The rise of CBD consumption in the UK

Feb 6, 2020

United Kingdom Flag flying

CBD is something I have been talking about for a while now, and it’s a market I’m excited to be a part of with the launch of my new bespoke CBD cocktails. And, it seems it’s not just me that has an increasing interest in this so-called super product, as Cannabidiol continues to become more popular in the UK.

As word-of-mouth continues to promote CBD (seeing as it’s heavily regulated in digital advertising), it’s only natural that more people will have their interested piqued and give it a try.

How many people are interested in CBD in the UK?

When we look at the Google search volume for ‘CBD’ in the United Kingdom, we can see how much the interest has boomed in recent years. With only menial search volume before, you can see that the product really started to hit its stride in 2018 and has been incredibly popular over the past two years. And, despite seeing a small downturn in search volume at the end of 2019, it appears to be on the rise again.

CBD Google searches in the UK

Data taken from Google Trends

‘Search data doesn’t show that more people are consuming CBD’ I hear you say, and yes, you’re right, but it does show that more people are interested in it, and that’s the first step. In a modern age before reaching for their cash, customers are reaching for their phones to Google the product before buying. Just as modern dating seems to now involve more ‘social-stalking’ than actually getting to know each other, buying a product has so many more stages. Where people used to just take word-of-mouth reviews and initial impressions at face value, now they can check tweets, Amazon reviews, Insta pics, Facebook groups and more, and they do!

So, by tracking Google search data, we can see that more people are taking that first step in the 21st-century buying process and doing their research before committing to a product. That is why it is so important that there is unbiased, comprehensive information about CBD products online.

How many people in the UK take CBD?

Woman using CBD oil

It’s not just the interest in CBD that is rising, but the consumption of it as well. Released in June 2019, the largest CBD report conducted in the UK in history, CBD In The UK by the Centre for Medical Cannabis, revealed that “between 8- 11% of UK adults respectively - approximately 4-6 million people - have tried CBD.”

As well as remarking on the large portion of people who have now tried CBD, the report explains that “the CBD consumer base is broad - and there is familiarity and recent use among a sizeable proportion of all age groups and social classes.” For a product that has had so much stigma around it due to its links to cannabis, it’s incredibly reassuring to see that there is a large market for CBD that spans a large range of consumers.

As more people take CBD, we’ve seen many high street stores starting to stock CBD products. These rises will go hand-in-hand, as the more available CBD is, the higher the chances of people taking the next step in the buying process to purchasing it is. And, as more people buy CBD products, more stores will see the appeal of stocking it with Boots and Ocado recently stocking the product too.

The future of CBD in the UK

This all means that however much CBD has risen in popularity in recent years, we are likely to see it continue to grow and become even more popular in the future. With new information being added online every day, people are able to educate themselves much easier than before. And, with new products being added to the market frequently, there is so much more on offer for consumers which offer a pleasant experience in comparison to pills and tinctures which feel overly medicinal.  

And, as the market continues to grow, products will become more innovative and fulfil that other key customer request – customisation. For example, my up-and-coming CBD drinks range will allow you to control the amount of CBD in your drink, allowing you to genuinely enjoy the flavour and experience.

As well as the organic growth that CBD is likely to continue to benefit from, there are also some key events that would cause it to boom even faster.

Improved regulations

The main hindrance to CBDs marketplace domination currently is the regulations surrounding it. Consumers in the UK will not settle for products they cannot trust, products that are inconsistent in quality and products that can even run the risk of being illegal. However, the current regulations (or lack thereof) that are imposed mean that it is easy for anyone to take advantage of the market.

If we were to see strict regulations brought into the UK CBD market, it would surely see both a decline in the number of products on the market, but an increase in the quality of those products. This is something that can only be seen as a positive by our consumers.

Amendment of advertising regulations

Something that is holding CBD back from accessing a wider audience is the current advertising regulations surrounding it. Due to its current categorisation, word-of-mouth and organic promotion are the only real ways for brands to get the message out there. If and when such regulations are updated in the near future, we will see CBD start to be advertised to a wider audience and potentially increase its appeal.

I believe we are still on the cusp of seeing the full potential of the CBD market in the UK, and every day I’m seeing more and more products enter this once sparse market. I’m optimistic about the future of this product, and its impact on the culture of the UK. As consumers have migrated towards a more health-focused culture, CBD manages to slot right into their lives and in the coming years, I expect to see it cement its placement there.

About the author:

Kamila is a bestselling author of  “Bespoke. How to radically grow your bar and restaurant business through personalisation”, and passionate trend-spotter for the UK Eating Out market with thousands of followers on her widely popular blog www.Bespoke.World.

With a decade of hands-on experience collaborating with hospitality influencers and insight experts and background in setting strategies for leading brands, Kamila has become the industry champion for truly bespoke and guest-centric experiences.

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