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HIGHLIGHTS
  1. U.S. sales of 1:1 (CBD:THC) edibles made up 65 per cent of cannabis candy and gum sales in November
  2. CBD-dominant gummy sales soar in California
  3. CBD consumers shop primarily from 10 am to 2 pm -Headset data

What cannabis products reach peak sales in the morning, appeal primarily to women and adults older than 54 years, and account for the biggest portion of legal U.S. edible sales?

Those with high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and one-to-one ratios of CBD to THC, according to Headset Inc. point-of-sale data compiled in some of the most mature legal cannabis markets in the United States.

“I don’t know what CBD does to your body but I can tell you, if you put it in your product, it will do well,” said Liz Connors, director of analytics for Headset, speaking at MJBizCon in Las Vegas this month.

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Though there is the need for clinical trials to prove the many health benefits that are associated with CBD, a non-intoxicating compound extracted from cannabis, sales in states such as California and Colorado show strong demand for products containing this cannabinoid. As newly legalized cannabis products such as edibles and vaporizers begin to reach licensed store shelves in Canada, producers and retailers here look to U.S. data for consumer trends.

And it is the edible category that makes up the biggest portion of CBD sales in mature U.S. markets, while CBD-dominant tinctures and topicals have also proven popular, Ms. Connors said.

The so-called 1:1 ratio – a product containing equal parts CBD and THC – holds a “major presence” in the market and gummies offer the widest array of choices, she said.

In the states of California, Colorado, Washington and Nevada, November sales of 1:1 edibles accounted for 65 per cent of candy and gum sales, 72 per cent of chocolate, 52 per cent of mint, and 37 per cent of gummy sales.

These preferences, however, are region specific. Gummies containing equal parts CBD and THC accounted for 74 per cent of that category’s sales in Nevada, 68 per cent in Washington, 49 per cent in Colorado, but only 18 per cent in California. The most popular gummy ratio in California was CBD-dominant at a 19:1 ratio (CBD:THC), making up 38 per cent of the state’s November gummy sales.

But who is buying CBD-dominant products and, interestingly, when do they flock to stores for their purchases?

CBD-dominant and 1:1 products bring the potential to expand sales to relatively untapped demographics, such as women and people in the baby boomer and silent generations.

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“The CBD shopper tends to shop in the morning,” Ms. Connors said, adding data show the bulk of CBD sales are made between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

And whereas the biggest week for high-THC product sales is around April 20, the biggest week for CBD sales is before Christmas.

In Canada, a Hill+Knowlton Strategies study of 1,000 Canadians between Dec. 2-6, 2019, with a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, showed nine out of 10 consumers cite “medical and/or wellness” as driving all or part of their cannabis use. The biggest opportunity to attract new consumers is with non-intoxicating products, with 41 per cent of those who rarely consume cannabis indicating they are either very or somewhat likely to try non-intoxicating cannabis in the next year. This is nearly double the likelihood of trying intoxicating products, the study showed.

"Our data shows that the greatest opportunity to attract cannabis curious consumers into the market is through non-intoxicating cannabis products geared towards consumers in the health and wellness space," said Elliott Gauthier, author of the research and senior vice president of Hill+Knowlton’s Data + Analytics.

"Consumers who haven't already tried intoxicating products are unlikely to do so at this point."

Of the non-cannabis consumers surveyed, however, 37 per cent said they would walk away from a favourite food and beverage brand if it started producing cannabis infused products, showing that aversion exists around such packaged goods.

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While billennials – those aged 23 to 38 – made up 52 per cent of the legal market in the states tracked by Headset in November, Generation X (ages 39-54) accounted for 26 per cent of cannabis sales. Baby boomers made up 16 per cent and the silent generation just 1 per cent. Generation Z, which is those under 23-years-old, sit at 6 per cent.

“[Baby boomers] is a section where we see a whole lot of growth happening. We see a lot of tinctures with the boomers and silent generation,” Ms. Connors said, noting they seem to buy CBD products for ailments such as sleeping difficulties and back pain.

“Men and women shop really differently. Women purchase more non-inhalable products than men. We see women spending almost twice as much on CBD products than men.”

But giving shoppers too many products to choose from could work against retailers, Headset data show. U.S. stores tracked in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado and California manage a range of 1,500 to 5,000 stock keeping units.

“It’s difficult to decide what to buy when you’re a consumer,” Ms. Connors said, adding that many shoppers end up looking to price in order to differentiate products.

“As we’re thinking about adding products, we don’t want to give too much choice.”

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