Knowing how to appeal to the cannabis customer base is more complex than ever. Despite a plethora of options – concentrates, edibles, tinctures, topicals, vaporizer cartridges, capsules, infused beverages, et al. – cannabis flower continues to be the most popular choice. One of the more daunting challenges is the diversity of cannabis consumers. A consumer’s cannabis choice can be affected by aroma, convenience, ease of use, effect, extraction methods, familiarity, potency, price, taste, terpenes & secondary cannabinoids, et al.
For industry executives, effectively marketing each of these options poses unique challenges and opportunities. Ann DeMarco is general manager at Highland Health, a recreational marijuana store in Trinidad, Colorado. She’s seen her customer base become more sophisticated and informed.
“There’s so much information available now to consumers that they come in already with a lot of knowledge,” said DeMarco. “Consumers become more sophisticated more quickly than a few years ago because budtenders are better educated about products than before and can pass that knowledge on to consumers…we have consumers coming in telling us about products we haven’t heard of. They ask about extraction methods, or if we carry the edibles with the new fast-acting nanotechnology.”
Data also shows that Millennials lead total sales with 51.5% generationally. Sales to Gen Z seemingly lags well behind at 5.9% but is almost double from the previous year. But these numbers are further complicated by an ongoing gender imbalance. Males show much greater interest in purchasing recreational products – up to 67% of flower products and 70% of concentrates. Women lead sales of cannabis products for health and wellness. They buy nearly half of all capsules, edibles, tinctures, and topicals. In general, females spend 66% more on CBD products.
An exciting trend is that many consumers use cannabis as an alcohol replacement. Called Cali Sober, the movement has grown a lot of traction among younger demographic groups who prefer cannabis products over alcohol. Several reasons are cited: It’s almost impossible to consume dangerous amounts of marijuana, has no carbs or calories (aside from edibles, presumably), and doesn’t cause hangovers.
Recent data shows that most consumers don’t use cannabis daily, but the number of social occasions for using cannabis is growing. And while concerts have always been a popular event for cannabis, surveys show consumers now enjoying cannabis on camping trips and during daily household chores. But using while relaxing at home is still the most popular occasion.
The demographics of cannabis consumers are more nuanced and varied than any other target group. Successful cannabis marketers will need to understand how to make consumers feel good about their choices and help them connect to their place in the cannabis community.