4 Key Differences Between The Florida And California Cannabis Consumer
The Sunshine State and the Golden State don't see eye to eye, but there are also some interesting similarities.
America’s cannabis industry is a fractured marketplace. A scattered hodgepodge of state, county, and local municipalities piecing together a byzantine set of rules and regulations that seem to defy logic and common sense. And don’t even get me started about the social media restrictions.
Figuring out which hoops brands have to jump through within each state takes up enormous resources. But the fog of this minutiae can cloud the bigger picture: Do you know who your audience truly is?
To define how consumer psychographics can vary from state to state, we at The Statement Group dug into the analytics of cannabis consumers in Florida and California. While Florida is a medical-only state, it is a growing powerhouse with massive potential that will only increase as restrictions loosen. And California is already the largest legal cannabis market on the planet.
Below are four notable macro-level takeaways on the behavioral interests and psychographic makeup of each state’s consumers. We define those consumers by analyzing the millions of connections across those following a cross-section of brands in each state.
This analysis gives us the ability to understand the broad differences in interests (can you guess which state loves Porsche more?), as well as digs deep into the data to find the granular passions specific to each brand. We get insights into everything from which influencers their audience actually follows most, to the publications and other brands they consume. Answering these questions is vital for brands to build laser-focused marketing strategies and create deeper connections with their target audience.
1. The military matters in Florida
Our analysis has shown that the Florida consumer is an astounding 310 percent more likely to have an interest in the military than the California consumer. This isn’t to say that the military isn’t a key component in the California market, but it does stress something I’ve seen in my time in the cannabis industry: the veteran community is often overlooked by cannabis marketing.
As an example, while I was CCO of Civilized, we produced a video series called “First High.” The episode involving a military veteran was by far the most popular—with nearly two million views. As more research uncovers the potential positive medical benefits of cannabis with ailments such as post-traumatic stress disorder, stigmas are falling within the military community. The fact that Florida is a medical-only state reinforces that demographics and psychographics that lean towards the medical side of cannabis would have a greater interest in that state.
2. Influencers are important in both states
While the types and specific handles vary greatly between states, it’s interesting to note that influencers resonate in both Florida and California. Given the continued restrictions around cannabis marketing across the nation, influencers play a key role in cannabis brands' abilities to reach their target consumers. And while influencer marketing has a varied reputation, a recent study showed that 42 percent of Gen-Z made a purchase decision based on an influencer’s recommendation. This isn’t a marketing channel cannabis brands in any state can ignore.
3. Sports are a way of life
Sports are extremely important in both Florida and California, but which sports vary greatly from state to state. While basketball rules the Golden State, golf dominates Florida with a whopping 210 percent more interest in the Sunshine State than compared to California. Football was nearly universally loved, baseball had a slight edge in Florida, and tennis and outdoor recreational sports like hiking ruled California.
When it comes to ring-based sports, Florida loves the WWE, while California tilted in favor of the UFC. One other notable finding: Both states had great interest in all sports, but the individual athletes who resonated in each varied greatly.
4. Cannabis use crosses political lines
In not-so-surprising results, the Florida consumer skews much more conservative when compared to California; which makes sense given the politics of each state. But there are two clear takeaways as we dig into the data. First, it’s important for brands in Florida to remember that, despite stereotypes, conservatives appear to enjoy cannabis just as much as liberals. Brands in Florida should make sure to avoid alienating those on the right across channels like partnership, social media, and marketing. Second, this finding arguably means more for California brands.
So what does some of this mean? My hypothesis is that when you look deeper, the California/Florida data proves that cannabis isn’t a one-party product. Which influencers, types of music, sports, publications, etc. that resonate between each state and brand will always vary. But in terms of overall consumption, it’s about access.
In Florida, anyone with a medical card can go buy gummies. In California, if you live 200 miles from the coast, it’s likely much harder to get. And, as more conservative-leaning areas open up their retail cannabis sales (and an increased number of delivery services expand access), more conservative-leaning consumers will be coming online.
Despite its reputation, there are still a lot of conservatives in California. As more conservative communities gain access to cannabis in that state, we’ll see if they line up closer to the Florida psychographics. How will brands respond?
These are just a fraction of the insights we have access to within each state. What we’ve learned is that there is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan for cannabis brands -- no matter what state you’re in. But what is clear is that the brands that have the tools to reach their potential consumers will be the ones that emerge on top.