The following is adapted from Basis Technologies’ guide, Cannabis Advertising in the Roaring 2020’s. For even more cannabis advertising-related insights and statistics, download the guide today.
"Of course I know how to roll a joint.”
If you had to guess which celebrity is responsible for the above quote, would you choose A) Snoop Dogg, B) Seth Rogen, or C) Martha Stewart?
If you guessed C, you’re correct! Stewart, the legendary chef and entrepreneur, has publicly shared her forays into cannabis, serving as a strategic advisor for marijuana firm Canopy Growth and even launching her own CBD product line.
Stewart’s use of cannabis may seem surprising precisely because of who she is: a wealthy female baby boomer who gives off major “mom vibes.” But research shows that Martha’s demographics are actually representative of a significant portion of cannabis consumers.
The fragmented nature of the cannabis landscape means that there’s limited data on consumer characteristics and behaviors. As the substance has become increasingly mainstream thanks to more and more states legalizing its use, all kinds of folks outside of the “stoner dude” stereotype have chosen to indulge.
Want to learn more about what demographics are consuming cannabis and how to market to them? Check out the following five cannabis consumer personas:
Women represent one of the largest untapped cannabis audience segments. Research shows that women tend to feel less comfortable in brick-and-mortar dispensaries due to stigmas around cannabis use—and, notably, that they’re more likely to face harsher criticism about cannabis than men. There’s an opening for brands to help break down these stigmas via education and to form meaningful connections with female consumers.
Another big audience segment is the over 65 crowd, which represents the United States’ fastest-growing group of cannabis users, according to a 2021 ICR survey. Now is the time to market to boomers, as they currently don’t feel marketed to—the same survey found that cannabis users over 60 were 27% less likely to feel that the brands of cannabis available were “for them.” Still, many marketers struggle to reach this audience because they spend less time online. Utilizing traditional ad formats to educate this audience about how cannabis and CBD can fight the side effects of aging is one viable tack marketers can take to capture boomers’ attention.
Millennials are major consumers of cannabis—according to one survey, one in five millennials consume marijuana every day. Most millennials tend to use marijuana socially, with only 25% of respondents in another survey reporting that they smoke alone. Another common feature of the millennial audience is an interest in social justice and activism. Given the racist history of cannabis regulation, some brands have used marketing to both raise awareness and capture the attention of socially-aware groups like millennials and Gen Z.
While people in the U.S. have historically understood cannabis as an intoxicating substance, a growing body of research on its health benefits has created a big opportunity for brands to educate potential consumers who are interested in wellness. The caveat is that marketers cannot assert that recreational products can diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease, per the FDA’s guidelines. Read more about cannabis advertising regulations here.
All the above groups—and many more—contain potential newcomer consumers. Cannabis brands of all sorts can benefit by using marketing to educate and destigmatize cannabis for the U.S. public. MedMen’s “Forget Stoner” campaign, which features entrepreneurs, designers, and even police officers, is a good example of how brands can extend a hand to folks who may not have considered cannabis as "for them."
The cannabis landscape is emerging, constantly in flux, and breaks the mold for what CPG marketing can look like. To succeed, marketers must do their research, stay agile, and think out of the box. Those bold enough to embrace the industry’s complexity are bound to find some of their most rewarding and successful work ahead of them in the cannabis space.
To learn more about how the cannabis landscape has evolved, how marketers can navigate cannabis advertising regulations, and how to set your campaigns apart, check out our cannabis advertising guide, Cannabis Marketing in the Roaring 2020’s.