Why CBD is a safe bet for retailers like Target, CVS and Walgreens

Ted MarzilliCEO YouGov Direct
May 29, 2019, 4:04 PM GMT+0

Is it a risky bet for retailers to carry CBD or Cannabidiol products, which are made with a marijuana derivative?

Probably not. YouGov Plan and Track data shows that a majority of Americans support marijuana legalization for personal use (56%) and even more support using it for medical purposes (80%).

That overwhelming positivity may explain why, CBD, a marijuana derivative with no psychoactive properties, took the wellness industry by storm in 2018. The drug, which is sold over the counter, is mentioned as a salve for a suite of ailments, from PTSD to anxiety to pain relief.

CBD sales topped $375 million in 2018, according to data from New Frontiers research.

It’s no wonder major retailers like CVS, Walgreens and Target are getting in on the CBD action because there’s a lot of money to be made, and each of these three retailers has either started selling CBD (CVS and Walgreens) or plan to this year (Target).

But CBD is only quasi-legal, and its cousin, THC is still outlawed by the federal government. Could there be potential pitfalls for a national consumer brand to align itself with a marijuana component -- like CBD -- while it remains largely illegal?

YouGov’s Plan and Track data offers an insight: most current and former customers of all three retailers either support or strongly support marijuana legalization. Likewise, most customers of CVS, Walgreens and Target believe marijuana has a legitimate medical purpose.

But among the three retailers, Target’s current and former customers seem to be the most effusive in their support for marijuana legislation, and using marijuana as a medicine. About 39 percent of its customers “strongly support” marijuana legalization, compared with about 36 percent of the nation. Marijuana as medicine draws about 84 percent support compared with about 80 percent for the country.

Roughly the same percentage of Walgreens and CVS customers (38%) “strongly support” marijuana legislation compared with 26 percent of the country. About 80 percent of CVS and Walgreens customers think marijuana has applications as medicine and those percentages are in line with responses from the country as a whole.

It would appear that CVS, Walgreens and Target are in no jeopardy of turning off their current or former customers by offering a marijuana derivative on their store shelves, and Target may find the most overlap with its existing and former customers’ opinions on the topic.