By Anthony Bratti, West Region President, LOCALiQ
The cannabis industry today is characterized by rapid growth and a degree of unpredictability as it faces issues including legality, stigma, and all the challenges that come with offering a product never before mass-retailed.
Dispensaries and other key market players have long been operating in the dark when it comes to their customers. With little data around the attributes and lifestyles of their target consumer, the new industry has a long way to go when considering marketing opportunities.
In order to shed light on the best marketing practices for this burgeoning industry, we surveyed over 8,000 consumers between the ages of 21 and 64, in the 21 states where cannabis is currently legal to create LOCALiQ’s Canna Curious Report. The report reveals the lifestyle attributes, shopping behaviors, consumption motivators and brand selection drivers for the industry’s top customer segments. The surveyed individuals were split into two groups, current consumers and acceptors.
Here are the key segments of consumers that industry companies should pay particular attention to impress:
Affluent Families with Children
We found that affluent families with children under the age of 18 were an active cannabis consumption group. Spending over $623 million on cannabis-related products, this group has the potential to grow to a market worth over $1 billion.
In this segment, dads were typically the more active purchasers, shopping at more than 4 dispensaries in the past 3 months, while moms tended to be more brand loyal and shop at the same dispensary.
The data supports that to impress this segment, dispensaries should focus on offering a wide variety of products, as well as prioritizing price and convenience.
Baby boomers were another top consumption group, with the majority of those surveyed going to a dispensary monthly, and 60 percent of non-consuming boomers more likely to consider it than millennials.
To reach this customer segment, companies will likely have the most success maintaining strong websites, advertising in newspapers, and creating online videos as these are top discovery sources for the baby boomer group.
The top motivator for usage in this group is strongly tied to health and pain management, with 58 percent of baby boomer respondents displaying a preference for alternative medicine.
The frequent shopper group is more diverse in demographics than our previous two categories, but has the most focused purchasing pattern, with most shopping at a dispensary 3-4 times per month. The frequent shopper group boasts the highest spending but tends to be the least loyal, easily swayed to competitors due to price, product variety and staff friendliness.
Promotions are more likely to be impactful with this segment, as 62 percent indicated receiving notifications of promotions through news sites and email or text message.
Defined as current non-users who are open to cannabis consumption in legal states, this group spans many demographics. These cannabis curious consumers cited reasonable prices, a good selection of products/strains, and friendly and helpful staff as their top brand selection drivers.
As dispensaries become more established in cannabis-legal states and competition intensifies, it’ll be more important than ever for sellers to understand their consumer, whose preferences vary widely by segment. For example, while a frequent millennial buyer may be well-targeted through personalized text message or email promotions, a baby boomer is much more likely to consult their local news for a trusted recommendation.
To grow alongside the quickly expanding industry, cannabis businesses should work to prioritize legal, digital marketing, storytelling, and target marketing expertise, to continue to attract and retain customers.
Anthony Bratti is the Regional President – West for the USA TODAY NETWORK/LOCALiQ. In this role, Anthony leads and supports the west coast sales teams as they drive digital advertising and strengthen relationships with local businesses. Anthony’s success as a leader and executive is rooted in nearly 20 years of global business experience ranging from early-stage start-ups to mid-level enterprises and Fortune 50 companies, as well as local community involvement. He is actively involved in the greater Phoenix economic development group and Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to joining the USA TODAY NETWORK, Anthony enjoyed a long, global career at AT&T where he served both domestic and international markets, served as the SVP of Business Development at Buzzboard, and most recently, as the Head of Channel Sales at ReachLocal. His vast experience, deep knowledge of digital media, and innovative thinking make Anthony one of the most transformational sales and marketing leaders within the USA TODAY NETWORK.