Cannabidiol Marketing Strategies in the United States: An Analysis of Three Prominent Companies

Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2022 Sep 27. doi: 10.1089/can.2022.0080. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: The popularity and market for cannabidiol (CBD) products have expanded. Materials and Methods: Using Numerator advertising data from 2017 to 2021 regarding three popular CBD companies in the United States (Charlotte's Web, Green Roads, Medterra), we examined (1) general advertising characteristics (e.g., media channel, year); (2) ad content (i.e., themes of headlines and imagery); (3) themes of prominent sources (i.e., specific websites, magazines, etc.); and (4) ad expenditures. Results: Across companies during the study timeframe, there were 475 unique ads (i.e., unique content), 4767 ad occurrences, and $1,471,944 total expenditures. Charlotte's Web accounted for the greatest proportion of unique ads, ad occurrences, and expenditures (53.3%, 62.8%, and 70.3%, respectively), followed by Medterra (40.4%, 33.9%, and 28.5%) and Green Roads (6.3%, 3.3%, and 1.2%). The largest proportion of occurrences and expenditures were via online display (83.5%, 54.8%), followed by mobile (15.9%, 24.8%) and print (0.4%, 20.1%). Per ad occurrences and expenditures, ads prominently featured headline themes focused on brand/trust/quality (27.5%, 18.3%, respectively), wellness (17.5%, 17.7%), pain/sport (9.9%, 20.0%), and promotions (13.2%, 11.6%), in addition to visual themes of the product itself (74.3%, 78.5%) or with women (5.3%, 10.0%). The most prominent source themes were focused on health/wellness (21.0% of ad occurrences, 18.1% of expenditures), followed by other websites and search engines (18.3%, 11.2%), news/weather (12.9%, 21.3%), and entertainment/lifestyle/culture (12.6%, 28.0%). Despite some distinctions between companies, ad and source themes were similar. Conclusions: Regulatory efforts must be informed by ongoing surveillance of CBD marketing and how specific consumer subgroups are impacted by marketing exposure.

Keywords: cannabidiol; cannabinoids; marketing; public health policy.