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10 Segments of Cannabis Consumers

Cannabis consumers are a diverse group and BDSA has developed ten unique segments based on its consumer research conducted in the first quarter of 2020.

At the highest level, BDSA divides respondents into:

  • Consumers: those who report consuming cannabis within the past six months;
  • Acceptors: who do not currently consume cannabis but are open to it; and
  • Rejecters: who do not use cannabis and are not open to it.

As expected, respondents from Consumer segments are more likely to be in favour of legalization than Acceptors and Rejecters. That is especially true of those in the two biggest Consumer segments: “recreationalists” and “socializers”, each representing 7% of respondents. Two other segments, “medically motivated” and “medical misgivings,” whose members consume mostly for health reasons are mostly opposed to full legalization. Consumers in those segments are also less likely to opt for inhalable products, preferring edibles and topicals. The “medical misgivings” segment is the fastest growing segment increasing 50% from Q1 2019 to Q1 2020. These consumers are most likely to be cautious of full cannabis legalization and believe that more testing and research is needed to learn of the potential risks. While significant portions of all Consumer segments report going to medical or adult-use retailers, all but “cannabis advocate,” commonly obtain their cannabis through a friend or family member.

Those grouped into the Non-consumer segments hold a diverse array of opinions on cannabis, ranging from those in the “complete rejecter” segment, who remain almost completely opposed to legalization, to the “legally limited” segment, of which 96% agree with full legalization. Respondents in Non-consumer segments cite several reasons for not consuming, the most common being that it does not fit their lifestyle. Non-consumers tend to be older and hold more conservative views on cannabis than Consumers, with complete rejecters at a mean age of 51. When asked which types of cannabis they would consider consuming, non-consumers are far more likely to consider topicals or edibles than inhalable cannabis.

While there are still some who remain fully opposed to cannabis, both personally and politically, those who are either currently Consumers or open to trying cannabis made up the vast majority of those surveyed. Of those who are open to cannabis, one issue preventing them from becoming Consumers is lack of legal access, a problem that will be easily remedied as legalization expands access across the United States and more stores open in Canada. Aside from the inevitable spread of legalization turning over some of these Non-consumers, those in the industry can push to expand the pool of consumers by focusing on education. By providing information about the ways cannabis can fit into different lifestyles and how safe legal cannabis products are, it is possible that a large portion of those Non-consumers could be brought into the pool of Consumers, and greatly expand the size of the total legal market.