.
In fact, according to a High Yields Insights report, a niche, but growing segment of CBD users now report using CBD as part of their post-exercise routine. The report found that 12% of current CBD consumers use CBD specifically for exercise recovery.
The health and wellness industry continues to boom in the U.S. CBD industry revenue is currently valued at some $35 billion and enjoying growth of more than 8%, the report said. However, the products that support the health and wellness industry are also highly valuable with sports drinks now valued at more than $8 billion and topical pain relievers at $2.6 billion. As such, the CBD industry is eyeing the opportunity to cash in on continued demand for consumer goods that help improve athletic performance and assist post-workout recovery.
Other research shows that wellness users of CBD are more likely to be multicultural women over the age of 40. Some 53% buy CBD online compared to 47% of overall CBD customers. And 45% use CBD daily or multiple times per day, while 55% use CBD at least five times per week, according to Brightfield Group, a consumer insights and marketing intelligence firm for the CBD and cannabis industries.
At present, the exercise recovery segment of the CBD market is dominated by indie brands, but High Yield data shows that the CBD consumer who uses CBD for exercise recovery is excited by the investment of big food and drink brands in CBD and will welcome the presence of these brands which they believe will also help to improve product standards (see chart.)
“Those who use CBD for exercise recovery are highly invested in what they put into their bodies, reading ingredients labelling and buying into foods with enhanced ingredients. This all contributes to the fact that they are more likely to know what brand they want to buy prior to purchase,” said Alexandra Curley, a senior consultant for High Yields Insights. “This is a group that will not be ‘green-washed’ or taken in by spurious marketing claims and are significantly more likely to call out a claim by contacting a brand with questions prior to purchase.”
Celebrity Endorsement Frenzy
UFC 257 winner Dustin Poirier is the latest in a long line of athletes who have trussed their name to CBD. Operating under the name of REAP, Poirier’s company offers oils and recovery gels aimed at the emerging sports recovery niche within CBD. Already popular within the NFL, MMA is rapidly adopting CBD as part of its training and recovery culture, not only to enhance athletic ability but as a recognized remedy to the trauma associated with head injuries, muscle recovery, and the sleep disorders and anxiety that go hand-in-hand with participating in full-contact sport, according to High Yield Insights. So prevalent is the use of CBD within the sport, that in January 2021 the UFC made additional changes to its anti-doping policies to accommodate the use of cannabinoids by competitors. Similar action has also been taken by the NFL and follows moves made by The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 2018 to allow CBD.
This has massive implications for the rapidly expanding CBD market. There are 451 million people participating in and following MMA, making it the third-most-popular sport in the world, and certainly one of the fastest-growing, according to Nielsen Sports DNA.
Data from High Yield’s U.S. survey of 35,322 adults aged 21 and over finds that CBD is now incorporated into the exercise routines of over one in ten CBD users, with users closely matching the demographic profile of the typical MMA fan – predominantly male and young.
Largely viewed as housing the elite in fighting and athletic prowess, the training techniques and tips of MMA fighters are widely shared and adopted around the world, and CBD as a sports recovery aid is fast benefiting from this association. High Yield found that in the CBD exercise space, more is expected of brands not just in terms of post-purchase consumer care, but also in terms of pre-purchase accountability and accessibility.
High Yield data revealed that there is a degree of overlap with the use of CBD for pain relief and that of sports performance, so specialist CBD exercise brands will also find themselves in competition with general pain relief products within the CBD space as well.
“With multinationals circling the market, it begs the question of whether their eventual presence will eat into the early gains made by celebrity athlete start-ups,” the report concluded. “Time will tell. However, what we can be certain of is that the niche usage of CBD will continue to permeate popular subcultures and this will make the role of branding of crucial importance going forward.”