Women and Cannabis: What Nobody Is Talking About
How can brands cater to the changing demographics?
Cannabis is undergoing a reputation makeover. Public perception has gradually shifted to viewing marijuana products as respected medicine and wellness products instead of illegal drugs. These changes in attitudes are likely due to a variety of factors, including new legal markets and increased access, available educational materials, numerous scientific studies, and overall more significant conversations of safety and use on various media platforms and forums.
As perceptions have shifted, the demographics of cannabis consumers have become more diverse in terms of age, gender, and socio-economic status. What many had perceived as a male recreational interest is now becoming a product for all. Interestingly, recent Akerna data shows something new: increased numbers of female consumption and spending habits over the past few years.
In honor of Women's History Month, I wanted to take a moment to highlight these increases in female cannabis consumption and how brands will need to adapt to fit this new consumer's needs.
The numbers don't lie
Our data shows that women now represent the fastest-growing consumer segment within the industry – and they are spending larger amounts of money on cannabis and gaining a larger market share. In fact, women across all legal age groups drove cannabis sales in the first three months of 2020, with the average amount spent by females doubling by 50% by the end of the quarter.
Data from the recent 2021 Valentine's Day weekend continues to show the increase in female consumption, even amid the Covid-19 pandemic and financial crisis, with a 3% year over year shift towards female purchasers. Women made up over 38% of sales in 2021, growing from 35% in 2020.
Catering to the female customer base
Women have traditionally driven most household purchases. With them becoming the fastest-growing consumer segment in the industry, cannabis, CBD, and hemp brands will need to consider female preferences when evaluating their brand identity and bringing new products to market.
We already see this playing out in the CBD industry, with both ingestible and topical products geared towards women, including products for female-specific issues like pain from sex and menstruation.
Female consumers have traditionally expected higher levels of customer service. With many becoming "canna-curious," brands will need to be more responsive to the female experience, tailoring not only products but also the shopping experience, product education, and customer service to meet their needs.
This female influence will lead to an unmistakable impact on cannabis branding.
Rise of the conscious consumer
The past decade has seen another big trend in overall CPG consumption habits, with buyers seeking products from socially responsible brands that practice sustainable behaviors and have philanthropic initiatives.
More recently, consumer needs have evolved to seek brands that provide in-depth information on all the ingredients in or on their bodies, from the ingredient's origin to the journey across multiple businesses and locations, through to the manufacturing processes and distribution destinations. An easy comparison to make is the rise in Farm-to-Table restaurants and offerings. Consumers today want to know where their products came from and how they were traced, transported, and kept to standards.
These consumer demands prompt CPG businesses everywhere to build complete transparency and accessibility into their supply chain, driving the need for these companies to have reliable seed-to-sale tracking platforms. This transparency also creates more confidence for new users entering the market, as it addresses concerns around product safety.
As more legal cannabis markets come online, and as public perception of the products becomes less taboo, cannabis brands will need to evolve to meet the various, unique demographic groups' needs. I'm excited to see how this industry continues to grow as the stigma of cannabis use is dismantled.