As cannabis dispensaries sprout and grow across the nation and we inch closer to federal legalization every year, more and more people are siding with the marijuana plant. In fact, cannabis has grown in popularity so much that Americans purchased more marijuana than Starbucks Coffee last year, even though the caffeine juggernaut’s beverages can be sold in all 50 states. Additionally, global cannabis sales for 2022 is predicted to break $35 billion–which is a 22% increase compared to 2021 sales. And as the cannabis industry grows and changes, so do the products and consumer preferences. Therefore, every cannabis business should look at and study cannabis consumer trends.
We’ve gathered the latest data on cannabis consumer trends so that your company can make the adjustments to stay ahead of the curve. Our team wants your cannabis dispensary or brand to stay competitive in the ever-growing marijuana landscape. Every successful cannabis business adds to our collective community goal of being one of the best industries ever. Let’s dive in!
Cannabis Dispensary Favorites: Vapes and Pre-rolls
When it comes to popular cannabis products at dispensaries, vapes and pre-roll joints take some of the top spots. According to Headset, vape pens were the second-largest category by revenue in the U.S. market from 2020 to 2021, racking up plenty of sales for cannabis dispensaries. Vapes took in close to $2.6 billion (about $8 per cannabis consumer in the U.S.) in 2021 retail sales in California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington, placing it right behind flower.
Special pre-rolls that are trending—like infused pre-rolls—are the segment to keep an eye on in 2022. Additionally, pre-roll packs are also popular with cannabis consumers, and it may be partially due to the packaging and presentation that is similar to cigarettes. With plenty of people on the go, the popularity of high-potency pre-rolls makes sense. Vapes and pre-rolls experienced exceptional year-over-year growth overall: vapor pens are up 28.1% and pre-rolls by 38.9% from 2020. Cannabis dispensaries may benefit greatly from stocking up on the latest vapes and pre-rolls. They’re convenient, discreet, and easy to use for the canna-curious.
Cannabis Dispensary Shopping: Cannabis Potency & Portability
As the industry evolves, so do the cannabis consumers. With marijuana courses being offered in several universities and plenty of free online guides available, people are developing better knowledge about cannabis. Long gone are the days of buying weed in parking lots. Shoppers now have more sophisticated knowledge about cannabis, looking for potent, innovative products. For example, infused pre-rolls can reach THC potency levels in the 40% to 50 % range, which the flower by itself cannot accomplish. Additionally, cannabis consumers are also considering terpenes, aroma, and aesthetic. Consumers are not just looking at what detail anymore, but analyzing the product as a whole.
Since many people are on-the-go, portable cannabis products, such as pre-rolls, vapes, and cannabis-infused beverages are getting more attention. They are discreet and easy to consume, making them convenient for pairing with various activities. Gummies are also evolving in the industry, as nanomolecular technology has been introduced for a faster high. For example, Kanha’s NANO 5 mg gummies are rapid onset cannabis edibles that only take an average of 10 to 15 minutes to start working.
Social Gatherings & Cannabis Products
During the early days of the pandemic in 2020, the cannabis industry was deemed essential. However, cannabis products were mostly enjoyed solo during the lockdown. Now, with the proper adjustments, things are opening up again. Looking at what form of cannabis people prefer in social gatherings, 57% of respondents said edibles and cannabis-infused beverages were their top options. Right behind edibles was cannabis flower followed by vape and tincture.
New Frontier Data’s Chief Knowledge Officer John Kagia stated, “consumer demand remains essentially recession-proof.” From CBD coffee to THC infused spices, cannabis product innovation shows no signs of slowing down. Cannabis consumption lounges are also something to keep an eye on, as there are quite a few more set to open in states like Michigan and California. If consumption lounges become just as popular as bars or breweries, the product landscape may diversify even more. Not to mention, cannabis consumption lounges may increase the opportunities for partnerships with existing restaurants and dispensaries. Keep an eye on consumption lounges and how they affect cannabis consumer trends in the future.
Massive Cannabis Consumer Support for Social Equity Brands
Cannabis consumers are showing incredible support for brands that invest in social equity. From 2020 to 2021 year-over-year (YOY), there was an 89% increase in first-time social equity customers. Additionally, there was a 72% YOY increase between 2020 and 2021 in the dollar value of cannabis goods sold for social equity brands. It is likely that cannabis consumers will continue to embrace social equity cannabis brands throughout 2022 and beyond.
The top social equity sales months were September (Hispanic Heritage Month), April (420 and Ramadan), May (AAPI Heritage Month), October (Hispanic Heritage Month—second half), and August (Women’s Equity Day). The TikTok Generation, which consists of Gen Z and younger Millennials, make up the largest share of cannabis sales from social equity cannabis brands. Consumers from the ages of 21 to 30 years old made up 42% of social equity sales in 2021. Additionally, cannabis consumers from the ages of 31 to 40 years old made up 36% of social equity 2021 sales.
Cannabis Industry Trends
Most of the new cannabis customers in 2021 were Millennials at 44.6%. Right behind them were Gen Z ( 25.5%) and Gen X (24.3%). When it comes to each generation’s favorite cannabis product, edibles are the number one choice for Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers. Additionally, women continue to buy more cannabis, which has been an ongoing trend. Cannabis sales to female customers increased by 55%.
According to a report by Headset, the market share for cannabis flower is in decline. The 2021 YOY category market share growth for flower is –6%. As cannabis flower is ending up in fewer dispensary baskets, cannabis drinks are slowly landing in more baskets. The average cannabis beverage basket penetration in the U.S. almost doubled from January 2020 to December 2021, increasing from 2% to 3.7%. Overall, market share growth in the U.S. has increased in the following cannabis categories: beverages, capsules, pre-rolls, and vape pens.
Cannabis Product Information
Most consumers want labels with thorough cannabis product information and testing results. According to SICPA North America, 83% of cannabis consumers want retailers to provide verified certificates to show their products were tested for safety and potency by legitimate laboratories. Furthermore, close to 80% of cannabis users want to know about any prior product recalls.
In a recent study, close to 90,000 samples across six states had labels that were not useful and did not present the “observed chemical diversity.” When consumers head to cannabis dispensaries, they would like to have more comprehensive breakdowns of terpenes and not just THC levels. They want to know what’s in the cannabis they’re purchasing with a label similar to the FDA’s nutrition fact panel. Not only will more accurate labels strengthen customer loyalty and trust in a brand or cannabis dispensary, but it will also help them learn what strains work best for their needs.
Cannabis Dispensary Consumer Trends: Takeaways
- Portable and discreet cannabis products (vapes, pre-rolls, drinks, etc.) are growing in popularity.
- More potent products–like infused pre-rolls—are getting more attention.
- Social equity cannabis brands are gaining tons of support.
- Consumption lounges are starting to pop up in more places.
- Millennials and females make up a lot of the new customers in the market.
- Most customers want better cannabis product information on labels about potency, testing, etc.