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The Surprising Truth About the Target Market for Cannabis

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Are you targeting the right personas for your cannabis business? Here is a look at how to take on a better approach to cannabis marketing.

Key takeaways:

  • As cannabis use continues to increase and become legal in more states, brands need to diversify how they view the typical cannabis user
  • Five common cannabis personas to incorporate into your marketing strategy:
    1. Medicinal users
    2. Parents
    3. Professionals
    4. Creatives
    5. Experts


When running a cannabis business, you need to know who you’re marketing to. Older marijuana pop culture might have portrayed the typical marijuana user to look like the stoned, couch-surfing, messy-haired dude in his early twenties. But, the actual demographics of cannabis consumers are as diverse as the products being sold in dispensaries.

Today’s cannabis customers have broken out of these stereotypes and are proving to be more deliberate and discernable consumers. This is especially true as cannabis use has been made legal in three quarters of states in the U.S., whether for recreational or medical use. An estimated 12% of Americans consume cannabis, and the cannabis industry is made up of 44% millennials, 23% Gen X, and 20% Gen Z, with Baby Boomers coming in last at 13%.

In a recent study from dutchie, of 5,000 adult cannabis consumers, it was found that

"today’s cannabis consumers are successful, motivated, and health-conscious individuals."

People use cannabis for many other purposes beyond just feeling high, and many take it to focus or be more mindful.

Why does this information matter to cannabis brands? Because understanding your buyer personas is a key component to generating and disseminating the right messaging to the right people. If you are still marketing to the old-school stoner, then you won’t attract and convert leads. Period.

Let’s walk through the cannabis personas you need to know for more successful marketing.


1. Medicinal users

As the name suggests, these users treat cannabis just like any other prescribed medicine. Medicinal users consume marijuana for ailments like body pain, migraines, insomnia, and anxiety.

"There are some 3.6 million state-legal medical cannabis patients out there."

These users typically use cannabis for therapeutic reasons, not recreational. In your marketing efforts, try communicating with them by highlighting hybrids or products containing indica strains, which enable more of a full-body benefit. Focus on all the ways cannabis can help them.


2. Parents

Now that recreational marijuana is quickly being legalized nationwide, and the taboo of consuming cannabis is being lifted, many parents are just as likely to light a joint after the kids go to bed as they are to grab a beer or pour themselves a glass of wine. 

Pot-using parents tend to fall into two categories:

  • Younger parents who are more experimental when it comes to different types of cannabis and methods of consumption
  • Older parents who generally have deeply rooted methods and motivations for buying and using marijuana

This distinction is important for cannabis brands to keep in mind as they tailor their marketing communications. For those who are less likely to change their method of smoking from the way they did it in their earlier years, it’s important to highlight more traditional forms of cannabis, like flowers. For the younger, more experimental parents, it’s best to focus on a strong variety of products now on the market, like edibles, beverages, tinctures, and vape pens.


3. Professionals

One study found that 18% of adults employed full-time and 21% employed part-time used cannabis in the last year. Many of these users aren’t consuming it to party but to unwind after a long workday or after taking care of kids. Adult users are now focused on their career, family, and overall quality of life. 

Professionals are generally the target market for brands that want to advertise their products to assist in mental health and overall wellness. It is also important to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding the use of cannabis, as some working people still hold on to that antiquated stoner stereotype. Try speaking to them through an education-focused approach, highlighting comprehensive data and case studies.


4. Creatives

Artists and creatives are a staple in the cannabis community, and they will generally use marijuana to enhance their creative vision and concentration. This group often uses sativa-focused products to help them boost productivity and have more energy. These effects can help them enhance their creative focus.

To reach this subset of users, try mentioning specific influential people in the creative community who excelled in their area of expertise with the help of cannabis. Talk about how cannabis can contribute to greater focus, backed by science and the latest research. This will provide them with an inspirational incentive to choose you the next time they need to restock and get to work.


5. Experts

The next category is comprised of users who pride themselves on knowing just about everything about cannabis. They know the different methods of consumption, the various strains, and which strain should be used at which times. These individuals may even find jobs within the cannabis industry to help customers find the right products for their needs.

These consummate experts are passionate about cannabis culture, and therefore much more willing to spend top dollar for high-quality goods and paraphernalia than other types of users. 

If you want to target the experts, arm them with information. Provide bud-to-bowl stories on how the product was grown, nurtured, harvested, and prepared.

"Cannabis experts thrive on uncovering the hidden gems, and they love sifting through unique product offerings and background information to find them."


Learn how to reach each persona

The most important takeaway is that there is no one type of marijuana consumer. Many users in today’s cannabis culture are educated, diverse, and cultured, which is far from the antiquated stereotype of the typical stoner.

"As more states legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use, the pool of those willing to partake will only grow and become more diverse."

If you want to get ahead, it’s important to know, understand, and segment your target audiences and buyer personas. What may be a selling point for one group may not pack a punch for another. 

For example, talking more about the growing process won’t appeal to someone looking for a quick answer to how to reduce stress with cannabis products. On the other hand, marketing only the product’s side effects won’t be enough for the experts who need to know more about how the product was made.

Remember that deliberate, targeted, and quality branding efforts will always win. And you will only be successful once you understand your target audience thoroughly.

Learn more about creating a marketing roadmap for your cannabis brand, or reach out to ContentBacon to learn about our content subscriptions.

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