WASHINGTON —Cannabis consumers are evolving and becoming more intentional about their use of the plant, according to New Frontier Data.
The cannabis data and analytics company said in a report released this summer that more than half (57%) of cannabis consumers report using both flower and non-flower products.
“Smoking a joint remains the most common, popular way to consume cannabis,” the report said. “Understanding both the outsized role of flower and the consumers who enjoy it is essential to quantifying the broader trends influencing the growth of the cannabis industry.”
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What Forms Are Used
When New Frontier Data asked what percentage of current cannabis consumers use each form, the results showed flower and edibles at the top.
- Flower 83%
- Edibles 56%
- Vapes 33%
- Concentrates 22%
- Topicals 19%
- Tinctures, capsules and sublinguals 19%
- Beverages 14%
The range of product types used is fragmenting as consumers become more intentional in their use, selecting different products for different intentions, New Frontier Data said.
“For example, a consumer may select flower while relaxing at home, an edible or beverage while at a social gathering, a vape while hiking and an edible for sleep,” the report said.
Preferences also vary by region, and even municipalities.
“As our analysis of municipal sales in California has shown, there are notable differences in local sales trends which are smoothed out when the data is viewed at the state or national level,” the report said. Therefore, operators need to understand their consumers at the local market level while also being informed by broader regional and national trends and insights.
Diversifying Product Preference
While flower is the most-used product among current cannabis users, only 25% of consumers exclusively use flower products.
Users 18 to 34 years old are the most likely to use both flower and non-flower cannabis—66% in that age range reported using both. From ages 35 to 54, 60% reported using both flower and non-flower and only 37% of those aged 55 and older reported using both.
Flower is more common and favored especially in illicit markets, the report said, where alternative, value-added products may be less readily available or deemed riskier due to unreliable claims about potency or a lack of safety standards.
As legal access expands and non-consumers come of age or become curious about cannabis, the proportion of consumers who use both flower and non-flower products will continue to grow, New Frontier Data said.
Strategy for Newly Legal Markets
There is a difference in product preference in legal and nonlegal markets, however, that gap is narrowing.
As markets mature, and differences in product availability between legal and unregulated markets narrow, newly legal markets are behaving increasingly like established markets, with consumers adopting non-flower products as soon as they become available, the report said.
“As such, brands launching in new markets should expect a more sophisticated consumer for whom flower is the dominant, but not exclusive, product they seek,” according to New Frontier Data.
Washington, D.C.-based New Frontier Data is a data, analytics and technology firm specializing in the global cannabis industry, delivery solutions that enable investors, operators, advertisers, brands, researchers and policymakers to assess, understand, engage and transact with the cannabis industry and its consumers.