US Recreational Cannabis Consumer Market Report 2020
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"As of October 2019, two additional states have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use, Michigan and Illinois, bringing the total number to 11 states and the District of Columbia. Statewide…

US Recreational Cannabis Consumer Market Report 2020

£ 3,695 (Excl.Tax)


“As of October 2019, two additional states have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use, Michigan and Illinois, bringing the total number to 11 states and the District of Columbia. Statewide initiatives for legalization and expectations for the sales potential of cannabis are getting a lot of attention, yet the market remains incredibly complex. The base of cannabis users is still relatively small at 28% of the total population within recreationally legal states. Yet those who aren’t current users are nearly split on their interest or intentions for future consumption, whether staunchly opposed, interested or still undecided, suggesting that the industry, while nascent, has a lot of room to grow. While the market and the products within it seem complicated, the current cannabis consumer is not. Their attitudes and behaviors not only defy stereotypes, they show that cannabis users are not unique as consumers of all things. Understanding cannabis consumers and their behavior as it relates to cannabis, the occasions, motivations and perceptions can offer unique insights to brands in any space to help them connect with these consumers. The momentum of legalization – whether at the state level or potentially federal – should be an indicator for brand strategists and marketers to start thinking about how their brand will be impacted.”
– Michele Scott, Senior Analyst

This report will look at the following areas:

  • Spoiler alert – the market is complicated
  • The cannabis consumer is not
  • Cannabis is an opportunity for any brand

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • Definition
  2. Executive Summary

    • Market Overview
    • Recreational Cannabis User Fast Facts
    • The user base is limited, yet with room for growth
      • Figure 1: Interest or experience among light or non-users, October 2019
    • Even current users are conflicted by stigmas and stereotypes
      • Figure 2: Attitudes and Behaviour related to Cannabis, October 2019
    • Current cannabis consumers are pretty dedicated
      • Figure 3: Frequency of Cannabis Use, October 2019
    • Cannabis consumers are traditional
      • Figure 4: Primary cannabis Formats used, October 2019
    • Wellness unifies a diverse consumer base
      • Figure 5: Reasons for Cannabis and CBD products use, October 2019
    • At-home occasions are an open door
      • Figure 6: Cannabis occasions of interest, by current and interested, October 2019
    • Cannabis brands are tasked with raising the bar
      • Figure 7: Perceptions of cannabis, October 2019
  3. The Market – What You Need to Know

    • Markets vary by state
    • Status: it’s complicated
    • Supply gaps a buzzkill
    • All the same trends apply
  4. Market Size and Forecast

    • Estimates for US recreational sales expected to top $18 billion by 2023
      • Figure 8: Total US sales and forecast of market, at current prices, 2018-23
  5. Market Breakdown – A State by State Look

    • Alaska
      • Figure 9: Demographic data, Alaska
      • Figure 10: Cannabis sales, Alaska
    • California
      • Figure 11: Demographic data, California
      • Figure 12: Cannabis taxes collected, California
    • Colorado
      • Figure 13: Demographic data, Colorado
      • Figure 14: Cannabis sales, Colorado
    • Illinois
      • Figure 15: Demographic data, Illinois
    • Maine
      • Figure 16: Demographic data, Maine
    • Massachusetts
      • Figure 17: Demographic data, Massachusetts
      • Figure 18: Cannabis sales, Massachusetts
    • Michigan
      • Figure 19: Demographic data, Michigan
    • Nevada
      • Figure 20: Demographic data, Nevada
      • Figure 21: Taxable cannabis sales, Nevada
    • Oregon
      • Figure 22: Demographic data, Oregon
      • Figure 23: Cannabis sales, Oregon
    • Washington
      • Figure 24: Demographic data, Washington
      • Figure 25: Cannabis sales, Washington
  6. Market Perspective

    • Patchwork quilt legislation compromises enterprise
      • Figure 26: Recreational vs medical cannabis legalization by state, October 2019
    • Medical users seemingly get preferential treatment
      • Figure 27: Self-assessment of cannabis use in recreationally legal states, October 2019
    • Cannabis and alcoholic beverages vie for similar occasions, consumers
      • Figure 28: Alcohol consumption by cannabis consumption, October 2019
  7. Market Factors – A Tale of Complicated Affairs

    • Legalization gaining steam…
    • …but consumers get litigious about CBD
    • Stigmas are deeply rooted, even among users
      • Figure 29: Attitudes about cannabis, October 2019
    • Americans are looking for stress relief
      • Figure 30: Health concerns, November 2018
    • Legality blocks big brands, confuses consumers
    • Social barriers may stifle consumer change
      • Figure 31: Occasions of interest, by current or interested users, October 2019
    • Supply chain and operational issues need some work
    • The lure of the black market exists
    • Canadian market is a cautionary tale
    • Vaping lung disease: the dark side
  8. Brand Landscape

    • Trend drivers – what motivates consumer behavior?
  9. A Look at Brands Driving Change

    • Edibles brands tap into experience with nostalgia, fun
    • Cannabrands find purposeful rights
    • Raising the bar on value, perception
    • Celebrity identity boosts brands
    • Keeping surroundings green through packaging
    • Connecting cannabis consumers through technology
    • PODs spread the word
    • But print’s not dead
    • Women and cannabis pioneer new territory
    • Outside-the-blunt thinking lets more brands play in the recreational space
    • Service with a smile
    • Foodservice operators strive for experiential wellness
  10. The Consumer – What You Need to Know

    • Less than a third of consumers are cannabis users in recreationally legalized states
    • Most recreational consumers use at least weekly
    • Reasons for use lean into wellness aspirations
    • Traditional formats are still reached for most…
    • …yet a shift to contemporary, discreet methods should be expected
    • Cannabis users like to chill in the evening
    • Stigmas still pervade
  11. Recreational Cannabis Consumption

    • Cannabis use outpaces tobacco and vaping but lags behind popular beverages
      • Figure 32: Substance consumption, October 2019
    • Men are more engaged cannabis users
      • Figure 33: Substance consumption, by gender, October 2019
    • Younger adults more engaged across cannabis type
      • Figure 34: Cannabis consumption, by generation, October 2019
    • Income is not a determinant of use
      • Figure 35: Cannabis and alcohol consumption, by income, October 2019
    • White consumers most likely to drink, fall behind Hispanic and Black consumers in cannabis use
      • Figure 36: Cannabis and alcohol of consumables, by ethnic origin and race, October 2019
  12. Frequency of Cannabis Consumption

    • User frequency indicates difference in approach to products
      • Figure 37: Frequency of use, by type, October 2019
    • Men are more habitual, women tend to be occasion-based users
      • Figure 38: Frequency of use of cannabis, by gender, October 2019
    • Lower-income consumers more likely to be daily users
      • Figure 39: Frequency of use of cannabis, by income, October 2019
    • Cultural differences diluted at daily use
      • Figure 40: Frequency of use of any cannabis, CBD or hemp, by race and ethnic origin, October 2019
  13. Reasons for Cannabis Consumption

    • Cannabis and CBD address similar needs, but CBD stands out for health
      • Figure 41: Reasons for cannabis use, by type, October 2019
    • More men embrace broad health claims
      • Figure 42: Reasons for cannabis use, by gender, October 2019
      • Figure 43: Reasons for CBD use, by gender, October 2019
    • Motivations increasingly practical with age for both cannabis and CBD
      • Figure 44: Reasons for cannabis use, by age, October 2019
    • Age influences perception of health application(s)
      • Figure 45: Reasons for CBD use, by age, October 2019
  14. Cannabis Interest and Experience

    • Nearly a quarter of consumers are undecided about cannabis
      • Figure 46: Interest and experience with cannabis, October 2019
    • Women are curious but cautious about cannabis
      • Figure 47: Interest and experience with cannabis, by gender, October 2019
  15. Primary Formats Used

    • Classic cannabis has broad appeal
      • Figure 48: Primary cannabis formats used, October 2019
    • Men more evenly split among formats
      • Figure 49: Primary cannabis forms used, by gender, October 2019
    • Edibles and vapes appeal to more-affluent consumers
      • Figure 50: Primary cannabis forms used, by income, October 2019
  16. Additional Forms Used and Interest

      • Figure 51: Additional formats used or interested in, October 2019
    • Cannabis users loyal to methods, but open to exploration
      • Figure 52: Interest and experience with cannabis, by format, October 2019
    • An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of cannabis
      • Figure 53: Use of ingestible cannabis, by income, October 2019
    • Women less experienced (and interested) in common formats
      • Figure 54: Use and interest in inhaled cannabis, by gender, October 2019
    • Less-common formats find favor with parents
      • Figure 55: Any use or interest in cannabis formats, by parental status, October 2019
    • Key formats perceived as effective but not sophisticated
      • Figure 56: Cannabis attributes by format type, October 2019
  17. Consumption Dayparts and Situations

    • High by night
      • Figure 57: Primary cannabis occasions, time of day, October 2019
    • Men are more apt to use cannabis throughout the day
      • Figure 58: Primary cannabis occasions, by daypart, by gender, October 2019
    • Millennial and Gen X open to AM and PM use
      • Figure 59: Primary cannabis occasions, by daypart, by generation, October 2019
    • Low risk, high rewards for weekday use
      • Figure 60: Weekday vs weekend use, October 2019
    • Women tend to lean toward weekend use
      • Figure 61: Weekday vs weekend use, by gender, October 2019
    • Cannabis occasions are mostly solitary
      • Figure 62: Cannabis occasions, alone or with group, October 2019
    • Women more apt for solo occasions but are oddly open
      • Figure 63: Consumption occasions, alone or with group, by gender, October 2019
    • Generational shift in candidness is slowly chipping away at stigma
      • Figure 64: Consumption occasions, alone or with group, by generation, October 2019
    • Cannabis and chill
      • Figure 65: Interest in cannabis occasions, October 2019
    • CBD has more narrow use interest
      • Figure 66: Interest in CBD occasions, October 2019
    • Men more adventurous in occasion location
      • Figure 67: Interest in cannabis occasions, by gender, October 2019
  18. Cannabis Attitudes and Behaviors

    • Personal opinion may not negate stigma
      • Figure 68: Attitudes about cannabis, October 2019
    • Lifestage points to attitude shifts
      • Figure 69: Attitudes and behaviors, by generation, October 2019
  19. Reasons for Potential New Future Use

    • Future use mirrors current drivers
      • Figure 70: Drivers of potential future use, October 2019
    • Women show less latitude when considering recreational use
      • Figure 71: Drivers of potential future cannabis use, by gender, October 2019
    • Products that promote pain relief and stress reduction will gain widest appeal
      • Figure 72: TURF analysis – Reasons for potential use, October 2019
  20. Reasons for Nonuse

    • Key drivers for nonuse present ample opportunities
      • Figure 73: Barriers to use, October 2019
    • TURF
      • Figure 74: TURF analysis – Barriers to use, October 2019
  21. Attributes Associated with Cannabis

    • Above all, consumers believe in the power of the bud
      • Figure 75: Attributes associated with cannabis, October 2019
    • Men cast a more positive cloud around cannabis
      • Figure 76: Attributes associated with cannabis, by gender, October 2019
    • Downsides to discretion with open-to-use consumers
      • Figure 77: Attributes associated with cannabis by openness to use, October 2019
    • Gen Z is social, Millennials more serious
      • Figure 78: Attributes associated with cannabis, by generation, October 2019
  22. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations

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