How Consumers Are Shaping Cannabis Consumption
The cannabis industry continues to reach new heights, and according to market analysts, global legal spending on cannabis could reach $32 billion by 2022 — a majority of which is thanks to U.S. and Canadian consumers.
What’s driving the evolution of the market?
Cannabis is in the midst of a shakeup, and today’s infographic from Ionic Brands highlights how consumers are significantly shaping the landscape of cannabis.
Cannabis Concentrates: A New Frontier
For years, joints and blunts dominated the industry—but sales of traditional flower are swiftly losing ground to new products. Here’s how cannabis consumer spending looks across North America in a few short years:
|% Market Share||↓ 14pp|
From 50% to 36%
From 12% to 14%
From 23% to 36%
From 15% to 14%
Cannabis consumers are clearly moving away from simply smoking the product. Concentrates are the fastest growing industry segment, which is not surprising since they’re needed to make all sorts of products, from edibles to topicals and tinctures. Cannabis concentrates are also discreet, convenient, and more potent than other cannabis products, all of which contribute to their consumer appeal.
In fact, these changing preferences are disrupting other mammoth industries. Take JUUL Labs for example: the inconspicuous, smokeless device is chipping away at the tobacco industry, and now accounts for almost 73% of the e-cigarette market. JUUL’s growth is proof that consumers are driving the market, and this trend is also reflected in cannabis.
Among all cannabis concentrate types, vaporizers (vapes) overwhelmingly come out on top in established markets, accounting for 43% of sales in Colorado, 70% in Oregon, and 79% in California.
|Concentrate Sales (2018, Jan-Jun)||Vape||Wax||Shatter||Live Resin||Oils||Others|
Branding is Everything in Cannabis
The cannabis concentrates space is becoming increasingly sophisticated. With more money to be made from less product, concentrates offer higher margins as well. But in a fragmented market, brand recognition is arguably the biggest factor guiding consumer demand.
Returning to JUUL’s example, the company’s branding played a big hand in its accelerated trajectory—and in grabbing the attention of major players like Altria, the corporate parent of Marlboro. Altria made a landmark investment into 35% of JUUL in December 2018, bringing the latter’s value up to $38 billion.
In the nascent cannabis industry, consumers are still wondering who they can trust. A recent survey revealed that 72% of cannabis consumers rated branding as somewhat or very important in assessing a product’s quality and safety. Branded cannabis products are on the rise, but they’re not as established as Starbucks coffee or Apple iPhones quite yet.
When done right, cannabis concentrates brands are able to capture quite a significant chunk of the market:
Top 10 brands: 48.4%
All other: 51.6%
Top 10 brands: 46.6%
All other: 53.4%
Top 10 brands: 59.7%
All other: 40.3%
In a budding industry, such brand market domination is an impressive feat. However, a few barriers still stand in the way of these brands’ ability to scale on a national level: cannabis and related products aren’t legal in every U.S. state, while diverse state regulations also complicate the process.
Cannabis consumer brands that can spread out into multiple states, and develop consumer trust, will emerge as winners in this new, dynamic market.
Consumer Archetypes Shaping the European CBD Industry
This infographic visualizes the non-consumer and consumer archetypes that could be position Europe as the leader in global cannabis consumption.
Consumer Archetypes Shaping the European CBD Industry
View the high-resolution of the infographic by clicking here.
With a colossal base of 500 million potential cannabis consumers, and laws that are loosening at a steady pace, Europe could soon emerge as the global cannabis leader.
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has become one of the most popular forms of cannabis in the European market, but little is known about the consumers who are reaching for it.
New Frontier Data identified a spectrum of archetypes in an effort to better understand their consumption patterns.
What Makes Europe Different?
Although Europe’s cannabis market is still in early stages, the proximity of countries could be instrumental in how quickly it grows. Widespread legalisation could be accelerated due to neighbouring countries lowering the barriers for others—also known as The Domino Effect.
A total of 22 countries have now legalised some form of medical cannabis, while other countries have decriminalised recreational cannabis or have pledged to fully legalise it in the coming years.
There is a 60% to 70% chance that cannabis will be legal across Europe within the next three years, but more research is key to unlocking growth in this market—and that includes gaining a full understanding of what consumers want.
CBD Consumer Archetypes
New Frontier Data identified five CBD consumer archetypes and four non-consumer archetypes, based on their attitudes, beliefs, and experiences. The CBD consumer archetypes are as follows:
- The Exuberant & Intense (11%): As advocates of the CBD movement, this group is devoted to trying different products and spends more than any other archetype in the process.
- The Integrative & Consistent (29%): CBD has become an essential component in achieving a healthy lifestyle for this group, resulting in them consuming it at least once a week and putting them in second place for highest overall spend.
- The Sceptical & Limited (20%): CBD products are used in moderate frequency, but have not been incorporated into this group’s lifestyle as they are generally wary of health claims. However, more information may soothe the concerns of this group over time.
- The Receptive & Reserved (23%): Consuming a narrow range of products in moderate frequency, this group are more comfortable trying products based on recommendations from friends and family. Over time, as more people in their inner circle try different products, they will also gain confidence to follow.
- The Ambivalent & Experimental (17%): This group will not consider purchasing CBD products themselves, but will consume products when they are shared by friends and family. While their beliefs are more conservative, new products could tempt them to make CBD part of their routine.
Interestingly, up to 98% of surveyed consumers claim that CBD has positively affected their quality of life in some way. In terms of product preferences, tinctures/oils are a consumer favourite, with a large portion of people using CBD to unwind.
Less than half of all non-consumers have heard of CBD. While some of them are not open to changing behaviors, others could soon convert to a consumer archetype, provided information and legalisation becomes more commonplace.
- Unaware & Uninterested (43%): Having never come across CBD products online or in store, this group is broadly uninterested in learning more, but may be open to experimenting as the market becomes more regulated.
- Knowledgeable & Primed (28%): This group expresses a strong belief in the benefits of CBD and their curiosity to learn more makes them the most likely group to become consumers in the next six months.
- Informed & Indifferent (19%): A wide exposure to CBD products does not translate to intent to purchase, potentially due to this group’s lack of awareness regarding CBD’s beneficial properties.
- Cautious & Curious (10%): Despite a strong curiosity towards CBD products, they remain apprehensive about the safety and legality of them.
Overall, 34% of non-consumers are curious about trying CBD products—which could yield significant growth for the cannabis industry in the coming years.
A New Successor to the Throne
The recent COVID-19 outbreak has also sparked major discussion around the use of cannabis. Some parts of the world have declared it as “essential”, as consumers use products to alleviate pandemic-fuelled anxiety, which has resulted in a huge sales boost for the industry.
This will likely translate to Europe, where almost half of CBD consumers claim its therapeutic benefits are their primary reason for use.
The reality is that the potential for European cannabis growth is significant, and to achieve this, both consumer and non-consumer motivations should be considered.
Visualizing the Huge Potential of Minor Cannabinoids
While the broader cannabis market is estimated to reach $45B by 2024, we’ve only scratched the surface in harnessing the potential of minor cannabinoids.
The Huge Potential of Minor Cannabinoids
Hemp and marijuana are increasingly recognized for their exciting investment potential.
Due to their growing list of health benefits, the dominant conversation tends to center around the most abundant cannabinoids—cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). As a result, the cannabinoid market is estimated to reach almost $45 billion by 2024.
But CBD and THC are just two cannabinoids out of over a hundred that have been discovered to date. Today’s graphic from Trait Biosciences explores the hidden potential of the lesser-known minor cannabinoids, and illustrates how they fare in comparison to their major counterparts.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in both hemp and marijuana that mimic compounds found in the human endocannabinoid system. This system is made up of a network of receptors that are involved in physiological processes like mood and memory.
When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids interact with these receptors and produce different effects depending on the receptors they bind to. Although over a hundred cannabinoids have been found, they are not all created equally. They are typically divided into two categories:
- Major cannabinoids: More plentiful
- Minor cannabinoids: Less plentiful
Regardless of whether a cannabinoid is categorized as major or minor, every cannabinoid starts out as a form of CBG.
CBG-A: The Mother of All Cannabinoids
Cannabigerolic acid, or as it is more commonly known, CBG-A, is the acid precursor to other cannabinoid acids such as THC-A, and CBD-A. When the acids are exposed to heat, or prolonged UV light, they convert to neutral cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.
While CBG is regarded as a minor cannabinoid, it boasts a wide range of benefits that are urging researchers and scientists to take notice:
- Fights inflammation
- Soothes pain
- Reduces nausea
- Slows the spread of cancer cells
- Helps treat glaucoma
CBG could be hugely beneficial in treating a wide variety of diseases, but it’s just one of many minor cannabinoids that could potentially blow CBD and THC out of the water.
The Potential of Minor Cannabinoids
To date, there has been limited research into the power of minor cannabinoids. However, the results from preliminary research look incredibly promising.
|Cannabinoid||Type||Examples of potential medical application|
|Major, psychoactive||Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, autoimmune diseases|
|Major, non-psychoactive||Epilepsy, schizophrenia|
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Metabolic disorders, colon cancer
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases, nausea, appetite loss
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting (CINV), depression|
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Fungal diseases
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Crohn’s disease, bowel disease, certain cancers
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Seizure prevention, Rett syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD)|
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Osteoporosis, ALS, Muscular dystrophy|
|Minor, non-psychoactive||Could inhibit growth of cancer cells, osteoarthritis, neurological diseases
|Minor, psychoactive||Diabetes, anxiety, PTSD
|Minor, psychoactive||Bacterial infections, ALS ,appetite stimulant
Note: Any potential medical treatment listed here stems from preclinical/animal testing only, and is simply intended to illustrate the potential application of each cannabinoid rather than a proven benefit.
Scientists also recently discovered two new cannabinoids—THC-P and CBD-P—with research showing that THC-P could potentially be 30 times more potent than THC.
The Future of Minor Cannabinoids
FDA-approved CBD drug Epidiolex has sparked a rising interest in minor cannabinoid trials.
In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has committed to providing funding to strengthen the evidence for minor cannabinoids and their pain relieving properties.
Cannabinoids could also add great value to cancer treatment-related side effects, however, more research is needed to turn potential into proof. With the availability of more robust evidence, the potential medical applications for minor cannabinoids could be much greater than we can imagine.
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