Cannabis Dispensary Insights: 2021 Cannabis Consumer Trends

by Sep 16, 2021Cannabis Industry

Home » Cannabis Industry » Cannabis Dispensary Insights: 2021 Cannabis Consumer Trends

Follow Us

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

With around $1.4 billion in taxable cannabis sales in the second quarter of this year, the marijuana 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 marijuana consumers, as well as the products they’re purchasing. We want your cannabis dispensary or brand to reach or exceed its potential and stay on top of the competitive landscape. Each successful organization in CBD and/or 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 marijuana 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 marijuana 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 than the other generations. Cannabis executives should take note of presenting more conveniently smokable marijuana 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 in the legal marijuana market. To them, it’s more about sampling different products. For CBD and 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

Female Cannabis Consumers Rising: More Women Buying Cannabis

Another segment to look at when it comes to cannabis consumers is women. The cannabis market is more attractive to women in the past year, especially with more cannabis legalization in several states. They make up one-third of marijuana buyers. Additionally, 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 CBD or cannabis business executive, it’s also good to note that the number of women trying THC products 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 are 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 for the cannabis industry. They consume cannabis a few times a week and tend to lean toward using edibles and cannabis-infused beverages. This particular consumer archetype will head to a dispensary a least once a month, and a majority of them (58%) are legal cannabis consumers.   

Also, there are the canna-curious. Since cannabis legalization is becoming more and more common–with many states planning to legalize adult-use cannabis in the next  few years–people curious about marijuana are turning into consumers. Cannabis brands should definitely keep the canna-curious in mind as well.

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. Not to mention, they can get used to the common side effects from weed more comfortably by micro-dosing. 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 in the cannabis market. 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, beverages infused with THC 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 in the cannabis market, coming in as the second highest-grossing items at cannabis dispensaries.   

The cannabis industry (along with the CBD space) will continue to produce new, unique products. 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. With cannabis legalization in the works in more states–getting us closer to federal legalization–there will be more opportunities to innovate, leading to more consumer evolution.

More About the Cannabis Industry:

Skip to content