Within hours of the Inauguration Day ceremonies, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) issued a press release calling for the Biden administration to help Americans struggling with mental health exacerbated or brought on by pandemic. In NAMI’s words, the pandemic has brought about a surge in “mental health, substance abuse, and suicide challenges”. Recently released findings from a national survey conducted by High Yield Insights corroborates that message. Our study polled 35,000+ US adults age 21 and up on current wellness regimens, use of nutritional supplements and enhanced food, perspectives on cannabis, and numerous data points on the adoption and use of product formats in the CBD category.
As the data demonstrates, responses can be cut by usual bases for comparison such as gender, but the data allows much deeper dives. (In part because the large sample size enables analysis and drill-downs not possible with studies of smaller scope.) Digging deeper uncovers data quantifying the ways in which people are responding to and seeking to manage the ever-present threat of Covid-19.
The pandemic has forced behavior changes impossible to miss such as shopping habits (see below) but the impact on our mental wellbeing goes mostly unseen. While wellness categories like CBD are experiencing a historic knock-on effect due to the pandemic, businesses must manage through times when the tide is coming in just as carefully as when the tide is going out. The growing popularity of CBD is evidenced by the number of people who started using one or more CBD products last year. For example, we discovered almost one in four U.S. CBD consumers started using CBD in the six months leading up to our survey. However, too much of a good thing – growth stemming from a silver lining we shouldn’t necessarily celebrate, this case – can be challenging.
The cannabis industry has solutions to offer given the myriad ways in which cannabinoids and terpenes can address a wide range of mental and physical health issues. The question becomes how to anticipate consumer preferences and align with consumer trends.
CBD brands, for example, would do well to factor in the “new normal” of the CBD consumer when making strategic decisions. (Although let’s hope that “temporary normal” proves to be a more accurate term.) Today’s reality differs substantially across demographics and lifestyles and analysis shouldn’t stop at top-level findings on CBD users in general. For companies active in only one or two product formats – gummies and capsules, for example – staying at a total user level will miss insights critical to differentiation in an increasingly crowded market. Similarly, pairing demographics with statements on the ripple effects of the pandemic can yield views of the gender and age divides at work among U.S. consumers.
For example, Women, Gen Z, and Millennials seem to be suffering the impacts of Covid-19 disproportionately to their peers. Regarding disparities due to gender:
- Almost seven in ten women have felt isolated from family friends compared to just roughly half of men
- Four in ten women also report feeling more depressed than usual compared to fewer than three in ten men
- Sleep issues have arisen at greater rates (32%) for women than for men (22%) as well
Similar disparities can be seen from a generational perspective. Gen Z and Millennials appear hardest hit by the economic fallout during the survey period. On average, about one in four Gen Z and Millennial respondents reported having lost a job or taken a reduction to hours or pay.
Pairing this data with what we now know about product trends can support innovation and marketing strategies. For example, the granularity in the data set can enable data cuts down to a format level (Gummies, for example) rather than stopping at a higher level by reading all consumers within a category (Supplements users, for instance) as sharing the same interests and characteristics.
The study went on to quantify changes to shopping habits due to Covid-19. For example, 53% of respondents from households with annual earnings of $150,000 or more annually indicate doing more shopping online. By contrast, only 33% of those from lower-income (under $35,00) households have shifted to more online shopping.