Cannabis Dispensary Insights: 2021 Cannabis Consumer Trends

by Sep 16, 2021Cannabis Industry

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The cannabis industry has grown tremendously since Colorado and Washington legalized adult-use cannabis in 2012. As the cannabis industry grows, it has seen success unlike any other space. Along with the industry, cannabis consumers have evolved as well.  

With around $1.4 billion in taxable cannabis sales in the second quarter of this year, the industry is looking greener. To help your budding cannabis business stay ahead of the curve, we dove into the latest cannabis consumer trends. We took a look at the top cannabis consumers, as well as the products they’re purchasing. We want your cannabis dispensary or brand to reach or exceed its potential. Each successful organization in cannabis is a building block toward creating the best industry ever.  

Gen Z cannabis consumers

Fastest-Growing Cannabis Consumers: Gen Z  

Born between the late 1990s and mid-2000s, Generation Z was the first to grow up in a digital world. Furthermore, they are the first generation to reach adulthood with cannabis legal in many states in the nation, and the stigma starting to fade, priming them to become regular cannabis consumers. According to Headset, a cannabis data firm, Gen Z is the fastest-growing segment of cannabis customers. The report states that 2020 sales among Gen Z cannabis consumers skyrocketed by 127%. In comparison, sales among millennials increased by 46% and Gen X by 29%.   

Not only does Gen Z stand out from the pack in terms of cannabis sales growth, but they also present different buying patterns from other generations. Gen Z cannabis consumers mostly grab pre-roll joints and buy concentrates more so than the other generations. Cannabis executives should take note of presenting more conveniently smokable cannabis to cater to Gen Z’s preferences. The tricky part about Gen Z cannabis consumers is that they do not tend to be loyal to brands. To them, it’s more about sampling different products. For cannabis executives, it would be beneficial to rotate the inventory to keep it attractive to this particular group. New and innovative products should be emphasized in your cannabis dispensary more so than usual to hold the attention of Gen Z customers. 

women cannabis consumers

More Women Buying Cannabis 

Another segment to look at when it comes to cannabis consumers is women. More women are entering the cannabis market in the past year, making up one-third of cannabis buyers. Women make up 33.6% of cannabis consumers, which is almost a full percentage point increase in comparison to last year. Although that’s not a tremendous jump, it may have a significant impact since women shop for cannabis products differently at a cannabis dispensary. Women tend to buy non-flower cannabis products more than men; however, they are still buying flower. They’re also filling their carts up with beverages, topicals, tinctures, and vape pens (in a few states).   

If you’re a cannabis business executive, it’s also good to note that the number of women trying cannabis is increasing. There have been higher growth rates in cannabis sales for women in every generation. Since 2019, women have increased their cannabis product purchases by 3.2%. Now that more and more states are legalizing adult-use cannabis, the packaging and promotion of these items are more retail-friendly, which may make them attractive to canna-curious women. According to a report by Akerna, 27.35% of female cannabis consumers are under 30 years old, and 29.4% are between the ages of 30 and 40 years old. However, there are still female cannabis buyers between 50 and 60 years old, and their preferred cannabis product is edibles.   

cannabis dispensary consumer archetypes

Cannabis Consumer Types at a Cannabis Dispensary  

When thinking about cannabis consumers, you can break them down into archetypes. New Frontier Data—the premier cannabis business intelligence organization—analyzed the different cannabis consumer archetypes in a recent report. The following are the top five cannabis consumers: 

  • Infrequent Users (16%)
  • Classic Smokers (15%)
  • Modern Medicinals(13%) 
  • Engaged Explorers (10%)
  • Contemporary Lifestylers(9%) 

The largest cannabis consumer type is labeled infrequent users. They are open-minded enough to smoke cannabis but do not dig into the newer products often or at all. Additionally, they are usually an older crowd (55 years old and up). Most of the time, infrequent users will grab cannabis from a friend, so targeting them wouldn’t be recommended for a cannabis dispensary. Classic smokers tend to buy from friends as well and use cannabis to relax or socialize. Although these are the top two cannabis consumers, it may be more beneficial to target others on the list to strengthen your cannabis business plan. As a cannabis business executive, contemporary lifestylers are ones you should have on your radar. They use cannabis daily, spend around $75 on cannabis per month, and have favorite dispensaries but enjoy exploring other retailers. Furthermore, they tend to use cannabis for relaxation and stress relief. And, 100% are legal cannabis consumers. Engaged explorers may also be an archetype worth targeting. They consume cannabis a few times a week and tend to lean toward using edibles and cannabis-infused beverages. This particular archetype will head to a dispensary a least once a month, and a majority of them (58%) are legal cannabis consumers.   

cannabis beverages

Cannabis Beverages Should Be Part of Your Cannabis Business Plan 

Targeting the canna-curious, cannabis dispensaries stocked up on cannabis/CBD beverages. For new consumers, a cannabis drink is a perfect way to try THC for the first time. Cannabis-infused beverages work faster than edibles, giving most people a buzz within 10-15 minutes. They’re also easy to micro-dose if you’re new and want to utilize the edibles rule: start low, go slow. And, they’re a familiar way of consumption, especially coming off the success of spiked seltzers.   

Compared to 2019, marijuana-infused drink sales increased by 40.3% in the following adult-use markets: California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Sales bumped up from $67.8 million in 2019 to $95.2 million in 2020. Although the cannabis drink market is a small portion of the cannabis product pool, sales continue to grow. In early 2021, cannabis drinks are trending up with a 1.2% year-to-date. Overall, cannabis beverages attract the canna-curious, those who want to live a healthier lifestyle—using it as an alcohol substitute, and people who do not like waiting for edibles to kick in.   

best-selling cannabis dispensary products

Cannabis Business Executive Note: Best Selling Products 

There are a ton of cannabis products taking up shelf space right now, so it can be a chore to determine which ones are popular at the moment. Yes, cannabis-infused beverages are climbing in popularity, and plenty of products are emerging, like cannabis ice cream, but flower still remains the most popular. According to Happy Cabbage Analytics, flower and pre-rolls took up the first and third place spots when they researched sales earlier this year. However, vapes and concentrates also proved to be popular products, coming in as the second highest-grossing items at cannabis dispensaries.   

Although flower is still king in cannabis, the cannabis edibles market is seeing an upward trend. Since more edibles can be produced with a shorter turnaround time, this would be quite beneficial for cannabis executives. A rise in popularity for cannabis edibles may be attributed to health concerns about sharing joints and gear to smoke flower. It may also be trending upward as a result of consumers transitioning from concentrates. Taking the time to analyze the ever-changing trends of cannabis consumers and products they are buying will surely benefit the refinement of your cannabis business plan.   

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