From CBD gummies to CBD bath bombs, the market for CBD is growing stronger day by day. Investment bank Cowen & Co’s recent report predicted that the CBD market will hit $16 billion by 2025. With such immense growth, we couldn’t help but to use Synthesio’s social listening platform to take a closer look at what people are saying online about CBD. Today, we’re diving deep into the CBD market and using social media consumer insights to discover who the industry should be targeting.

What exactly is CBD?

Let’s start with the basics. CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol (ka-ne-buh-DI-ol). According to Dr. Peter Grinspoon from Harvard Health Publishing, cannabidiol is the “second-most prevalent” active ingredient of cannabis, or marijuana. The first is THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which produces the primary psychoactive effects associated with marijuana. But the CBD that’s found in CBD products is derived not from cannabis, but from the hemp plant. By itself, CBD does not cause a “high.”

In the medical community, cannabidiol has proven effectiveness in treating cases of childhood epilepsy. Last year, the FDA approved Epidiolex, a drug containing CBD, to treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

Outside of prescription medicine, CBD has grown to be one of today’s hottest ingredients, commonly used to address anxiety, insomnia, pain, and other conditions. For our research purposes, we divided CBD products into four major sectors: sublingual, inhalation, oral, and topical.

Sublingual: Use of CBD oils, which is often taken by placing a few drops under the tongue

Inhalation: CBD vape pens

Oral: Edible capsules, gummies, chocolate bars, etc. which contain CBD

Topical: Any product that’s meant to touch the skin or scalp, usually in the form of lotions, creams, shampoos, bath products

What insights does social media give us?

Let’s start by looking at the volume alone. After analyzing online conversations about CBD within the past year, our social listening platform found that the volume of conversations has been steadily increasing.


Then, we looked at which CBD products are talked-about most. To those already familiar with the industry, it may not be surprising that the sublingual sector of the CBD industry is the most popular. Around two-thirds of online conversations about CBD products were specifically about CBD oils!


Our numbers align with recent surveys evaluating CBD usage. Of all surveyed CBD users, 48% report using oils. The second-most-popular CBD products are vape pens, which 37% of users use, followed by ingestible products, like edibles and capsules.

Now that we know what people are talking about, let’s take a look at where people are talking. Unsurprisingly, Twitter’s in the first place, hosting around half of the conversations about CBD! Next, a shocking 25% of conversations took place on forums (a.k.a. Reddit). In third place was Instagram, where around 10% of discussions took place.


Why is it necessary to understand the what, where, and why of online conversations about CBD? A National Institutes of Health report stated that 38% of people found out about CBD from Internet research. That’s only 3% behind the 42% of people who heard about it from a family member or friend!

A significant portion of existing CBD users and (presumably) the industry’s target audience is getting information online. It’s word-of-mouth, through the Internet. Knowing where people read and engage is just step one of creating a targeted marketing campaign. 

Social Media Consumer Insights on Generational Differences

So who’s talking about CBD online? Turns out, maybe an age group you didn’t expect.


Unsurprisingly, adults aged 18-35 are the most vocal about CBD online. But here’s the outstanding part: some 45-55-year-olds are also using the Internet to talk about it.

We were curious about whether there are differences in how different age groups approach CBD. Recent research has found that adults aged 18-24 and 25-34 are more likely to associate CBD with treating anxiety, whereas other age groups associated it with pain relief.

We decided to check out whether social media reflected this bias.

The age demographics of social media users who mention CBD and anxiety together are clearly concentrated in their twenties and early thirties.

The age range of social media users who mention CBD and pain is more varied. Notice the increase in users aged 35-45 and 45-55. Also, when compared to anxiety-related posts, take note of the dramatic decrease in users aged 18-25.

It appears that older users are more interested in the pain relief benefits of CBD, while younger users are more interested in the anxiety-reducing effects. This insight should drive marketing campaigns.

On our platform, we even found tweets that highlighted this difference. While younger adults tend to mention CBD with anxiety relief, older adults recommend it for pain relief.

From these insights, we know that demographics both young and old are receptive to using CBD. The trend is heading that way, and the market will grow.

Social Media Consumer Insights Reveal 2 Target Audiences

It’s already been established that CBD oil and CBD vape pens are the top dogs of the industry. The numbers alone tell us that story. Interestingly, though, our platform found a high correlation in the mentions of the two topics. Or, in other words, the volume of conversations behind both topics evolved in a very similar way this past year.


Simultaneously, CBD lotions and gummies also demonstrated a high correlation this past year.



What do these two pieces of information tell us about the industry? Well, we think that there are two distinct target audiences here: a group looking for immediate relief, and one that isn’t. Let us explain. 

When thinking about CBD products, we like to talk about bioavailability. This refers to the amount of CBD that’s actually getting into your system. When using oils, the CBD goes directly into your bloodstream, giving you a bioavailability of 20-30%. Similarly, vape pens and cartridges allow the CBD to travel from the lungs into the bloodstream, giving you a bioavailability of 30-40%.

Meanwhile, the bioavailability of CBD gummies is at a meager 5%! And for topically applied products, like lotions, the bioavailability is nearly nonexistent.

What does this mean? This means we have one group of people interested in CBD products whose effects are felt almost immediately. On the other hand, another group is interested in CBD products with small doses, like gummies and lotions. These are two distinct groups of users! With these insights, companies can further narrow down the target audience and develop effective campaigns to reach them.

What does this mean for the industry’s future?

Our social media consumer insights on the CBD industry reveal some important things. One, there’s a demand. And, two, different demographics are open to these products, but in different contexts. Younger audiences see CBD as a treatment for anxiety, while older adults are open to the idea of using it for relief from chronic pain. Some people want immediate relief, while others are interested in products with low dosages. With pharma companies facing growing backlash against opioids and other drug developments, CBD is an expanding industry that warrants a closer look. In the next five years, the field will look vastly different. Now is the time for companies to begin R&D into various applications of CBD, or invest altogether in a promising company. Social media intelligence platforms allow companies to identify growing trends and their target audience before it’s too late to enter the game. Schedule a demo here.