Portal - Consumer - Health-Conscious Consumer

“Health -Conscious Consumers” consist of those who responded to the survey question: "Why did you purchase this cannabis product again?" with “It is organic, while others are not”, “It is gluten-free, while others are not”, or “It is lab certified, while others are not” for any of their four most recent purchases. For brevity, the term “Dieters” has been used to denote “Health-Conscious Consumers” in the graphics.

Executive Summary

  • Health conscious consumers tend to be more educated – but not necessarily wealthier – than the average patient
  • They are reluctant to try new brands without some guarantee of quality, but they are very open to buying online or with apps and they stay up to date on industry blogs
  • Health conscious consumers focus primarily on edibles, particularly baked goods
  • They spend more on marijuana than any other consumer group, and far more than the average medical patient
  • These consumers do their research on product before buying, and look to both online reviews and packaging for product information

Every day seems to bring with it a new diet trend, including the Paleo Diet, Raw Food Diet, juicing, and detoxes - just to name a few. Although they may seem fleeting, some of these health trends and diet considerations – organic, for example - appear to have staying power, and have permeated not only supermarkets, but fast food chains, coffee shops, and even cannabis dispensaries. 

According to data collected by Brightfield Group from over 1,200 medical marijuana patients throughout California in 2016, roughly 3 out of every 10 users highly prioritize diet and health concerns when considering cannabis products and brands to enjoy. Not only are these cannabis patients increasingly checking their local dispensaries for gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan products, but out of all the consumer groups researched (including high-income consumers, Millennials, loyal users, and more), this is the group spending by far the most on cannabis products.

Health-conscious consumers make up a significant component of today’s cannabis market, and their patronage might mean the difference between success and failure for many stores and brands. The analysis below details this group’s demographic makeup, describes health-conscious users’ decision-making processes and spending habits, and provides guidance for manufacturers and dispensaries seeking to enter or expand within this market.

Health-Conscious Consumers: Who are they?

[1][2] [3] [4] [5] [6][7]


From a demographic standpoint, the health conscious consumer doesn’t look much different than the average medical marijuana patient.  They have a tendency to skew somewhat younger, with Millennials and Gen Xers dominating the fold.  They skew a bit towards men, but have about 43% women.  Surprisingly, they are pretty evenly split between high, middle and low income groups, demonstrating that a focus on health is not a luxury reserved for the rich.

The one unique demographic attribute of this group is a higher level of education than is present in the average medical patient, or almost any other consumer group.  More than half (52%) hold a college degree, and almost three quarters of these consumers have completed at least some coursework towards a 2-year degree.  Students are very well represented in this cohort – 9% are currently completing a bachelor’s or graduate degree.




Health-Conscious Consumers: How do they live their lives?

WITH DISCRIMINATING TASTE

This consumer group is highly concerned about what enters their bodies, not only seeking out diet-friendly and lab-tested products on a regular basis, but being particularly selective when it comes to testing out new products and brands.

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Healthycannabis users are much more likely to strongly advocate looking for as much product and brand information as possible before purchasing, than are less health-conscious users. Diet-conscious consumers are also unlikely to purchase a cannabis brand they have never heard of, and unlike many cannabis consumers, they regularly read cannabis-related websites and blogs to stay informed.

These statistics do not necessarily correlate with a less adventurous consumer group, but rather a more discriminate and experienced consumer group; 40% of diet-conscious cannabis users indicate that they are usually disappointed when trying a new product or brand, versus about half that number among less health-conscious consumers.

Health-conscious users’ hesitance to try new or untested brands is a result of having wasted money on less-than-ideal items in the past – they have developed a reluctance to purchase without some sort of guarantee or review system supporting their decision.

Thus, dispensaries’ and manufacturers’ ability to penetrate this consumer market will hinge on users’ knowledge and trust of their products. Wise approaches to breaking into this market will consider sampling products or discounting to get customers in the door, and ensuring quality to increase positive user reviews and reach those who are researching products and brands before ever considering purchasing them.  Positive coverage on external blogs and industry media coverage will greatly support the promotion of these brands as well.

  • Technological, informed and willing to spend [9]

Health-conscious marijuana users are not afraid to use technology to their advantage, especially as consumers. They prefer online shopping to in-person shopping, and many prefer smart phone app-based services over traditional ones (e.g. Uber versus taxi).

Additionally, a whopping three-quarters of health-conscious consumers express a willingness to purchase cannabis online through an app. With current spending levels where they are (health-conscious consumers spend approximately $125 per week per person on cannabis products!), vendors and marketers should make great efforts to capture part of this lucrative market.

The most straightforward and accessible way to reach these tech-friendly consumers is through social media and smart phone apps, which should prioritize and ensure security and confidentiality, as well as convenience and user-friendliness. Marketers should also work in partnership with vendors and manufacturers to produce, sell, and create “buzz” about quality products – which will lead to great user reviews – thus meeting the trifecta of marijuana app priorities expressed by health-conscious users and opening themselves up to this app-friendly and willing-to-pay market.

  • Health- and diet-conscious, not to be confused with “Health Nuts”

[10] [11] [12]

Despite a propensity to purchase cannabis strains and products considered “healthy” by many, diet-conscious users have various habits that indicate they are not concerned with all aspects of health, and that it is not always their first priority.

For example, almost half of health-conscious users indicated their favorite Friday night activity would be to stay in and enjoy pizza and a movie with friends or family - not a particularly healthy food or activity by most standards. They also consume significantly more fast food than less diet-conscious users, meaning that for many, convenience may be a priority over health or spending (although it is worth mentioning that many fast food chains now offer organic and gluten-free goods, which may appeal to this demographic as well).

Finally, one-half of diet-conscious cannabis users are against bicycling short distances to work, and very few express enthusiasm about doing so – indicating a general lack of interest in physical fitness.

Two important conclusions may be drawn here. First, between their frequent fast food forays and higher-than-average budgets for cannabis, diet-conscious users appear to be willing to spend a great deal of money on consumer goods, from health food to fast food to marijuana. Secondly, they are more preoccupied with purchasing products labeled “organic”, “gluten-free” and “lab-certified” than they are with strictly adhering to traditional diet and exercise regimens. To appeal to these consumers, marijuana marketers and producers should keep up-to-date with diet trends (especially those that have a longer trajectory) and incorporate them into products and advertising, favoring diet elements and health appeal over price considerations.

Health-Conscious Consumers: What marijuana products are they buying?

[13]

Health-conscious cannabis patients are most interested in edibles, but also frequently purchase both flower and concentrates. It is interesting to note that Flower actually ranks third in popularity amongst this consumer group, where it has a solid, though declining, lead amongst most other consumer groups.

Baked goods, the leading subcategory for the health conscious, are likely so popular among this demographic because they lend themselves to the incorporation of diet products, such as gluten-free flour and organic budder. Edibles are also more likely to be popular amongst this group because they don’t need to be smoked and therefore are better for the lungs.

Health-Conscious Consumers: How much are they purchasing and consuming?

[14] [15] [16]

The diet-conscious consumer group spends considerably more than their counterparts on marijuana, an average spend per week of over $120 more than $50 per week more than their counterparts. The health-conscious market is made up of frequent users who buy great quantities of high quality products. Although it is not vast in numbers, each client gained by reaching out to this cohort is well worth the effort put forth, given diet-conscious consumers’ spending capacity.



Health-Conscious Consumers: What are they looking for when buying weed?

[17] [18]

As is to be expected, diet-conscious users are prone to seeking qualities such as organic and lab-certified in their marijuana products, but they also tend to repeat business when the products purchased offer great taste, reasonable

Health-conscious customers also tend to be less drawn by price and friends’ recommendations, and more drawn by availability at local dispensaries, than are other consumers.

HEALTH-CONSCIOUS CONSUMERS: HOW CAN COMPANIES REACH THEM?

  • Product Development

Manufacturers looking to begin or continue targeting the diet-friendly market must make a continuous effort to follow societal trends in diet and health, and appeal to the needs and desires of those seeking out healthier products.

As smoking is increasingly being viewed as unhealthy, those targeting the health conscious consumer should focus more on edibles, other infused products like topicals or tinctures and to a somewhat lesser extent cartridges (these are viewed as less harmful than smoking flower but still not exactly healthy for lungs).

Products developed should always have an eye to the ingredients and elements used in the creation of the good, whether it is flower, edible product or concentrate.  For edibles, companies should consider eliminating or reducing fat and sugar content and avoid using red flag ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners which are tantamount to poison in the eyes of many health conscious consumers.  Manufacturers should also avoid processes that rely heavily on GMOs or pesticides. Manufacturers should favor incorporating diet and health elements over price considerations, as cost is only a minor consideration for health-conscious users. While organic certification is, of course, not possible at this time for the cannabis industry, companies targeting this cohort should be sure to use and identify their organic inputs as well as detail their organic credentials (non-pesticide, non-GMO, organically grown cannabis, other organic inputs into edibles, etc.)

  • Packaging and Product Positioning

Health-conscious marijuana patients consider packaging to be an important attractive element, thus cannabis marketers and producers should focus on making this element stand out, being sure to include organic, dairy- or gluten-free and other attractive diet elements prominently on product wrappers and containers.

As this consumer group is particularly saturated with students and educated people, dispensaries and manufacturers should focus on developing products and packaging attractive to this demographic – for instance, easy-open and portable products will be appealing to college students prone to walk and bicycle, as well as busy professionals with limited time.

These users can be depended upon to do their research, and as such it is helpful to make information readily available to save them a step and provide full disclosure, ensuring potential customers that the company and its products are honest and upright. Vendors should include information about sugar and fat content, animal product use, and products containing wheat or excluding GMOs, clearly on labeling. Finally, particularly in California - where lab testing is still not required - companies should be careful to ensure that their product’s lab tested status is displayed on packaging as this is of key concern for the health-conscious cohort.

  • Marketing and Distribution

Health-conscious marijuana patients consider packaging to be an important attractive element, thus cannabis marketers and producers should focus on making this element stand out, being sure to include organic, dairy- or gluten-free and other attractive diet elements prominently on product wrappers and containers.

As this consumer group is particularly saturated with students and educated people, dispensaries and manufacturers should focus on developing products and packaging attractive to this demographic – for instance, easy-open and portable products will be appealing to college students prone to walk and bicycle, as well as busy professionals with limited time.

These users can be depended upon to do their research, and as such it is helpful to make information readily available to save them a step and provide full disclosure, ensuring potential customers that the company and its products are honest and upright. Vendors should include information about sugar and fat content, animal product use, and products containing wheat or excluding GMOs, clearly on labeling. Finally, particularly in California - where lab testing is still not required - companies should be careful to ensure that their product’s lab tested status is displayed on packaging as this is of key concern for the health-conscious cohort.

Notes

[1] Survey question: Please indicate your age. Responses available: Under 18; 18-20; 21-25; 26-34; 35-49; 50-64; 65+.

[2] Survey question: Please specify your gender. Responses available: Male; Female.

[3] Survey question: Please indicate your current marital status. Responses available: Single; Living with partner; Married; Divorced or separated; Widowed.

[4] Survey question: How important do you consider your religion to be to you? Response range available: Less Important (0) – More Important (10).

[5] Survey question: Please select which ethnicity applies to you. Responses available: Caucasian; Hispanic or Latino; Black or African American; Asian or Asian American; Middle Eastern; American Indian or Alaska Native; Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; Other; I prefer not to say.

[6] Survey question: Please specify the highest level of education that you have attained. Responses available: Some High School; High School Diploma; Some 2 year college (Associates or Vocational Degree); Associates or Vocational Degree; Currently completing Bachelor Degree (B.A., B.S.); Bachelor’s Degree; Currently completing Graduate or Post Graduate Degree (Masters, PhD, Law, Medicine); Graduate or Post Graduate Degree (Masters, PhD, Law, Medicine).

[7] Survey question: What is your household income? Responses available: Unemployed; <$10,000; $10,000-$19,999; $20,000-$29,999; $30,000-$39,999; $40,000-$49,999; $50,000-$74,999; $75,000-$100,000; $1000,000-$150,000; >$150,000.

[8] Survey question: Included in heading. Responses available: Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree (omitted), Disagree, Strongly Disagree. The same format was used for this and subsequent three graphics.

[9] Survey question: Please rank which app features or qualities are most important to you in this type of app. Responses available: Good user reviews; Security and confidentiality; Convenience and ease of use; Featured product quality; Featured product prices.

[10] Survey question: Which of the following sounds like the best Friday night to you? Responses available: Relaxing with my friends or partner, enjoying pizza and a good movie; Going on a midnight hike with friends or loved ones; Dancing at a club, meeting new people, staying out all night; Dinner and game night with my family; Heading to the bar where all my friends hang out; Spending it on my own with a good book, a bath, and/or a glass of wine.

[11] Survey question: Last week, roughly how many times did you eat fast food (such as hamburgers, pizza, fried chicken, or burritos)? Response range available: 0 (Not at all) – 21 (Three times a day), in increments of one.

[12] Survey question: Included in heading. Responses available: Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree (omitted), Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

[13] Survey question: Please select one cannabis product that you have purchased in the past 2 weeks: Category. Responses available: Concentrates; Edibles; Flower; Other.

[14] Survey question: How many different cannabis products have you purchased in the past 2 weeks? Responses available: 0; 1; 2; 3; 4+.

[15] Survey question: You will be asked the next set of questions for each different cannabis product that you have purchased in the past two weeks (up to four times). Please answer questions based on the product whose name is displayed in the question. How much did you spend on your most recent purchase of (product)? Response range available: $0 - $250, in $25 increments.

[16] Survey question: How often do you currently use or medicate using cannabis? Responses available: Every day; 5-6 days per week; 3-4 days per week; 1-2 days per week; 1-3 times per month; Less than once per month; Never.

[17] Survey question: Why did you purchase (product) again? Responses available: I liked the taste; The dosage suited my needs/tolerance level; trust the brand to give me a consistent experience; It was the least expensive product of its type; It was the most discreet form of consumption; My friends purchase the same product; It is organic, while others are not; It is gluten free, while others are not; It is lab certified, while others are not; Other (Please Specify).

[18] Survey question: The first thing that draws me to a new brand is usually… Responses available: A friend, sales person or family member’s recommendation; An advertisement I saw about it; Social media references to or ratings of the brand’s products; Attractive packaging; A better price than comparable brands; Availability at my local dispensary; Other (Please Specify).

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