The cannabis industry has blown way past a tipping point, with cannabis sales projected to reach more than $22 billion by 2022, according to Flowhub. Currently, 17 states have legalized cannabis for adults 21+ and 37 states have approved cannabis for medical use. So what cannabis market and consumer trends should you be watching for as we approach 2022?
We’ll get to that in a moment, but for now, imagine a time when, across the U.S., at least, dispensaries and cannabis cafes are as commonplace as Starbucks and ordering edibles is as easy as getting pizza. Medical cannabis is prescribed by primary care physicians and specialists, and the stigma is a distant memory. A time when, hopefully, equity and inclusion is the norm, not the exception.
As the cannabis industry matures, so will products, services, and consumer expectations. The weed of our youth, which was about as refined and potent as oregano has been replaced by craft cannabis and medical cannabis that is lab tested and researched by renowned scientists and researchers. Technological advances in cannabis are helping with everything from automating cultivation processes to customer retention to reporting and compliance.
Savvy cannabis companies are carefully digging into consumer data and analytics to further refine their brands and products, and stay ahead of the competition.
A Brave New World of Weed
As we approach 2022, it seemed apropos to look ahead at some of the most important and impactful cannabis market trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the months and years to come. Here what we’re watching:
- Products grounded in research and science. Did you know that since 2010, nearly 23,000 scientific papers have been published about cannabis and the numbers continue to grow dramatically. Yes, despite claims to the contrary, cannabis is one of the most studied drugs in the world. According to an article in CannabisTech, cannabis manufacturers are increasingly partnering with research facilities to do research to prove the efficacy of their formulations and monitor the absorption rate of their cannabinoids.
- Brand and consumer value alignment. Savvy and socially aware consumers want spend money on products and brands that align with their values, whether that’s sustainability, diversity and inclusion, social justice, LGBTQ rights, or something else that is personally meaningful. The companies that are transparent and authentic about their values, and that walk the walk will be the ones that stand out and generate greater brand loyalty and revenue.
- Mainstream cannabis use and acceptance. When every media outlet from Vogue to the Wall Street Journal covers cannabis, you know it’s no longer “edgy” or even “up and coming.” Consumers from moms to business leaders to veterans to Boomers are embracing plant medicine for self-care, wellness and health. Very soon, smoking a joint or taking an edible will be about as controversial as having a glass of Merlot.
- Data driven marketing. Guessing what your customers want is no longer an option. With all the market and demographic data that’s available, there’s no excuse not to dive deeply into data and analytics to refine your brand and optimize your marketing strategy. For example, buyer personas like Microdosing Mamas and Boomerangs each have their own habits and preferences. According to The Brightfield Group, “businesses need to understand their current and prospective consumers in order to effectively market products and grow their company.” In other words, know thy customer (and consumer data) or get left in the dust.
- Beyond THC and CBD. THC and CBD may be the OG cannabanoids, but other cannabanoids and terpenes like CBN, CBG, THCA, THCV are gaining traction and more research dollars. In addition, strains labeled indica, sativa or hybrid or with names like Gorilla Glue and Wedding Crasher (a personal favorite) will increasingly be replaced by a scientifically supported classification system. This system will more accurately correlates to evidence-based effects and indications for cannabis compounds.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least mention two critically important factors when it comes to the growth and maturation of the cannabis industry: Legalization and legislation.
Companies need to stay well informed and up-to-date on the quickly changing legalization landscape so that they can move quickly as rules and regulations change. This goes for manufacturers, growers, retailers, distributors and everyone else along the supply chain as well as ancillary companies and professional service providers.
The more knowledgeable and informed you are, the more you’ll be able to stay competitive and nimble in the months and years ahead.