This week Weedmaps (NASDAQ: MAPS) releases “Cannabis in America”, a first-of-its-kind data and insights report on the cannabis marketplace, industry trends, and cultural revelations. This report represents a major step forward in Weedmaps’ intention to become an essential resource of direct-from-consumer data for policy makers, business owners, and investors. The report highlights topics such as the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic and social justice movement on the cannabis industry as well as a strong trend of cannabis category experimentation, among other topics. The report also highlights the continuing trend of legalization across the country and a corresponding market growth that shows no signs of slowing down.
Millenial Consumption Increased 57%
“Cannabis in America” shows that cannabis consumers are using and ordering more cannabis than ever before, with more than half increasing their consumption since the start of the pandemic. Generation Z was a particular stand-out demographic, increasing their consumption 125% year-over-year with overall cannabis deliver increasing by 97%. Millennials increased their consumption of cannabis by 57% since the start of the pandemic, placing them just one percentage point behind Gen Zers in increased consumption since the WHO declared Coronavirus a pandemic in March 2020, with Generation X not far behind at 52%. But it’s not only who is consuming cannabis that is significant, but what is being consumed. Weedmaps’ data point to a belief among 47% of cannabis consumers that edibles are becoming more popular, with Vape pends and Topicals not far behind. Millennials appear to be driving demand for products across all categories with a slight preference for concentrates.
As stigma around cannabis use continues to decrease, it is gaining a foothold in the daily lives of more and more Americans as well as the culture at large. According to the report, 72% of cannabis consumers say that everyone or almost everyone they know uses cannabis while more than half of cannabis non-consumers say they don’t mind members of their social circles using it. More than a quarter of those surveyed claim they would use cannabis in a workplace setting and a full 31% would use cannabis in a multigenerational social setting.
The Weedmaps report does reveal a need for credible, consistent cannabis education as more than half of consumers get cannabis information from friends and family and 17% get cannabis information from celebrities or use cannabis or have cannabis businesses. While this helps reduce stigma and drive popularity, it does not always result in accurate, safe information about consumption. The need for education is reflected in another area of the study, which looks at a lack of understanding on behalf of non-consumers of how cannabis can impact their local communities. 39% say they are not sure how cannabis legalization laws may affect them personally while 61% say they are not sure what will happen once cannabis is legalized in their state.
A strong trend of consumer brand loyalty may be accelerating growth, with more than 54% of consumers declaring loyalty to a favorite brand, nearly half of all consumers always buying branded products, and half of consumers believing that branded products offer the best results. 48% of consumers overall say they are creatures of habit and prefer to stick to what they are currently using, with a full 60% of baby boomers topping the list of those disinclined to experiment with new products or brands.
But it’s not just about the brand. The fight for social equity is a major concern for consumers, who are demanding that businesses address socioeconomic disparities within the cannabis industry. More than half of those surveyed believe that everyone should have access to opportunities in cannabis with an equal amount expressing the belief that increased equity stands to benefit everyone. Almost half expressed a desire to support women-owned cannabis businesses while nearly as many feel the same about minority-owned businesses. More than a third declared a desire to patronize LGBTQ+-owned businesses and 44% of consumers want to shop at veteran-owned businesses, reflecting an overall trend towards diversification. Weedmaps’ report does show a disconnect, however, between what people are saying they want and what they are willing to support, with only 27% stating support for social equity programs. With 2021 nearly in the rearview mirror and the uncertainties of 2022 looming ahead, analyses such as this that highlight the complexities and contradictions of consumer behavior play a key role in learning for the past and preparing for the future.