Understanding the cannabis consumer is a hard, but undeniably important, job. In an industry growing at such a rapid pace to meet an unprecedented level of demand, cannabis industry professionals are looking for consumer-level data more than ever.
It’s important to understand why a person is consuming cannabis to understand how to create and market a product that directly speaks to their wants and needs.
Here’s an example. Imagine you were walking through an aisle in your local pharmacy looking for something to help you with nausea. Now imagine the very best nausea medicine is only being marketed for heartburn, so it never even crosses your mind as a viable option. You miss out on the best medicine for your needs and the brand misses out on a new customer, all because the company didn’t use consumer data to shape their branding and marketing efforts.
New Frontier Data’s 2017 Cannabis Perceptions Survey helps shed a bit of light on why people are choosing cannabis. Their findings tell us a couple things: 1) brands can benefit from understand the wide variety of uses for cannabis and 2) this long list of reasons could affect legalization.
Why do people consume cannabis?
The top reason people cited for using cannabis is relaxation, followed by stress relief; enhancing a social experience; reducing anxiety; and improving sleep quality. Some of the lesser cited reasons include “stimulating creativity (16%); treating a medical condition (15%); increasing focus and attention (9%); enhancing meditation or religious experiences (7%); and improving exercise or training performances (5%).”
That is a long and varied list of reasons. With so many people finding cannabis an efficient aid in so many different use cases, it may be smart for cannabis brands and marketers to start honing in on their messaging.
If a brand knows their product works really well for relaxation and it’s a top-cited reason people consume cannabis, it’s a safe bet to target your marketing for that use. You don’t want to miss potential customers discovering your awesome and effective product because your brand’s messaging was slightly off.
Another interesting takeaway from the survey discusses gender differences. Women are “significantly more likely than men to consume cannabis to relieve stress (+7%), to reduce anxiety (+13%), to manage pain (+8%) and to improve sleep (+10%).”
Knowing which gender is more likely to buy your product can also inform your branding when it comes to voice, color scheme, design and typography.
Does this mean anything for legalization?
It’s obviously impossible to know exactly if, when and how cannabis legalization will happen. But you can reasonably extrapolate a few conclusions from this cannabis survey that may affect legalization efforts.
First, this survey shows cannabis is being used for a wide variety of reasons and people are finding it effective at aiding all of them. The more uses for cannabis, the larger the pool of potential cannabis supporters.
Approval ratings for legalizing medical cannabis are at a 47-year high, a clear sign that perception towards cannabis is quickly changing. This could be a result of the sheer population size that have, or would if legalized in their state, found cannabis as an effective product for a laundry list of uses.
On the other hand, it’s important to realize the powerful industries that may be threatened by cannabis’ many recreational and medicinal uses. Three specific industries that stand to be adversely affected by legalizing cannabis are tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals. We’ve already seen these strong industries, with even stronger lobbying power, invest money into opposing legalization efforts.
The odds that these industries will be able to fend off the growing support for legal cannabis forever are slim to none, but their ability to slow down the process is much more likely.
This post was originally published on June 21, 2017, it was updated on October 5, 2017.