Consumers report confidence in CBD quality, but a third discontinue use


A study to understand CBD users’ attitudes to (and use of) CBD products shows that consumers are generally confident about the quality of products, but also finds that around a third of users discontinue use.

The research was commissioned by the Food Standards Agency and conducted in September 2019. The results, published to coincide with recent FSA guidance to suppliers and consumers on CBD, show that:

Usage and frequency
Of those who have used CBD, around a third told researchers they no longer use it. Around a quarter said they are regular users while the remaining four in ten use it on an occasional basis. Nearly all current users said they were likely to continue to use it. Over three quarters of those currently using CBD reported have done so for less than a year.

Format and product type
Tinctures are the most common format for taking CBD, followed by e-liquids, pills/capsules, and creams/ointments. Just under a third of respondents said they bought their CBD from health food stores, and just under a quarter from online CBD specialist retailers or online marketplaces.

Purchasing decision drivers
The key driver for deciding which type of CBD product to buy is the quality of the product, but the cost, trust in the retailer, level of CBD in the product and trust in the brand itself were all considered important factors in decision making for at least a third of respondents.

Main conditions treated
Respondents reported that the main reason they use CBD is for pain relief. They also reported that CBD helped relieve anxiety, aided relaxation and sleep, supported mental health and relieved depression.

Consumer satisfaction
Around two thirds of respondents said that they felt CBD has benefitted their overall health and/or helped them with a medical condition. The conditions that people are most likely to say it has helped them with are anxiety/stress relief, arthritis and back pain.

Over a third of CBD users said that they were reliant on it, or that they would be bothered if they could no longer buy it.

Perceptions of quality, legality
Most respondents were confident that the CBD products they were buying were high quality and contained what they said they did. Although the majority assumed that CBD was regulated, a sizeable minority did express concern about the legal status of the CBD they bought. By and large, respondents were confident about the legality and quality of the products they bought. This confidence appeared to stem from purchasing from what they saw as reputable retailers.

Novel food status
The researchers said they found very little awareness of CBD’s status as a ‘novel food’. When learning about this, some participants expressed concern, but others were less perturbed. Similarly, researchers found a mixed response to the idea of CBD no longer being readily available from mainstream retailers. Some respondents reported that knowing that it was not legal to sell or market CBD would be enough for them to stop using it, whilst others suggested they would simply source it elsewhere.