In our third deep dive into attitudinal segmentations of Americans’ perception of cannabis, we surveyed residents in three specific groups of U.S. states: states where cannabis is not legal in any form, states where it is legal for medicinal purposes, and states where recreational use has been legalized. Through these reports we sought to track and understand what people like about cannabis, how they use it, and how they perceive the marketing efforts of brands in the cannabis industry.
By looking at these attitudinal segments through this geographic breakdown we were able to gain insights into the impact legalization is having on potential and actual consumers in these different areas, as well as efforts by entrepreneurs to establish themselves in this quickly evolving market.
In this overview, we provide an early glimpse into a couple of the many important and surprising findings about cannabis branding and insights about medical use we garnered from our survey data.
Cannabis Consumers’ Psychographics & Our Unique Attitudinal Segments
When we completed our first Cannabis Market Brand Attitudes Report in 2014 we identified four distinct attitudinal segments, clustered by worldview and their perception of cannabis legalization and use. We then tracked these same groupings in our 2016 report as well as our latest 2018 report. They are:
The Indies: These legalization supporters and cannabis consumers are independent, free-thinkers whose “live, let live” attitude have been a part of the marijuana culture before legalization. They feel vindicated that the rest of the world is finally moving toward widespread legalization and are interested in cannabis brands and marketing strategies.
The Outsiders: This large and diverse demographic is active indoors and out, working and playing in groups and teams. They’re “outsiders” because they don’t take vocal positions on cannabis. They’re generally supportive of legalization and like to cut loose with cannabis on occasion. This group of economically struggling Americans has experienced the most change since 2014, moving more toward the attitudes of the Indies.
The Idealists: These folks are more in favor of the idea of change and progress than specifically focused on marijuana legalization. While they strongly support your right to consume cannabis legally, they are not big participants in the market. Consequently, they’re not too hot on following cannabis brands or commercialization.
The Traditionalists: This large demographic doesn’t want to see cannabis culture spread. They are older, wealthier and against changing the status quo. They are very unlikely to shop for cannabis.
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Cannabis Brands Still Aren’t Connecting
One of the most important findings in the 3rd wave of our report, is that even in states with legal recreational use there’s still very little awareness of cannabis brands. We’ll have more details and strategies related to this discovery in our upcoming full report. But, in short, it shows there is an opportunity for brands to reveal and assert themselves in highly competitive markets.
Another related early insight came in response to questions about the difference between a cannabis brand designed for medical or recreational use. Our data shows that most people are confused about the difference or just don’t know if there is one. Again, we’ll have more on this in our final report, but this too signals an opportunity to stand out with a well-crafted, research-supported brand position.
“In lieu of a clearly defined differentiator, consumers look at price and convenience when asked what would encourage an initial purchase,” explains Canna-Ventures founder and survey architect Eric Layland.
The takeaway here is that brands must develop a defensible position that delivers value sought by consumers and support their positions with actions. Our coming executive summary and full report will provide you the platform from which to begin developing your position in the market.
As Legalization Spreads, So Does Likelihood to Try
Early results from our survey data out of non-legal states also provides a glimpse into how consumers are responding to widening legalization. We found that they are increasingly likely to purchase marijuana flower in small amounts and try lower-THC products once recreational cannabis is available.
This is just one more example of the insights we’re gaining from the geographic design of our third cannabis consumer survey. Exploring attitudes in the three stages of cannabis legality is proving to be an insightful companion to our demographic segments.
Measuring Perceptions: Cannabis vs. Big Pharma
Finally, one of the most revealing insights we’ve gleaned so far from our data has to do with medical marijuana. In all three groups of states — non-legal, medically approved, and legal recreational use — respondents said they believe cannabis has the potential to be more effective than pharmaceuticals for the treatment of pain, sleepless and anxiety or depression.
While this opens the door to helping consumers identify the best cannabis for their medical needs, medical use is also a complex terrain to navigate legally. We’ll have more on this in our full report as well.
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An essential element is a healthy business ecosystem are frameworks for acceptable practices. These result in strategies and tactics that lead to wide consumer choices of respected brands. This report shares insights we’ve uncovered through proprietary research into the interest and motivations of consumers by understanding their worldview. For it’s when we understand what motivates emotional connections that we can deliver experiences that genuinely meet consumer needs.