As reported previously by WWD, drunk shopping is $44.9 billion industry in the U.S, it should come as no surprise then that Americans are looking to vices such as alcohol and CBD to get them through quarantine.
Under enormous stress, new data from the Harris Poll found that one in five consumers are consuming more alcohol during the coronavirus pandemic. That number was even higher, at 30 percent, for those in the 18- to 35-year-old range.
According to Catharine Dockery, founding partner of Vice Ventures, the venture capital fund that invests in “vice” categories including sextech, cannabis, CBD and alcohol, similar trends are being seen across other vice products as well. And a large part of this is an increase in self-care marketing.
“People are really investing in self-care and are seeking out their favorite brands for DTC consumption,” Dockery said. “One company in our portfolio that’s seen an explosion of sales is Lucy [because] consumers are showing a real interest in alternative and harm-reducing ways to consume nicotine where they can stay inside and not inhale smoke or vapor.”
“We are seeing our wellness brands in the Orthogonal portfolio thriving in new and different ways,” said Alex Speiser, chief operating officer at Orthogonal Thinker. “Surya, the premier Ayurvedic company, is tapping into its loyal customer base and providing telemedicine and healing food delivery to keep their clients healthy and sane during this unprecedented period. And Meadow, the backbone of the cannabis and CBD industries in California, has thrived during this emotionally difficult period as cannabis dispensaries are an essential business in California.”
Stress, isolation and uncertainty, Dockery says are creating a moment for vice products. “Individuals are largely at home, many with extra free time, and are free to consume vice products as they please,” Dockery said. “People are scared and yet somehow also bored, and they’re turning to their favorite vice brands to make quarantine less difficult.”
Though consumers aren’t buying in the same way as they were pre-crisis either, instead favoring products that encourage self-care and personal enjoyment rather than social consumption. “Consumers are absolutely buying larger quantities and favoring products that can be consumed in smaller groups indoors,” Dockery noted.
“The larger question we are asking is how will coping mechanisms change after the COVID crisis? As we all know, spending in the wellness space has rapidly increased since the Great Recession,” Speiser said. “We anticipate this trend to only increase and frankly believe that psychedelic therapies will evolve into a coping mechanism over this decade.”
And during quarantine, Speiser told WWD brands that focus on psychedelic science, such as EI. Ventures, have been receiving more attention.
“It is too early to tell, but we are confident that people will be seeking more and more empowerment products,” Speiser said. “By ‘empowerment products,’ we simply mean products that will empower and not deplete consumers. Hence, our focus on clean label products and access to whole plant medicines.”
Though as recent reports have shown, wellness companies need to be careful when marketing products as coronavirus “cures.”
Both Speiser and Dockery agreed this issue comes down to mindfulness and compassion. “I think everyone needs to stay mindful that this is an experience shared by nearly all of humanity and is something that will require real collaboration to succeed,” Dockery said. “Brands need to remain aware that their consumers are often having a very challenging time, be it mentally, physically, fiscally, etc.”
“Broadly, we believe consumers are redefining what is ‘important’ — and health being of paramount importance,” Speiser said. “Our health is the foundation for a happy life. We also appreciate how there is a re-prioritization on supporting local businesses and local supply chains.”
For More WWD Business News: