As the cannabis industry becomes more regulated and normalized, the standard method of consumption – lighting a joint and inhaling smoke – is becoming passé. Newer and more discreet form factors such as topicals, tinctures and edibles.
According to Headset, a leading data and analytics firm for the cannabis industry, consumers are quickly adapting to the ever-expanding cannabis retail offerings. According to number-crunching from the Seattle-based research outfit, flower (inhaled by joint, pipe, etc.) remains the dominant retail category, but the times are changing.
Discretion drives move to new forms of consumption
What is interesting about Headset’s analysis is that both Millennials (under 35) and the Silent Generation (76 and older) are leading the way in the movement toward discretion. Although on polar opposites of the demographic spectrum, both age groups are discovering different ways to enjoy or medicate with the herb. Less than half (47 percent) of cannabis purchased by Millennials and older consumers is flower, highlighting the shift to newer forms of consumption.
But it’s not just younger and older Americans making the switch. Generation X (ages 35-53) and Baby Boomers (ages 54-75) are also hopping aboard the discretion bandwagon. Gen-Xers spend 55 percent of their cannabis dollars on flower and Boomers spend 59 percent on bud. But that leaves a huge chunk of the retail market open for innovative new products.
Variety is the spice of life
The data, although not totally surprising given the rapid development of a growing marketplace, suggests that discerning cannabis consumers are searching for less overt and potentially more healthy options.
“As the industry matures and the market reacts to consumers’ actual needs, there is a sea change in consumption habits,” said David Rheins, founder and executive director of MJBA, one of the leading national b2b organizations in legal cannabis. “This is what the mainstreaming of marijuana looks like.”
Non-smoked marijuana consumption leads the way
According to Rheins, the shift away from smoked marijuana products for consumption is a clear signal that consumers are helping to shape the nascent cannabis industry. “It’s simply supply-and-demand. Consumer choice drives market dynamics,” Rheins says. And the demand for non-smoked cannabis goods is skyrocketing.
A good way to experiment with dosage
Patrick Devlin, one of a trio of brothers who created Zoots, makers of a variety of premium infused cannabis products including the popular Zootdrops beverage mixer, sees the change as a turning point in the industry. “This gives people a way to be more exact with their dosage,” Devlin said. If new customers start at a very low dosage, they are more likely to enjoy the experience and do it again, Devlin believes.
For the older generation of consumers, cannabis capsules are the second most popular form factor after flower at 11 percent. Edibles, topicals and tinctures are also more in vogue for the senior set.
For the Millennial crowd, concentrates and oil account for nearly a quarter of all purchases. Vape pens are popular among all demographic groups.
The “discretion trend” highlighted by Headset validates other data suggesting that it is older Americans who are creating the market shift in marijuana consumption trends. A recent report reveals that seniors are far outpacing teen cannabis in both consumption and the adoption of new forms of ingestion.
A study from the Centers for Disease Control showed that those who said they’d used cannabis in the prior month grew 455 percent among those aged 55 to 64, and 333 percent for those 65 and over. It dropped 10 percent for 12-to-17-year-olds during the same period.
So no matter your age, the next time you shop at a Greenlight Approved retail specialist, check out the selection of non-smoked options. Whether it’s an edible or a lotion or a vape pen, the world of cannabis is changing. And the future looks even better.