NewYork, 19.03.2019

Almost 4 million Americans are CBD users; segment has a health-focused view of cannabis

MRI-Simmons’ syndicated National Cannabis Study provides unprecedented learning on marijuana users and avoiders

The hemp-derived oil known as CBD is bringing cannabis to the mainstream, from CBD “shots” at coffee shops to edible CBD gummy bears sold at convenience stores. Newly released research from MRI-Simmons shows that people who buy CBD items can be very different from other consumers of cannabis products.  

Data from MRI’s National Cannabis Study – the only syndicated nationwide study of cannabis consumption and attitudes – shows that 36 million Americans (ages 18 and above) are cannabis consumers, and 10% of them (3.7 million) use CBD products.

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Cannabis as a wellness tool

Half (50%) of “CBDers” say they consume cannabis only for medical purposes – compared to 15% of the overall cannabis population. (See Table 1.) Another 42% of CBDers consume cannabis for both medical and recreational reasons.

Table 1. Reasons for cannabis consumption: CBDers versus
all cannabis consumers

Reasons for cannabis consumption

CBD consumers

All cannabis consumers

Medical only



Medical & recreational



Recreational only



Almost two-thirds (60%) of CBD consumers belong to the Wellness Pot Practitioners segment, one of three groups of cannabis users identified by MRI-Simmons. This segment views cannabis as primarily a health and wellness tool; in fact, one-third of CBD consumers take part in meditation while consuming – and 13% practice yoga.

Showing an activist streak

One-third (34%) of CBD consumers are active members of a group that promotes legalization of cannabis. In addition, 8 out of 10 (81%) CBD consumers agree that the benefits of cannabis outweigh any negative health concerns, and three-quarters (72%) say that consumption is widely accepted in their friend group.

With a median age of 45, CBD consumers skew a little bit younger than the average American. CBD consumers are also highly multicultural; they are roughly 40% more likely than the average cannabis consumer to be Hispanic, Asian, or Native American.

The National Cannabis Study also provides in-depth information on every aspect of cannabis consumers’ lives, including

  •     product use
  •     media and technology use
  •     attitudes about politics, medicine, and hundreds of other subjects

“The CBD consumer is both more mainstream and more politically engaged than the average cannabis consumer,” said Michael Panebianco, Vice President of Sales at MRI-Simmons. “They advocate for the legalization of cannabis, even though some are hesitant about actually consuming it. And their use of products and media are distinct from other cannabis groups. As with all other buyers today, it is essential to know them inside and out and provide messages and products that speak directly to their needs.”

The MRI National Cannabis Study was conducted using a nationally representative sample of over 3,000 respondents on KnowledgePanel*. The resulting dataset was fused to MRI’s top-quality consumer dataset for deep profiling purposes and nationwide universe estimates. Miner & Co Studio – leading researchers in the world of cannabis since 2014 – provided thought leadership and ethnographies to bring the findings to life.

MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer® represents the gold standard in traditional planning and consumer insights. As part of the Survey, MRI conducts over 24,000 in-person, in-home interviews each year in both English and Spanish, capturing an unequaled range of information on US consumers’ media use, buying habits, lifestyles, and attitudes.

* Note: The cannabis survey was conducted on KnowledgePanel while it was owned by GfK; the panel has since become the property of Ipsos.       

About MRI-Simmons

Launched as a joint venture in 2019, MRI-Simmons combines the assets and expertise of two of the leading consumer insights providers in the US.  Together, they will offer agency, media, and advertiser clients the best in research and technology with the highest quality data, the strongest strategic partnerships, the most innovative digital platforms, and intuitive, easy-to-use visual reporting.

MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer® – which has maintained MRC accreditation for over 20 years – is used in the majority of US media and marketing plans and has long been the industry standard for magazine audience ratings. Through 24,000 in-person interviews each year, MRI captures in-depth information on consumer media choices, attitudes, and consumption of products and services in nearly 600 categories.

Simmons measures American consumer psychographics, preferences, attitudes, and media behaviors by closely overlaying survey and passively measured data using advanced measurement sciences. For more than 60 years, Simmons has helped leading brands, agencies, and media companies effectively engage with consumers, providing measurement of over 200,000 consumer elements.

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