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Who Are Your Customers? Unmasking Cannabis Consumers


There is a myriad of negative stereotypes many of those in mainstream culture use to describe marijuana consumers.  The truth is, there is no one type of person who smokes or eats or vapes marijuana. Marijuana consumers are an extremely diverse group of people, which can make finding the target audience for your particular marijuana product, that much more difficult. While the information out there gives quite a broad spectrum of data, it might help shrug off preconceived perceptions we might hold about marijuana consumers, so that marijuana businesses can feel confident in expanding their messaging.

Dubious Demos

Official government statistics from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) are a little old, but they help identify the most prevalent marijuana consumers and illustrate what the average marijuana consumer looks like. The study says that there were 17 million current marijuana users in 2009 and that 2.4 million of those were newer users. More current information is available from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. With their 2012 numbers, they put the average age of marijuana users between 18-20 years old, which of course remains illegal. Their information also tells a useful story for marijuana businesses. 20 percent of 21 to 25-year-olds, 14.6% of 21 to 29-year-olds, and 13.2% of 30 to 34-year olds are regular users. Those numbers are also on the rise. Interestingly, that study also found that use among people in their 50s is rising even faster than younger demographics. States are also trying to put together their own picture of marijuana use as it pertains to the individual markets.

Broad and Growing Base of Cannabis Consumers

Recent studies looking closer at economic and race demographics have added a real democratizing effect to the understanding of marijuana use. Looking at the use of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco as it pertained to economic levels, the National Library of Medicine published a 2008 study that reversed old stereotypes. “Higher neighborhood median income and income maldistribution were found to be associated with a greater likelihood of current individual alcohol use and marijuana use,” the study read. Last year, the ACLU released a study comparing racial statistics on marijuana use. They found that both whites and Blacks used marijuana at similar rates.  “Despite the pronounced disparities in arrest rates of whites and Blacks for marijuana possession, rates of marijuana use and non-use between whites and Blacks are roughly equal.”

We Are Everywhere

The nation’s top statistical analytical institutes put together a scant picture of the average marijuana user. Besides generally being of a younger age, multiracial and more affluent, the numbers don’t give a good impression for specifics. The picture is only made broader with further information. The Huffington post outlined notable celebrity users and it only goes to show that ‘canna-sseurs’ can come from anywhere. All of this points to the fact that marijuana businesses should be both specific and flexible in their messaging. If you want to market towards that growing group of 50-year-olds, have at it! Just know that messaging which appeals to 18 year-old boys, most likely won’t have the same effect on the 50+ crowd. Of course, if you want to learn more about what these users would like to see out of marijuana product brands, you can always take a good look at our own market research study. Our free summary is available via download and the full report is available for purchase.

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