BUYERS IN THE NEW ERA OF CANNABIS CULTURE
Stereotypes Are Thrown Out The Window In 2017
Cannabis and cannabis culture has been for the past many years in the midst of a major brand overhaul. The frequency and prevalence of it as seen throughout the media is growing exponentially every day. And though it still isn’t federally legal across all of the US, marijuana consumption is legal in some states and with this legality comes a need for new and innovative ways to market to a culture that once upon a time existed primarily underground. Subsequently, the once typical cannabis buyer is no longer typical, and cannabis marketing agencies are discovering that previously tried and true rules and methods of branding no longer apply.
Marijuana pop culture has traditionally centered around the young male smoker and his ‘high times.’ But the legalization movement has made marijuana more accessible than it has ever been before, and cannabis’ reach extends now not only to that young male, but also to stressed out parents, to doctors and lawyers, and even to those such as senior citizens seeking to utilize it in a medicinal capacity.
So what does the typical, recreational marijuana user look like today? And how do the preferences and effects of cannabis branding on groups like young men and senior citizens differ? In order to glean more information on the topic, it’s important to learn everything there is to know about the world of the cannabis consumer and the different types of customers that comprise the market. While young men and medicinal marijuana patients make up a large chunk of the consumer market, there are multiple other groups that would be detrimental to overlook.
Want to learn more? Then let’s rehash some traditional stereotypes we all have heard about, and learn about the different types of cannabis buyers in 2018 that you never even knew existed!
The 7 Types Of Pot Smokers
Friendly, peaceful, and harmless, The Stoner is the foundation of cannabis culture. When thinking of a stoner, long hair, Indica strains, and Grateful Dead attire may come to mind. But while their respective haircut and clothing preferences may vary, one thing remains constant in this type of buyer: consistency.
This group is made up of your habitual users and those who, by word of mouth and by the oftentimes communal nature of smoking for recreational purposes, make up the backbone of the cannabis market and influence new buyers to jump on board. They are depicted time and time again as a similar archetype in music, television shows, and movies: early high school to mid college aged individuals, bored, with lots of unhealthy yet delicious snacks and time to kill. It is no surprise, then, that they in turn are also the ones who bear the brunt of the stigma surrounding the world of marijuana; the stereotype that those who use marijuana are dirty, lazy, stupid, or otherwise unsavory.
Sean Penn characterizes the stoner in
“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”
This is a major hurdle that the cannabis industry market needs to overcome in order to be successful: overturn old stereotypes. If The Stoner feels like they are being insulted or lumped into a large group of individuals deemed repellent by societal standards, they are likely to turn away from established marijuana brands and look for their product ‘underground,’ away from the prying eyes of society.
You know that part in a movie where the artist can’t seem to find the inspiration to begin their big masterpiece, so they light up a joint to help break through their mental hurdle? The Creative is a customer who seeks out a more cerebral high that will provide them with the enhanced creativity and energy with which to aid in an artistic endeavor. Whether they are writers looking for their next big break, or artists who wish to take advantage of the creative powers of bud to create award winning paintings, these users desire improved creativity. They are a staple in cannabis culture.
Most commonly associated with Sativa strains of marijuana that typically fill users with this much sought after creative focus and energy, many Creatives claim to be more productive when they smoke. Many even claim that their best work is helped or even completely influenced by their cannabis use, which produces incredibly loyal users who consider marijuana vital to forming certain character traits and successes.
Many Creatives seek to emulate artists they admire who use marijuana as a tool with which to produce changes in thinking and in turn more original content. They in turn may respond especially well to advertising mentioning specific exceptional individuals who excelled in their desired profession with bowl or pipe in hand. In this group, marijuana is used as a device, almost akin to coffee for a tired person, to ultimately accomplish a goal they have set for themselves.
John Lennon is getting ready to write
beautiful lyrics to a generation of smokers
Though the existence of them has and continues to be rather taboo in today’s traditional American culture, a surprising number of cannabis consumers with children are coming out of the woodwork. Perhaps brought on by the advent of legalized medicinal marijuana, many households now contain parents who are just as likely to light up a joint after the children have been put to bed as they are to enjoy a glass of wine in front of the television.
Though people ages 65 to 95 make up less than 5 percent of cannabis customers in the US, there are many younger parents bridging the gap between the stereotypical young, single smoker and today’s joint lighting mothers- especially if they live in areas with vibrant alternative subcultures such as New Mexico, Colorado, or California. If they do happen to be older parents, many of them are long term users who already have a set method and motivation for purchasing and consuming cannabis.
It will be particularly important, then, for a brand opening in newer markets to strike a balance between the two. For those who are unlikely to change their method of smoking from the last time they smoked on a regular basis (usually when they were younger), it is essential to offer a wide selection of flower for those select groups uninterested in changing their ways. For the younger, more experimental parental crowd, it is vital to offer a strong variety of products to attract and entice new consumers or reignite the spark for those who may have ceased their consumption around the time their children were born.
The Patient is a medical marijuana user who tends to be somewhat more selective and discerning than the aforementioned recreational consumers. Those who use marijuana in a medicinal manner tend to use hybrids or products containing Indica strains that are very relaxing and produce an overall body high. These users smoke more for overall pain relief, and are more likely to shy away from the branding geared towards many forms of recreational use. They are more likely to treat marijuana just like any other medicine they are prescribed to take.
Medical marijuana is typically used by the Patient to relax muscles and relieve headaches, migraines, and general body pain. And though the traditional medical marijuana user may be prescribed the product for a variety of symptoms associated with chronic illness, a growing number of patients are being prescribed marijuana to treat insomnia and to relieve general anxiety and stress brought on by the day to day.
The Patient uses and consumes marijuana for a definitive purpose, and ultimately is not looking for something to take to have fun; they are looking for something they can take to treat an ailment, disease, or other condition. For this type of cannabis buyer, the product it meant to be therapeutic, not as a way to ‘chill out’ in a large group setting or have a totally life altering experience.
A medical marijuana patient relaxing
as he exhales the natural medicine
We all know a cannabis Connoisseur- perhaps better described as ‘The Elitist’- who talks about obscure strains of marijuana every chance they get and will not be caught dead hitting a plastic bong or even a regular pipe. This type of buyer is well-versed in the ins and outs of cannabis subculture, and are typically drawn towards strains and products they haven’t yet tried for themselves. For The Connoisseur, knowledge is power; if there is something within their chosen culture of expertise they are unfamiliar with, you bet that they will do anything within their power to get their hands on it.
Conversely, high quality items are valued over those that are merely the most innovative, new, or shiny. Having a stock of high quality products to choose from is of the utmost important to The Connoisseur, many of whom are willing to pay steep premiums for organic or lab tested cannabis. Because cannabis culture is something they are personally passionate about, they are much more likely to spend more on higher quality ‘luxury items’ and paraphernalia than the occasional recreational user.
It is important for The Connoisseur to have knowledge and expertise on the entire gamut of cannabis related products the industry has to offer. They are the type of customers to really sit and digest this information; they will take the time to carefully sift through each product offered to them to find the hidden gems that make them subject matter experts.
Kid Cudi with a whiskey glass
full of carefully elected buds
The Millennials are defined as the group of cannabis customers born between the years of 1982 and approximately 2004. The broad societal term ‘millennial’ stems from the shared experience of the millennium transition when technology suddenly skyrocketed and a whole new way of life needed to be adopted in order to ‘keep up.’ The two main things that have shaped millennials have been the rise of technology and the introduction of social networks.
Growth of the legal market has allowed a wider variety of cannabis products to develop and flourish, such as edibles, concentrates, and other infused products. The introduction of these new proponents coupled with the influx of technology, and the wide array of advertising opportunities available through social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram, resonates first and foremost with The Millennial. As the primary user and consumer of social media platforms and content, The Millennial is the cannabis buyer who is most likely to see and be affected by the advertising present within the world of social media.
Millennials are fast to try new brands
and products looking for new experiences
Additionally, in the digital age where vast quantities of information are readily available at our fingertips, cannabis brands targeting this younger generation will need to work hard not only to attract customers in the first place, but to keep them coming back. High quality products and targeted advertising that is optimized for its corresponding social media platform are essential to even stand a chance in this competitive and fast paced information whirlwind.
The Generation X user is made up of people born between the years of 1961 and 1981; they are the demographic cohort directly following the Baby Boomer Generation, and are sandwiched between them and The Millennials. Often overlooked because they are not the first people that come to mind when one thinks ‘cannabis consumer,’ they are a difficult demographic to target because their range is incredibly broad.
They are teachers, professionals, business men and women, scientists, and innovators. They are at the age where they have become ‘normal adults’ and assume a level of responsibility many of them believe exist in a manner mutually exclusive to their glory days of marijuana and cannabis edibles. Similar to The Parents, many Generation Xers have put their rebellious pasts behind them and are now subjected to a host of new responsibilities, such as careers, marriage and family, and overall quality of life. In turn, they have also become more mentally burdened as a result of these responsibilities.
Yes, even your kids teacher or your doctor
is most probably smoking a joint or two
Though to many of them the prospect of cannabis used as an outlet for these higher stress levels and anxieties seems outside the world of possibilities, Generation X are actually a target demographic for brands that wish to advertise their products as a way to aid in mental health and wellness. As a generation defined by turmoil and uncertainty, it is increasingly important to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding cannabis in order to break through and appeal to these customers. Through further education and objective and true comprehensive data, these stigmas can be removed and a whole new world of potential customers looking for better peace of mind can be unlocked.
So What Does This Mean For You?
Grow Your Dispensary By Knowing Your Buyers
Though depictions of marijuana consumers in the media may have been negative or stereotypical in the past, the truth is that there is no one type of person who uses marijuana. As is evidenced above, marijuana consumers are an extremely and increasingly diverse group of people, so finding a target audience for your cannabis web design or brand is becoming that much more difficult.
It important to get inside the mind of your buyer, because what may come off as a selling point to one group may matter little or even act as a repellent to another group. In this day in age where marketing research and branding is extensive and sophisticated, it would be foolish to highlight the needs of one group while ignoring the needs of another, as is often done in a generic and dated “one size fits all” approach to cannabis marketing.
As the growing legalization of marijuana continues to inch cannabis into the public eye, more and more ‘atypical’ users are advocating for its use than ever before. With more consumer groups coming to light and being identified by cannabis marketing agencies, this overall picture is only made broader with further information. From chronically ill patients looking for some alternative, more natural symptom relief, to notable celebrity consumers influencing the younger generations, it only goes to show that the world of cannabis is extending its hand farther and farther than it ever has before.
All this goes to show that the cannabis industry and its branding practices need to be both specific and flexible in terms of their message and the target audience they are attempting to reach. With the growth of information and market research studies, knowing your user is luckily becoming easier than ever, but just remember that quantity over quality is essential. It is better to have a quality niche product than a subpar product marketed at both 18 year old stoners and medical marijuana patients; there is bound to be a level of disconnect and disingenuousness that will alienate both groups and bypass the chance of growing a sum of passionate, loyal customers that feel seen and understood.
If you want to learn more about what these users would like to see out of marijuana product brands, do not hesitate to run your own market research studies and discover what really speaks to and resonates with your target demographic. The future of cannabis marketing is bright, innovative, and diverse, and never before have there been so many branding opportunities or consumer groups to reflect that.