Business

What Do Cannabis Users Want? A big, new survey has answers

avatar Hilary Corrigan / Jun 17, 2020

A massive new survey has pieced together a picture of the modern cannabis user—and it’s not the stereotypical stoner.

The study, by Los Angeles market research firm Oasis Intelligence, found cannabis consumers can be “nearly anyone.” But the study describes the general consumer as a “thirty-something college graduate working full-time.”

“It’s not sort of just the slacker stereotype of olden days,” Oasis co-founder Laura Albers says.

The online survey, taken in Q4 2019, gathered responses from 20,000 individuals in every state and Washington, D.C. The largest such survey ever done in the U.S., according to Oasis, reached cannabis users and interested non-users from a range of ages, ethnicities and genders. Of the respondents, nearly 8,000, just under 40%, currently use cannabis. The remaining people either use CBD or are interested but do not currently use cannabis or CBD.

Oasis says it aims to help cannabis and hemp brands make evidence-based decisions to better understand their consumers, “from the cannacurious to the cannasseur.” 

Among the consumers, the survey found most use it at least once a week, usually flower and edibles. Respondents say they mostly turn to cannabis for medical and wellness purposes—rather than recreation. 

About 80% report using cannabis at least partly for medical purposes. And one in five don’t distinguish between the two reasons. That’s “maybe the opposite of what most people would think,” Oasis co-founder Ben Woo said.

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‘People expect more’

The survey also highlights a “point of distinction” for cannabis consumers: They’re strong advocates for a more conscientious society. They support legalization, expungement and social equity programs. 

“People expect more from brands than just great products,” the study says.

More than 60% of the cannabis users spend more than $50 per month on product. And 83% of them use at least weekly, mostly on weekend evenings and nights. More than half, 56%, say it’s an important part of their lives. 

At present, flower and edibles are the preferred consumption methods—used by 61% and 47%, respectively. But survey participants expressed strong interest in sampling beverages and transdermal patches.

The survey found that most people lack fundamental knowledge about cannabis, even as companies race to introduce new products. For instance, responders were largely unsure about the difference between THC and CBD. 

That’s something for companies to keep in mind, as they release new products. Industry professionals and consumers have widely divergent knowledge of the plant, Woo said. Amid the pandemic, he expects short online videos to become a more prevalent way for companies to inform consumers.

Forming a trajectory

According to Oasis, the study sheds light on who cannabis consumers are, beyond just what and where they buy. Brands can use such information to engage with new customers and develop new products.

Oasis had aimed to revisit the study quarterly, but the pandemic altered their plans. Now, they expect a second part of the study starting this summer to track changes while the population has been under quarantine.

Albers and Woo expect more people will consider cannabis an important part of their life. More may also report using it to treat anxiety, depression and stress. The results could also track the evolution of delivery and e-commerce platforms. 

With COVID-19 raising concerns about lung health, they also expect to see consumers inhale less flower and ingest more edibles, tinctures and beverages. That beverage category has been “waiting for its moment in the sun for a while now,” Woo said.