Study: During coronavirus pandemic, American consumers turn to CBD for stress relief, wellness

In a year of a deadly pandemic and a historic presidential election, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that anxiety levels are sky high among American consumers.

But the silver lining for the hemp and CBD industry is that at least 20% of consumers are using more CBD products as a direct result of COVID, according to a June study by Chicago-based Aclara Research, a firm that analyzes cannabis and CBD consumers and works in collaboration with Nielsen Global Connect. The study results were highlighted in a Hemp Industry Daily report produced in collaboration with Nielsen, “How to Navigate the Complicated World of CBD in Retail.”

The study highlights how current and new consumers will develop a proactive health-care regimen to manage their mental health, including how these behaviors may continue post-pandemic.

CBD coronavirus, Study: During coronavirus pandemic, American consumers turn to CBD for stress relief, wellness

Among a panel of nearly 3,000 consumers across states where cannabis is legal, Aclara Research found that approximately 1 in 5 consumers indicated they are buying more CBD products during the pandemic. More than half the participants (55%) said they hadn’t changed how much cannabis or CBD they’ve purchased.

Consumers involved in the panel are knowledgeable about cannabis, with more than 80% saying they consider themselves immediate or advanced product users, and 8 in 10 use both marijuana and CBD products. Additionally, 60% of marijuana users are also buying hemp-derived CBD products.

The consumers on the panel spend about $900 per year on CBD products, with the largest annual spending on beauty care, beverages or flower, according to Aclara Research.

The panelists said that they use CBD products regularly, and 88% use them a few times per week or more, according to Carmen Brace, founder and principal of Aclara Research.

Those surveyed said the top reasons for using CBD products were:

  • Pain relief (58%).
  • Anxiety (58%).
  • Relaxation (48%).
  • Sleep (37%).
  • General Wellness (30%).

CBD is staying on trend

As the pandemic continues, the leading reasons for marijuana and hemp-derived CBD use become more relevant as consumers seek ways to manage increasing stress and anxiety, Brace said.

Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicated that more than 53% of adults said their mental health and well-being has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. More than one-third of adults have reported symptoms of anxiety, versus 1 in 10 adults from January 2019 to June 2019.

Further, Missouri-based pharmacy benefit service Express Scripts reported that prescriptions for anxiety medications have increased by 34% since the pandemic, Brace said.

In the June 2020 CBD consumer panel, Aclara Research found that:

  • 68% of respondents agreed with the statement: “I am feeling more stress during the pandemic than I did before.”
  • 42% of respondents agreed with the statement: “I am buying more immunity boosting foods and supplements to improve my health.”

“For retailers, consumer focus on integrated wellness solutions may increase retail space—and focus—on hemp-derived CBD products,” Brace said. “These products are on trend with consumer needs, play a strong role of profit generation and increase basket size.”

Download the report here for more insights on trends and demographics for consumers using CBD products, regional CBD product preferences, the current size of the CBD retail market along with future projections and more.

Laura Drotleff can be reached at