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How are consumers using CBD? 7 key trends in Europe

A new report offers some key insights into CBD trends across Europe. We dive into the data.



CBD is now one of the most popular wellness products in Europe, with 11% of those surveyed saying they had used it. Photo by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash

A new report offers a hopeful picture of the current and future CBD landscape in Europe. We explore how, when, and why (or why not) people are using CBD products.

CBD-infused products are popping up everywhere, from your local grocers to the high street pharmacy. The potential benefits of CBD are well reported, but how many people are actually incorporating it into their daily routines? Is there a growing appetite for CBD as cannabis (and attitudes around it) becomes increasingly liberated?

A recent report looking at the CBD market across Europe and the UK finds that CBD is now one of the most popular wellness products in Europe. 

The European CBD report, published by industry analysts Prohibition Partners, estimates that in 2022 just under €1.7 billion worth of CBD products were sold in Europe. The figure is expected to grow to just under €2.6 billion by 2026.

So what’s behind the success of CBD?

The authors attribute it to: 

  • The increasing proportion of people who say they are using CBD products.
  • The resurgence of CBD products on European shelves following the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling.
  • The continuing sales of food and drink products under legally ‘grey’ conditions, as well as the increase expected around the end of 2023 when fully approved novel CBD products will be marketable.

When it comes to CBD use in Europe, 11% of the 5,234 people surveyed have used a CBD product in the last 12 months and 4% claim to have used CBD at some point in their lives (but not in the past 12 months for various reasons which are touched upon in more detail in the report). 

Awareness of CBD in Europe is high, with just over half of the people surveyed having at least heard of CBD products. This is likely due to better knowledge about the safety and effectiveness of CBD, its inclusion in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) product portfolios and the increasing prevalence of CBD products in mainstream retailers.

Dive into the data below and explore seven key CBD consumer trends from the report.

  • Which country in Europe leads the way in CBD usage?

The highest prevalence of past-year CBD usage was found in Poland, where almost 15% of survey respondents indicated that they had used a CBD product in the last year. This is in keeping with the development of Poland as a hub for the production and distribution of CBD products.

Italy showed the lowest percentage of past year CBD usage at 8%, though this could be because CBD is commonly known in Italy as ‘cannabis light’ and some consumers may not recognise this as a CBD product. These results confirm that CBD is now a commonly purchased CPG product across most European countries, despite the lack of regulation and any enforcement of laws.

  • How many times a week are people using CBD? 

While 11% of respondents indicated that they have used some CBD product in the past year, about 35% of CBD users classified their usage over the past 12 months as infrequent or occasional, meaning less than once per month.

This figure speaks to the volume of people on the continent who are, at least, curious about CBD products and who are willing to try them or rely on them for short periods throughout the year.

Around 39% of users indicated their usage of CBD as being once or more per week. This represents a portion of the population who have integrated CBD products into their daily lives, often as part of their wellness routines.

  • How old are most CBD users in Europe? 

In general, CBD is more commonly used by the younger generation rather than those aged 50 upwards. This is normal for new industries, where young consumers are more open to trying new products while the older generations can take longer to adopt them.

A respondent aged 18-24 in Europe is around twice as likely to report past-year usage of CBD when compared to a respondent in the 50-60 category. In addition, the percentage of people who have heard of CBD is much higher for younger generations, where new trends spread faster, especially those related to wellness.

The prevalence of people who have never heard of CBD peaked in the 51-55 age category, while those in the 18-24 category were most ‘in the know’ about the products.

  • How are people consuming CBD? 

Prohibition Partners surveyed 955 CBD users on their purchasing habits to understand the current state of the market.

Overall, it is clear that oils and tinctures remain the most popular product format, with over 56% of past year CBD consumers reporting some usage of both. This makes sense as oils are a familiar product format in the wellness category. Oils are also easily dosed and are commonly available throughout Europe, partly as legally ‘grey’ food supplements, but also as cosmetics, which can be used topically and, in some cases, ingested like regular CBD oil. 

Hemp flowers are currently the second most common method of CBD product consumption on the continent, surpassing food and drink formats respectively. As discussed above, CBD flowers are regulated very differently in different countries. In some, like the United Kingdom, CBD flowers are, in theory, not marketable and especially not as a tobacco substitute, whereas in Italy and Spain, more liberal regulations have allowed the ‘cannabis light’ market to flourish.

The usage of different CBD products varies widely across age groups. The split can generally be traced along the lines of familiar product formats such as oils, capsules and pills more often used by older age groups and the more novel product formats on European shelves such as herbal material, flower, e-cigarettes and vapes used by younger age groups.

This can be expected to level out in the coming years. As CBD flowers become a more accepted product format for consumers, and regulators are more easily able to distinguish between legal and illicit products, more shops will begin offering them. The novel and inhaled product formats of flowers and vapes are also expected to be regulated properly in the upcoming updates to tobacco regulations in Europe.

  • Why aren’t people in Europe using CBD? 

Respondents who indicated that they had heard of CBD, but not used it in the past 12 months, were asked about their reasons for not using CBD. According to the report, the predominant reason why people are not using CBD products is a lack of faith that the wellness effects, that are much discussed in the media and in CBD marketing, will not be effective for them. This may be true in many cases.

However, some factors may be misinforming consumers, such as the lack of awareness around dosing, e.g. where consumers try very small quantities or try for an insufficient length of time before giving up because of a lack of beneficial effects. 

Price is the second most common reason that consumers do not use CBD products. As more products reach the shelves, especially after the advent of legal novel foods, price compression will likely drive down the cost of CBD products in Europe, which may encourage consumers to try them.

The next three most common reasons can all be directly addressed by the CBD industry; increased marketing around where to source CBD products, increased education around the legality of CBD, and finally,  increased education in terms of the latest studies on CBD safety and efficacy. These initiatives would go a long way to solving these barriers to consumers entering the market.

  • Are non-CBD users likely to try CBD in the next year?

Every metric that Prohibition Partners investigated, after having surveyed people across Europe, indicates that the number of consumers and the amount of consumption in Europe is still gradually increasing.

Around 8% of people who did not consume CBD products in the past 12 months have indicated that they intend to use them in the next 12 months. This will represent a massive influx of previous and new consumers to the market. This is before considering the 35% of non-users who are ‘on the fence’ about consuming CBD products in the next 12 months. 

  • Will CBD consumers continue using in the next 12 months?

Prohibition Partners also asked current consumers how they felt their consumption would change in the next 12 months. A large number (36%) of consumers indicated that they would reduce or discontinue their use of CBD products over the next 12 months.

This high turnover rate is manageable now for the young industry, but deserves close attention by operators, as eventually the reliability of revenue generation and a stable consumer base will be necessary to support the industry.

Bonus insight: CBD search trends on Google

Results show a general increasing trend in the interest in CBD purchases on Google Shopping across most European countries. Some countries have peaked in recent years, such as Italy and Germany which had their respective peaks in 2018 and 2020 though interest remains strong. 

Germany is the country showing the largest decrease in average interest in the past three years. This data compares favourably with the same trends seen in the US, where a strong decline in interest in CBD has been registered since 2019.

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Nellie is an award-winning writer, editor and content creator specialising in sustainable development, climate justice, oceans, cities, food and cannabis (to name a few). She is a passionate systems thinker and loves bringing people's stories to life through words, data, imagery, and other creative formats. Nellie has lived and worked in NYC, Los Angeles, Rhode Island, and London in a range of leadership roles across media, policy and business. She currently lives in Worthing, the "hackney-on-sea" of the south coast, where she serves as Communications Chair for the local Green Party.


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