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Defining the New Cannabis Consumer



The following content is sponsored by Tenacious Labs

Defining The New Cannabis Consumer

The cannabis industry is transforming, and so too are its consumers.

As they edge further into the mainstream, cannabis companies will need to fight for the consumer’s dollar—not just against other cannabis brands, but also against a number of other industries in the discretionary spending sphere.

This graphic from Tenacious Labs looks at key data that will help us define the new cannabis consumer and explores how cannabis industry sales compare to adjacent discretionary spending industries.

Competing for the Cannabis Consumer Dollar

Roughly 12% of Americans consume cannabis which translates roughly into $60 billion in sales. While these figures are mostly made up of the illicit market, it’s forecasted that the legal industry’s footprint will come to represent the majority of the market.

Let’s take a look at how some of the most popular discretionary spending industries compare to cannabis.

IndustryU.S. Industry Sales 2020/2021 ($B)
Recreational Cannabis including Illicit$60.0B
Craft Beer$27.8B
Recreational and Medical Cannabis$20.0B
National Football League$12.0B
Movie Theatre Tickets$12.0B
Frozen Pizza$4.4B
Hard Seltzer$4.1B
Paid Music Streaming Services$2.5B

The recreational and medical cannabis industry sits just below the craft beer space, which generates $27 billion a year.

However, with cannabis consumption rates trending upwards and alcohol consumption falling, it’s likely the cannabis industry will experience a larger share within the overall consumer discretionary spending sector over time.

The New Cannabis Consumer’s Changing Preferences

The cannabis industry serves millions of new consumers every year. From 2009 to 2019, the number of users grew by almost 20 million. And the data suggests that these consumers come from all walks of life. Therefore, the new cannabis consumer is diverse, rather than just one persona. With the upward trajectory the industry is facing, it’s as crucial as ever to understand the modern day consumer.

Let’s take a look at some key trends that stem from demographic data.

Consumers by Income

When looking at how income affects cannabis consumers’ decisions, there appears to be a notable split in product preference. To elaborate, consumers who earn an annual income less than $49,000 are 20% more likely to consume flower, and 39% more likely to consume pre-rolls. These are seen as traditional or old school consumption methods, and rank high amongst the popularity of products.

Alternatively, higher income consumers who earn over $100,000 a year appear to gravitate towards more healthy, modern, and innovative avenues. They are 4x more likely to consume capsules, and 3x more likely to consumer cannabis-infused beverages.

Consumers by Generation and Gender

By gender, 53% of consumers are male, while 47% are female. But when dividing this up by THC and CBD dominant products, the split grows further apart. Some 60% of THC dominant product purchases come from males, while 60% of women prefer CBD.

Here’s how consumers breakdown by generation according to the Cannabis Consumers Report:

GenerationCannabis Industry by Generation
Gen Z20%
Gen X23%
Baby Boomer13%

Interestingly, not only are millennials the largest segment as consumers, they’re also more likely to invest in cannabis companies than other demographic groups.

Consumers by Consumption Preferences and Frequency

Today’s modern consumers are hungry for more information and are always seeking greater insights. Polls show that plenty of consumers do research before purchasing, and some of the most important attributes when selecting cannabis include the product strain (35%) and THC dosage (34%).

By frequency, here’s how cannabis users consumption breaks down.

Frequency RateCannabis Use By Frequency
2 times a day36%
Once a day14%
3-4 times a week12%
2-3 times a week10%
1-2 times a week9%
Once a month18%

What’s more, consumers say that local products, trust in the company, and the dispensary environment are important factors in the decision making process for them.

Tying it All Together

Like in any other industry, it pays to know your customers. As innovation, legislation, and societal acceptance continue making considerable strides, consumers, as well as the industry’s place in the discretionary spending sector, will undoubtedly evolve further.

In the next part of the Future of Cannabis Series, we will explore the Untapped Potential of CBD.

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