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    The great CBD fightback

    Photo: iStock

    A few years ago, from about 2018 and into the lockdown, there was a bit of a craze for CBD, and a slew of start-up companies began to announce products that promised ease and rejuvenation – everything from lozenges, teas and cosmetics to OTC remedies, creams and various CBD enhanced foodstuffs and vapes.

    Fashionista magazine noted that as recently as 2020, CBD was everywhere: “It seemed like hundreds of oils, drinks, topicals and candles … were entering the market each month. Its claims included relief from stress, pain and anxiety (when ingested) as well as anti-inflammatory and hydration-boosting properties (when applied topically).” It was even in leggings!

    Then something went wrong. In the US, where they collect such figures, from March 2022 to March 2023, hemp-based CBD product sales declined by 10 per cent nationwide.

    It is fair to say that after a period of hype that was indeed partly cut off by Covid, the public seemed to lose interest a bit – the promise of cannabis items available legally over the counter somewhat lost its allure after people realised that they didn’t contain marijuana’s active ingredient: CBD is simply not psychoactive, does not cause intoxication nor stimulate a person to experience a high. It was going to be the new coffee, at least, and then the new ginseng maybe, and then …

    But CBD products have not gone away. After the froth blew off, the serious business of making excellent products with proven benefits embedded itself, and the CBD brands around today are showing their worth and their attractiveness, and value to consumers. In fact, the CBD market is now estimated at around $1bn in the USA, and is growing back steadily here in the UK as consumers accept it in a range of products at the performance and therapeutic end of the shelf, such as energy and technical drinks.

    The great CBD fightback

    The perfect example of this new kind of successful CBD-infused product is TRIP, which bills itself as “The UK’s favourite CBD drinks”. Asian Trader asked its Impulse & Wholesale Lead, George Meller, to tell us about the category and the product, and he confirmed that the market for CBD is firmly in growth.

    “We’ve seen a sharp increase in trial and awareness of the CBD category over the years,” says Meller. “The number of people who have tried a CBD-infused product has doubled from 13 per cent in 2020 to 26 per cent in 2022, and 22 per cent of people are more likely to try an alcohol-free drink if it contains CBD.”

    He notes how demand growth is even stronger for Gen Z where half have tried CBD instead of alcohol (KAM Media & TRIP UK Survey 2022).

    TRIP now represents 88 per cent of the CBD drinks category (NielsenIQ) and the trend has resulted in a huge uplift in stockists across wholesale, convenience, grocery, on trade and on-the-go.

    “With TRIP leading the functional category, supported by its first nationwide television campaign from May, it’s set to be a busy summer for the UK’s largest independently-owned soft drinks brand,” Meller says, pointing out that since topping 15 years of Alantra’s Fast 50 list of the fastest-growing UK food and drink brands, TRIP’s next step in achieving its mission – “to help millions of people around the world find their calm” – is to focus on growing awareness and distribution in the Wholesale and Convenience channel.

    The great CBD fightback

    “This effort has involved launches in numerous strategic independent depots and key nationwide partnerships with Bestway, Dhamecha, Central Supplies, AF Blakemore, SPAR, Millennium, Brakes, and Bidfood,” he says, adding that it is indeed functional drinks, as well as Energy, that are the fastest-growing segments of soft drinks: “And as consumers look for healthier, alcohol alternatives, store owners need to consider stocking traditional soft drinks, energy water, and now functional drinks options.”

    In fact, take TRIP, which is now truly finding its place in the c-channel, as a bellwether for CBD. Meller explains that TRIP launched in 2019 but has grown a phenomenal +522 per cent over just the last 12 months, making it the UK’s #1 CBD brand, and the fastest-growing soft drinks brand in the UK – growing 5X as fast as the UK’s second fastest growing soft drinks brand (NielsenIQ). He says that as a brand, TRIP has added more category value than the entirety of other leading drinks trends combined, including functional shots, kombucha, coconut water and vitamin waters.  

    TRIP is also launching its first ever TV campaign, which is now live nationwide across Channel 4 and its owned channels, such as E4. The TV campaign aims to boost brand awareness across its full range, including CBD and the newly launched Mindful Blend drinks range, reaching over 14 million people. 

    “With over 50 per cent of our spend on Channel 4 and Channel 4 On Demand, TRIP will be accessing some of the biggest shows of the year, like Gogglebox, Married at First Sight, Made in Chelsea and The Great British Bake Off,” he says, adding that TRIP has launched onto shelves where no CBD product had previously existed. And then there is TRIP Mindful Blend:

    “It’s the brand-new way to access more trending ingredients all in one delicious drink. With the global wellness industry now worth over $5.6 trillion, it is no surprise that the powerful health benefits of Lion’s Mane, Magnesium, and Ashwagandha have boomed on social media, and TRIP Mindful Blend offers the perfect new way to unwind with a unique blend of ingredients,” Meller sums up.

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