The Changing Demographics of Cannabis

This blog first appeared on my website, Jessica Reilly Writer.

Weed smokers are getting older.

While the stereotype of the weed smoker is someone in their late teens or early 20s toking it up in Mom’s basement, the data says otherwise. Nationwide cannabis sales increased 67% in 2020, and 30% of cannabis consumers are 55+.

Cannabis use by middle age and older adults has been on the rise for decades. Since 2002, cannabis use has increased 50% in the 45-to-54 age group, 455% in the 55-to-64 age group, and 333% with people 65+.

Together, Boomers and Gen X make up 40% of the medical market and 34% of the recreational market, with these numbers increasing YOY. If you’re only marketing to millennials or people who are already comfortable with cannabis, you’re missing a large part of the growing consumer base.

Cannabis & Gen X

There are 82 million Gen X’ers in the US. Born between 1965 and 1977, Gen X came of age during the war on drugs, but today they’re a rapidly increasing consumer of different kinds of cannabis.

While millennials still rank first for consumption in legal states across the board, Gen X isn’t too far behind. In fact, Gen X’ers spend the most money per dispensary visit of any of the generations and their preferences mirror the preferences of the average cannabis consumer. 60% prefer to smoke, 30% prefer edibles and 10% prefer to use cannabis topically. Interestingly, cannabis user is increasing in Gen X women faster than Gen X men.

Marketing Cannabis to Gen X

Sandwiched in between the masses of Boomers and Millennials, Gen X is often lost and overlooked by marketers. But there’s a unique opportunity for the cannabis industry to cater to them. In fact, Gen X’ers tend to be the most brand loyal of the generations before or after them, so establishing yourself now will find out will loyal customers down the road.

So how do you target this “lost generation”? Flow Hub recommends using email marketing and Facebook. while these tactics have fallen in favor with younger generations, they remain strong with Gen X.

Cannabis & Boomers

Baby Boomers grew up with free love, free drugs, and the general hippie mindset. While they became increasingly conservative as they aged, this trend is now reversing itself. Boomer consumption grew by 67% in 2019 and 5% in 2020. The stagnation in 2020 can be largely attributed to the Coronavirus pandemic and the older generations unwillingness to put themselves at risk.

With the increase in legality of medical cannabis, people who would have had a hard time finding cannabis previously are suddenly able to get it with a few clicks and a drive to the store. And as the older generations find themselves increasingly stiff, sore, achey and sleepless, cannabis is there to make it better. Since cannabis has been proven to be more effective and less addictive with combating chronic pain, 20% of cannabis users 65+ said a doctor told them to try it.

Marketing Cannabis to Boomers

With the highest disposable income of the generations with buying power, Boomers are not a demographic you want to leave out of your marketing. Flow Hub recommends focusing on retail marketing for Boomers, since they grew up with brick and motor stores. But don’t underestimate this generation either- they make 20% more online purchases than millennials. Make your text large and easily readable, and provide video information wherever possible. Additionally, know your audience and why they consumer. Boomers suffer from many aches and pains, and 90% of Boomer consumers (that’s fun to say) believe cannabis alleviates these.

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