The cannabis community isn’t what it used to be.
Customers of cannabis-related products exist in rising numbers — around a fifth of the U.S. population now has recreational access to cannabis — and they’re bunking all of the traditional stereotypes.
So, who is the new cannabis consumer? Companies and investors in the cannabis space are well advised to learn who is starting to make up their largest market segment. Let’s look at some of the findings we’ve come across lately.
Marijuana Moves Mainstream
The new cannabis consumer demographic is less likely to fit the stoner image, and more likely to be into “mindful marijuana” use. Many new consumers, according to some of the latest surveys, are young professionals. They look for the chic, the sleek, the beautifully packaged products.
Quite a few new cannabis consumers are parents of young kids. Some consumers are politically independent. Yet most are either Republican or Democrat, and they fall almost equally between the two major parties.
Of course, this is good news for marketers who are pleased to see marijuana being widely accepted by all kinds of people.
Boulder’s BDS Analytics does market research for dispensaries. The group has undertaken studies of Colorado and California adults. What they found about the typical cannabis consumer might come as a surprise to some.
Respondents who say they consumed cannabis in the past six months are decidedly more active. They are more likely to exercise regularly than other people. And 42% do yoga or Pilates, which is double the rate for non-consumers. Cannabis users are creative and accomplished. They love outdoor recreation, and they embrace volunteering.
Move over, stoner-hippie stereotype. These folk are the same people you see sipping craft beer or kombucha in a cozy bar in some historic old building.
Why People Look For Pot Today
Most of the new buyers aren’t into getting stoned and tuning out. Typically, they want to stay socially present.
Some of the new cannabis consumers integrate pot into an overall wellness regime. They opt for weed because it’s a less addictive alternative to harsher products such as booze or prescription drugs. (Maybe some of these buyers are replacing sugary drinks, too.)
Yes, they’re into health.
Of course, medicinal uses are a large part of what’s brought marijuana into the mainstream. The medical cannabis consumers are looking for relief from health issues, some of which can be severe medical concerns such as the effects of a stroke. Notably, the medicinal consumers tend to spend more on cannabis products than recreational users. Medical consumers typically buy one product, and buy it repeatedly.
In contrast, the non-medical, adult-use pot consumers tend to buy smaller amounts. They are typically interested in the marketing and packaging that can draw them to try new varieties. They may want to learn the differences among the cannabis strains, just as beer drinkers want to know the difference between a pale ale and a lager. A good number of recreational consumers are not only learning to recognize strains; they are becoming connoisseurs.
Key Consumer Trends
If you’re marketing to the new generation of pot consumers, you’ll want to know what kind of products and services have particular appeal. This is an exciting, developing marketplace.
There is one standout trend: carefully prepared products from pipes to sweets, elegantly packaged and delivered, are more appealing to a wide variety of customers than the plant itself.
In our conversations with marijuana delivery drivers, we find that when the product is delivered, the order ratio is probably around 60/40, vaporizer-to-herb. People aren’t ordering dried leaves for delivery as much as they’re buying products like vape pens filled with concentrates. Leafly’s research shows fast-moving products in every state where consumers are active, and vaporizer carts are a very big deal.
Why do people smoke pot? Maybe the key question is why they don’t. Society has dropped the idea of smoking as glamorous. Vape pens and infused products offer an alternative. They’re on the upward trend in Colorado, and the trend is likely to repeat itself in any state embracing legal weed.
Concentrates and Edibles
Recreational demand for leaves is dropping. This same trend is playing out among medical consumers, who are seeking out higher-priced concentrates. And we’re now finding that older consumers tend to prefer edibles over leaves.
Sweets and pastries are selling well enough to attract notice at the Specialty Food Association. Indeed, Entrepreneur magazine lists marijuana edibles as one of the top ten 2018 food trends.
The new cannabis consumer expects retailers and delivery services to know where their weed comes from. This consumer wants to support family farms, as lessons from the restaurant and grocery industries will make clear.
As cannabis suppliers proliferate and compete, the players willing to proactively ensure transparency in the supply chain, and show respect for the origin and the growers of their wares, will become the trusted brands.
Comprehensive, reader-friendly labels and active engagement through social channels will matter greatly.
The new cannabis consumers like knowing that they can have their packages delivered to their door. And they appreciate companies whose delivery staffers can talk with them about the products.
Some of the delivery customers have chronic pain issues, so delivery is vital for them.
Top rated delivery companies hand out complimentary gift bags to impress and keep their customers.
Attending to the Trends; Looking Ahead
Keeping up with the new cannabis consumer demands a varied approach and creative marketing. For example, edibles with a gentle potency are very much in demand by the older consumer and the young professional alike. Smoking is declining; vape pens are on the rise.
And people who are new to the experience are searching for knowledge and guidance. Retailers need to be aware of the vital role played by education in creating a trusted, high-performing staff.
There will be great success stories ahead. The most successful entrants to the cannabis market are those who attend to the data, anticipate the new trends, and develop sound methods for transparency and integrity in this quickly developing industry.