In every sector of culture and society, a shift towards greater diversity is moving the needle on what, and who is considered “typical”. This is as true in the realm of cannabis consumption as anywhere else, with the stereotype of surfer dude stoners and glazed and confused couch potatoes making way for women as the fastest-growing segment of cannabis consumers. Manufacturers are paying close attention to what these women want and how best to reach them with thoughtful branding, high levels of customer service, product design, and the retail experience. Not only are women increasingly driving cannabis sales, but they are also shifting their consumer behavior in ways that are pushing the industry to get more creative and innovative in meeting their demands—a trend that cannabis technology company Akerna (NASDAQ: KERN) highlights in its mid-year report.
According to Akerna’s report, “Since 2019, females have steadily increased their percentage of sales, a total of 3.2%. While that may seem like a low number, it’s actually a significant change considering the vast numbers of cannabis consumers – over 15 million have purchased in 2021 so far.” Their market share, which in 2019 was 35% is now 38.2% and growing. Additionally, for the first time ever, concentrates have overtaken edibles in popularity among younger women, a change attributed to decreased stigma and increased consumer education. Previously, edibles held third place in female product preferences with concentrates in fourth, but that has changed since 2020 with 10.2% of women reporting a preference for concentrates over 8.9% who prefer edibles. Flower is still the favorite product among female consumers with 44% still ranking it their top choice, but the industry is watching this closely as new product innovations inspire new allegiances.
In Akerna’s report, 27.53% of female consumers fall into the under 30 category and 29.40% are between 30 and 40 years old, with both demographics preferring flower, cartridges, and concentrates in that order. Both age categories placed infused edibles and “Other” in fourth and fifth place. For these women, cartridges lead concentrates by 20% or more, with edibles roughly half as popular as concentrates. Edibles still beat out concentrates for the 13.6% of female purchasers in the 50-60 age range and the 10.33% falling into the 60+ category. The strongest showing for edibles was in the oldest demographic (60+ women) studied, with 18.39% preferring edibles and only 5.31% concentrates.
The trend in younger consumers leaning more towards concentrates and elders remaining loyal to edibles holds up in the male demographic as well, though this isn’t attracting as much notice from the industry as the rise of women consumers. Although Akerna’s mid-year report has men still accounting for 61.8% of cannabis sales, women are closing that gap at a steady pace and challenging the industry to up its game in order to compete for their business.