Seniors Are the Cannabis Market Few Companies Are Targeting
The cannabis industry's fixation on millennials risks overlooking older consumers who have more money to spend and more health issues to address.
When it comes to the booming cannabis industry, it seems every company is focused on the millennials – and rightfully so. They, along with the upcoming Gen Zers, are the generation more likely to be considered “risk takers,”, currently are the biggest users of cannabis products and companies’ marketing tactics are putting a more youthful, hip spin to cannabis.
And while targeting this demographic provides a plethora of opportunity (what millennial wouldn’t want a CBD-infused matcha almond-milk latte every morning?), companies are missing a huge opportunity by not looking at another demographic: seniors.
As more states begin legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, the older generations -- part of the “conservative experimenter” group, according to Deloitte -- will likely show more interest in it. And with the U.S legal marijuana market expected to hit $40 billion by 2021, there is plenty of opportunity to build out your consumer based to include seniors.
As a internal doctor for over two decades with a speciality in cannabis, I have noticed more seniors asking questions about medical cannabis in the past few years as states continue to legalize it. The elder demographic is becoming more educated about the benefits of cannabis and realizing some of the risks of it may have been overstated. They are turning to cannabis as an alternative solution to treat age-specific ailments, like arthritis.
This group may not be as “sexy” as the younger generation, but they offer unique business opportunities to CBD companies looking to grow their revenue streams. Here are four reasons why you should be looking at seniors for your cannabis company.
1. Seniors spend a lot of money on medication.
While seniors make up much of the prescription market, but as the pharmaceutical industry is putting stress on the older demographic. Indeed, a recent report shows that while generic drug prices have declined, brand drug prices have almost doubled since 2008, and those on Medicare are the ones who feel the brunt of it. Findings show that in 2015, those on Medicare spent $2,000 a year or more out of pocket on brand-name drugs, which is nearly double what was spent just five years prior.
Because of the unpredictableness of the pharmaceutical industry, seniors have and will continue to look for alternative solutions for ailments. Findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that usage of cannabis products among seniors grew by 250 percent between 2006 and 2013. And a report from Deloitte shows an increase likelihood that older generations will use cannabis in the future.
As a company, think about educating the public about your products and services and showcasing the benefits of natural products.
2. Seniors often have multiple health concerns.
Marijuana and CBD have been shown -- either through studies or anecdotally -- to help with a number of health-related issues, many or which seniors have, including those which are specifically age related. The older population must deal with arthritis, insomnia, osteoporosis and everyday aches and pains, among other issues. This a huge opportunity for cannabis companies. Consider having a marketing strategy aimed specifically at addressing these health issues in the older demographic, ensuring you products and services are addressing specific pain points and offering solutions tailored to seniors.
3. Seniors have more disposable income.
Millennials are in college, beginning their career and/or starting a family, so while they may be the hot market they are also broke. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, on the other hand, have fewer responsibilities and obligations. Their kids are grown up, their homes are paid off and their careers are either at a comfortable level, or retirement is a way of life. By controlling 70 percent of the country’s disposable income, older people can spend more on discretionary goods, including cannabis products (avocado toast hasn’t caught on yet).
Consider going beyond fluorescent-colored gummies for anxiety relief to create products and services specific to this market.
4. Brands aren’t spending ad dollars on them.
Younger generations are the biggest consumers of marijuana-based products, meaning brands are devoting a lot of their advertising dollars to them, especially as competition increases and the market gets more crowded.
And while targeting this market provides a lot of Instagram-worthy posts and educational YouTube video clips, it misses the opportunity to focus on those who don’t have their faces glued to a screen. While Baby Boomers have a lot of spending power, advertisers are only allocating 5 percent of their budget to target this group. Take advantage of this – but do it smartly.
People buying cannabis products still prefer the in-store experience, as it provides a time to receive education, learn about offerings and talk to knowledgeable people. Older adults may be nervous going to retailers, so make it an inviting atmosphere and be professional and respectful.