The wave of legalization of cannabis across the US, especially when it comes to recreational one, has lead to a launch of numerous cannabis-infused products. Nevertheless, the first thing that comes to mind concerning cannabis is smoking it, eating it, and eventually vaping it. The idea of drinking it wasn’t on the radar until recently, but things are changing fast.
CBD-infused drinks are actually the next logical step. The global alcohol and soft-drink consumption are obviously slowing down due to cannabis legalization, so many companies see cannabis beverages as a new growth vector. When you look at the fact that Coca-Cola is also interested in cannabis-infused drinks there’s no doubt that they’re cemented as the hottest trend in today’s drink and food industry. So let’s take a look at what comes with this new trend.
Chasing The Millions
Predictions when it comes to cannabis-infused drinks are looking quite good - those containing THC would be worth $340 million by 2022, while those containing CBD could reach $260 million. This means that these drinks could become a $600 million market in the US in just a couple of years and easily outpace the growth of other categories of retail marijuana products. Coca-Cola is not the only company aware of this - other soda and beer producers are equally thirsty for these new opportunities. The largest beer import company (measured by sales), Corona-parent Constellation Brands, has become the largest stakeholder in Canadian pot cultivator Canopy Growth while Heineken didn't hesitate to introduce a range of cannabis sparkling water. While it may seem that THC has the lead in this ʽrace for millionsʼ, CBD is actually a bigger game-changer as we’re about to see on Coca-Cola example.
Health is a Trend
Since Coca-Cola is not only the world’s largest beverage company but also one of the most iconic consumer brands, it’s normal that this company has created the real media buzz when it comes to cannabis-infused drinks. Their talks with Aurora - a leading Canadian cannabis marketing and distribution company - are oriented towards developing beverages which are infused with CBD. The reason is quite obvious - their plan is to capitalize on health benefits of CBD, coming up with a drink that will ease symptoms such as cramping, pain, or inflammation. There are conditions that are better treated with THC, but CBD covers a much wider range, from anxiety to epilepsy.
Marketing campaigns such as holiday polar bear ads and their iconic labeling are not enough anymore to lure customers interest. Coca-Cola would acquire an edgier appearance by tying itself to cannabis, and there is a reason why they’re aiming at CBD. This company has not been keeping up with trends in beverages in the past, which now caught them flat-footed. They’ve missed the functional waters like Vitamin Water and coffee, and they’ve missed the energy drink phenomenon. They desperately need to catch on the latest trend, and cannabis is the biggest one there is at this point. And CBD is even bigger since health has become one of the most important trends of this modern age.
However, precisely due to the fact that health is a new trend, people are incredibly picky about it. There are those who are saying that adding CBD into the ʽpoisonʼ that causes cancer and diabetes is a huge oxymoron and therefore nothing more than a money grab. There are many companies who may find themselves in a similar situation, but that doesn’t mean that only health and wellness companies will be able to capitalize on CBD-infused drinks. All it means is that it will require a careful approach and marketing.
Exploring The Market
From the reason mentioned above, as well as the fact that cannabis is not yet legal across all US states, large companies are still cautious. This is what provides the perfect opportunity for smaller firms to explore the market. And there is a lot to explore, such as the comparison with alcohol which emphasizes that cannabis drinks don’t have a high-calorie count of beer or wine and don’t give hangovers. With the millennial market looking for low-calorie alternatives, this is certainly a lead to follow. The whole cannabis industry is still in its infancy and there are still not many partners to dance with, especially when it comes to beverages. Since cannabis market has seen a nearly 600% investment growth already in 2018, there’ no doubt that this new trend is a promising opportunity.
CBD-infused drinks are a trend that is certainly here to stay. Consumer behavior is changing causing the decline in sales of many beverage companies, and cannabis is the best bet to boost their brands again. At this point, specialized companies have the advantage but looking at the rapid legalization across the US there’s no doubt that bigger players will soon jump in.