Cannabis consumer behavior is shifting – and with it the future of the cannabis industry, according to a new report from cannabis firm New Frontier Data
The report, “Cannabis Consumers in America 2023 Part 2: Exploring the Archetypes,” scrutinizes the shifts by examining nine cannabis consumer archetypes, updated with the firm’s latest 2023 consumer survey data.
Savvy Connoisseurs, which account for 13% of consumers, use cannabis multiple times per day for various medical and recreational purposes. They are the highest spenders and most frequent purchasers, acquiring cannabis at least once a week. Savvy Connoisseurs tend to be younger and are often sources of cannabis for friends and family.
Another category, Contemporary Lifestylers, represent 16% of consumers. These frequent consumers primarily use cannabis recreationally and rely mostly on legal sources for procurement.
Medical Lifestylers make up 12% of consumers, regularly using cannabis primarily for medical reasons such as pain management or treatment of a medical condition.
The last category, Legacy Lifestylers, consists of 13% of consumers. Such individuals are frequent cannabis consumers who source their supply primarily from friends and illicit dealers, due to residing in states where cannabis remains illegal or inaccessible legally.
According to Molly McCann, senior director of consumer insights at New Frontier Data, there’s been a noticeable change in the distribution of consumers across these archetypes.
One significant development: The Legacy Lifestyler archetype dropped from 16% of consumers in 2022 to 13% in 2023. The decline is linked to expanding legal access to cannabis in several states, including populous markets like New York and New Jersey.
“As more legal markets come online, Legacy Lifestylers will morph into Contemporary and Medical Lifestylers, depending on whether their consumption goals are medical or recreational,” McCann said.
“In the longer term, those consumers may find that after exposure to a broader range of product forms in a legal market, they actually prefer noncombustible options, and could evolve into one of the archetypes that prefers nonflower products, either the Savvy Connoisseurs if they add nonsmokable products on top of smoking, or the Engaged Explorers or Modern Medicinals if they replace much or all of their smoking with non-combustible products,” she noted.
The Savvy Connoisseur archetype also saw a decrease, from 18% to 13% of consumers from 2022 to 2023. This shift could be due to less-frequent consumers becoming a larger part of the consumer space and a return to the new normal post-pandemic restrictions.
McCann concluded, “The reduction in the number of Savvy Connoisseurs from 2022 to 2023 may also be reflective of consumers in newly legal markets settling into their own consumption habits.”