The Power of the Cannabis Audience & Consumer

What ever your thoughts on the use of cannabis and it’s legalization, the hard truth is it does not matter, especially if you think it is wrong. You can’t fight human behavior. People will use cannabis whether it is legal or not. However, the fact that legalization has been increasing at a rapid pace in the U.S and even faster globally, shows us that the cannabis audience and consumer can’t be ignored. Celebrities like Martha Stewart, Seth Rogan, Snoop Dog, Jay-Z and others have been flocking to create cannabis brands. Plus, dispensaries were deemed an essential business at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic making 2020 a big year for cannabis. A recent report from AdAge speaks to the importance of this growing audience for brands. In this article i’m going to explore some of the findings in the report and explain what they mean for brands.

adage cannabis audience report
AdAge Cannabis Report

U.S cannabis usage statistics

Here are some statistics from the MRI-Simmons study cited in the AdAge report: 

  • 50% increase in cannabis consumption since 2018
  • 61 million U.S. adults now use cannabis—that’s 24% of
    the total adult population, or about one in four people—and daily usage is up 15% from 2019 alone. 
  • 25% of that 61 million (15 million people) use CBD, the non-psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant that is known to alleviate stress and en- courage relaxation.
  • 43% (26 million people)—use THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the more traditional high. 
  • 20 million people—around 33% of U.S. adults—report using both.

This shows us that the cannabis and CBD audiences in the U.S are growing rapidly. These are audiences where little data was collected on so it was hard for brands to target.

Like stats? Check out these cannabis industry statistics.

What is the cannabis audience?

The cannabis audience is no longer the stereotypical hippie or “loser” stoner who has no job and lives in their mom’s basement. 

The cannabis audience are:

  • Working professional (Doctors, lawyers, advertisers, investors etc)
  • Very active
  • Tech savvy
  • Digital first
  • Like to take care of themselves with a focus on health and wellness products
  • Enjoy having a good time
  • And probably hungry

46 million cannabis consumers spend on self-care and wellness; 29 million throw down at fun, group-friendly restaurants (dining in or takeout).

MRI-Simmons Study

The cannabis audience likes to eat

The one fact about cannabis that everyone knows is that when you smoke weed you get hungry aka “the Munchies”. The study reflects this and show that the cannabis audiences loves to eat and go to restaurants.

What’s this mean for brands and advertisers?

If you are a food brand like:

  • Doritos
  • Campbells
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Hersey
  • Oreo
  • Etc…

Or a restaurants like:

  • Chipotle
  • Taco Bell
  • Dominos
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • Shake Shack
  • Subway
  • Etc…

You should be targeting this audience and adverting on sites like Flavor Fix, Leafly, WeedMaps etc that are a daily destination for this audience.

Brand’s like Denny’s, Slim Jim, Ben & Jerry and others have used 4/20 (the unofficial cannabis holiday) to tap into this audience by launching cannabis marketing campaigns.

You can also use cannabis themes to name your products. For example Ben & Jerry has an ice cream flavor called Half Baked. Named after the cult classic Half Baked movie about weed.

There is a big opportunity for food brands to leverage marijuana strain names like:

Brands like Ben & Jerry have gone a step further in their support and embrace of this audience. They have taken on the fight for cannabis reform in a very active way. They have been blunt about cannabis justice since before 2019. People love them for this and will support their brand as a result.

The cannabis audience likes to drink alcohol

Cannabis consumers love to drink alcohol. Again you can’t stop human behavior. 

21 million buy top-quality beer, wine and spirits, especially whiskey—and that’s just a few examples.

MRI-Simmons Study

The slang for the consumption of cannabis and alcohol at the same time is called getting Cross Faded. This usually has a bad connotation but as people grow up so does how they consume these things. Some people find it very relaxing to have a glass of wine and a toke after a long week at work. This is a big opportunity for alcohol brands. They can target cannabis and CBD audiences on websites where they frequent as mentioned before. 

They can also create new cannabis or CBD infused beverages to get into the market. The cannabis and CBD infused market is growing and in the early stages. 

There is going to be a rush for market share and those who get in early will be the ones who win.

The point

The cannabis and CBD audiences are growing. Brands need to embrace this and market to this audiences. Those who do will reap the benefits.

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