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Cannabinoids: The Next Frontier for Cosmeceuticals?

18 Jun 2021

The market for CBD is growing and it is not just the pharmaceutical industry that is exploring its potential. Martin Oxley, MD at buzzback UK explains how consumer interest in plant-based ingredients and natural products present huge opportunities for CBD in the cosmeceuticals space – particularly skin-care products – and how the industry can tackle reticence in some quarters with solid messaging

Cannabinoids (CBD, CBG, CBC and many more) are now attracting considerable attention for their cosmetic and medical possibilities - in the UK alone the CBD market is worth £690 million each year. From soaps and gummies to body lotions and supplements, CBD is used in a wide array of products, and offers multiple therapeutic benefits – from reducing inflammation, to helping with anxiety and relieving chronic pain.  

At innovation insights agency, buzzback, we wanted to find out more about this burgeoning new trend, so we spoke to 800 people in the UK and US to understand their perception of CBD. What we found is that although only one third of consumers have a good understanding of the benefits of this ingredient, more than half are willing to try products with CBD and in the UK, 15% of people have already purchased CBD infused products.

Consumer interest has only increased with the demands of the pandemic, where many are suffering from increased stress and anxiety and are prioritising self-care. Our ongoing research shows that stress, insomnia, and an increase in unhealthy habits are leading to skin complaints and given its reputation for an anti-inflammatory and calming effect, consumers are particularly interested in purchasing CBD products.

Our research finds that over 60% of people would purchase skincare products, soaps and lip balms, while 50% would also consider hair products containing CBD. And with skincare being one of the most popular categories for CBD, this presents an opportunity for cosmeceutical brands, who stand to benefit from integrating this sought-after ingredient into their products.

Conscious beauty

Our evidence shows that using plant-based ingredients in general is a key driver of interest. Consumers are now scrutinising labels, discussing brands in online forums, and want to know that their products come with a certain level of transparency – particularly with regards to environmental sustainability and animal welfare.

In the UK, 24% of people want their skincare products to be cruelty-free and 18% are interested in botanical ingredients. There are also “no-go” ingredients with 27% actively avoiding silicones, 23% sulphates and 17% acids.

When talking about skincare and cosmetics, health benefits aren’t the only element people are considering. CBD users find that “if products had more spa-quality appeal, [they] might be more like a luxury beauty product rather than herbal medicine.” It’s important to note therefore that the packaging aesthetic, scent, formulation and a luxury feel, are improvements that consumers suggested for CBD cosmeceutical items.

Cultivating trust

Although demand for CBD products is growing, there is still reticence from some consumers, with 25% of people stating that they would not be open to trying anything containing this ingredient. Worries vary from efficacy, side effects, and (often misplaced) concerns around addiction and a lack of testing. For cosmeceutical brands that are considering a move into the CBD market, addressing these concerns is key.

Experience with this ingredient tends to be by word-of-mouth due to a lack of credible information, data and proven claims. So brands should provide trusted information around the benefits of this substance, as well as clarity around potential side effects to help consumers feel more at ease using CBD products.

As such, there is an increasing demand for research, evidence on benefits, and information on correct use. Many consumers use social media as a channel for researching products and benefits and uncovering new brands. Raising your profile on social media with educational content can be a great strategy for building trust with your target market.

Going mainstream

In summary, CBD is ready to land in the mainstream cosmeceutical market – with skincare being particularly popular.

For brands that are just starting to introduce CBD products, providing concise information and a social media presence is key. Consumers need to be assured of the safety, quality and purity of ingredients as well as understanding benefits and effects.

Although the focus on quality and information should remain high, brands shouldn’t forget to invest in aesthetically pleasing packaging, transparent labelling and clear policies on sustainability to engage consumers.

Martin Oxley, MD, buzzback UK

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