All segments of the beverage industry are now embracing cannabis-infused drinks, according to new research from Prohibition Partners.

The data and intelligence firm noted there’s clear potential for a growing consumer base, as 16 percent of people who have not yet consumed cannabis-infused drinks say they will probably do so within the next 12 months.

“We are on the cusp of a drinks revolution. For centuries, legal socializing has either involved alcohol or sobriety — outside of caffeine and nicotine, ultimately you either consumed alcohol in varying qualities, or you didn’t,” said Stephen Murphy, managing director of Prohibition Partners. “Cannabis infusions bring a third choice to leisure consumerism, and consumer research from Prohibition Partners finds that it’s a choice a lot of people plan to make. With global consumers now embracing health-focused alternatives, the emerging cannabis drinks market is one of the most exciting sectors within the drinks industry.”

Findings from Prohibition Partners’ "Impact Series: Disrupting Drinks" report reveal:

  • Cannabis is growing in every segment of the drinks industry, from alcoholic drinks to energy drinks, wellness to soda, fruit juice to coffees and tea.
  • Consumer demand is strong: One in four consumers or would-be consumers of other cannabinoid-based products would be willing to try cannabis-infused drinks.
  • 28 percent of people who have already tried infused beverages say they intend to buy more infused consumer goods in the coming three months.
  • The current stressors of 2020 have already proven to be a boost to cannabis-based products. Despite the economic downturn, cannabis is still set to record impressive growth as consumers look for products to help them relax and de-stress, and as one of the fastest growing formats, drinks will likely be the greatest beneficiary.

 “When facing an economic crisis, consumers will be more willing to buy less costly luxury goods,” Murphy said. “The underlying assumption is that consumers will buy luxury goods even if there is a crisis, but that these goods will be more budget-conscious luxury. Cannabis-infused drinks are an ideal example of this, and Prohibition Partners has found that cannabis products are expected to benefit from this period of self-isolation, which is causing consumers to stockpile cannabis products especially as part of the ‘home entertainment lineup.’” 

The emerging cannabis drinks segment could serve as a possible alternative to alcoholic drinks and help offset an impending overuse of alcohol.

“We have found that four in ten consumers who have or intend to purchase cannabinoid-infused beverages do so as a replacement for other intoxicating substances,” Murphy said. “Therefore, although cannabis-based drinks represent a credible challenge to the alcoholic drinks industry, the positive impact they could have on reducing alcohol abuse could be more important with a further reaching global impact.”

Industry growth is further driven by COVID-19 shining a spotlight on respiratory illness and lung disease and is having a knock-on effect on how people choose to consume cannabis. People are avoiding smoking and vaping in favor of other formats such as drinks and edibles. Furthermore, governments throughout the globe will be searching for ways to bolster flagging economies, and cannabis-infused beverages have the potential to deliver.

Working parents also serve as a potential consumer base, as 2020 has seen them take on the roles of worker, teacher and parent all at once. Their wish to reduce stress is evidenced by the fact that almost 70 percent of people who reported that they are likely to buy more infused products in the coming three months have children under the age of 18 in the household.

This indicates parents may need an outlet to provide a form of escapism or self-medication during the crisis. This is likely to also be a key reason that more than half of those who intend to purchase more cannabis-infused drinks in the coming three months are aged 25-44.

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