Cannabis culture hasn’t quite shaken off the stoner subculture that’s traditionally defined it — Reefer Madness, High Times, and Snoop aren’t going away anytime soon. Many of the largest players in the space started in the traditional market (pre-legalization) before becoming multi-state operators (MSOs). The legalization of both medical and recreational usage has opened the door to new consumers. New entrepreneurs are emerging and established cannabis entrepreneurs are partnering with the media establishment to drive awareness and scale (Snoop’s potluck with Martha). Add to that the consumer trend toward natural wellness solutions, the cannabis industry and the culture that defined it for so long is changing.
New consumers: Women and Seniors. The number of women entering the market is leading to a diversification of giving rise to product offers and experiences in the cannabis space. to new types of cannabis products and experiences. Growing legalization is helping to evaporate social stigmas associated with usage.
The influx of women has given rise to new cannabis lifestyle publications targeted to women who may not identify with High Times and Dope’s discernibly male audience. New magazines like Miss Grass, The Emerald, and Edibles are focused on women who want to know more about cannabis travel, skin care lines, and recipes. These are women who want to be able to ask about the efficacy of cannabis for period, and don’t want to feel stupid for not knowing how to dab concentrates.
Meanwhile, seniors and cannabis is a new territory that has been largely unexplored by brands and media. With the number of boomers that use cannabis rising year over year, I would imagine we’re not too far away from an influx of low-dose THC/CBD products for seniors looking for alternatives to manage anxiety, pain, and inflammation. Or maybe they just want to relax.
Even more fascinating is how broadly we can define seniors today. We’re going to have cannabis options for seniors that may still live in their homes with dependent children and options for seniors in assisted living homes. Magazines, take note — there aren’t any pubs currently designed for senior living on cannabis.
The High End of Cannabis. We’re seeing more and more luxury cannabis offerings. Barneys has doubled down on cannabis by being the first department store to open a luxury head shop, The High End, in its Beverly Hill’s location. The store features high-end smoking devices, as well as premium vapes and skin care products from Beboe. The Standard Hotel in LA was the first hotel to sell Lord Jones CBD gummies in minibars. Expect the premiumization of the space to continue, especially as more luxury skincare players begin to integrate CBD into existing product lines or add nutraceutical CBD products to their roster.
Meet the next big cannabis entrepreneur: Grandma. At the Boston NECANN conference, one of the largest North East gatherings of B2B and B2C players in the cannabis space, I met a lot of grandmas who, are part of the wave of new cannabis entrepreneurs, learned the craft of edible-making for loved ones diagnosed with cancer or suffering from long-term opioid addiction. Many of the women have never held traditional careers outside of the home — cannabis could change that.
Trust in cannabis. With all of the new consumers, new products and new types of entrepreneurs entering into the cannabis space, trust is going to be critical. Who do you trust?
The established levers of credibility are already at play: we’re seeing ratings and reviews of CBD products on Amazon and on direct to consumer sites. On Instagram, celebrities and beauty bloggers alike review skincare products with CBD, musicians and DJs tout their favorite vapes and tinctures. In the medical space, green nurse networks are setting up health consultancies for people interested in learning more about using cannabis. And if you are a medical marijuana patient, chances are you are interacting with a dispensary budtender who might be a pharmacist or a patient care advocate.
There is no easy answer to the question of trust. It’s unlikely that we’ll have a unified governing body to regulate the safety or the quality of the CBD and THC in products — that will require federal legalization. Wait and watch for now.
From new consumers, new audiences, and new mediums, to new entrepreneurs, new authorities, and even new models of care for health — big cannabis clearly holds a lot of opportunity for businesses and brands across nearly every industry. As the sector continues to unfold, marketers would be wise to do their research and follow the trends, to see where their brand can fit in.