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How to Reach Legacy Cannabis Users

At last count, around 5.3 million Canadians, or 18%, use cannabis for one reason or another. Some use it to relax or relieve stress, some use it to sleep better or improve their mood, and some just want to have fun. Of those 5.3 million Canadians, around 45% reported using cannabis at least once per week, according to the most recent National Cannabis Survey from Statistics Canada. These numbers haven’t changed much since legalization, so these numbers may represent legacy users, consumers who were partaking in cannabis pre-legalization.

According to a report from Canopy Rivers, demand for value-brand dried flower ($6.50/gram or lower) has increased by 20% this year, and they believe that legacy users deserve the credit. LPs and retailers are starting to realize that the more experienced cannabis connoisseur is a key market when it comes to selling flower.

Who are “Legacy Users”?

Anyone from a college kid to a retiree could be a legacy user. There isn’t an “average” type of person in this group, with demographics ranging from millennials up to Boomers. Typically statistics skew towards a majority of male legacy users at around 29%, however, 21% of women frequently use cannabis as well. Here are some fun consumer personas I came across to give you an idea of who might represent this group: Single Yuppies, Liberal Elite, Boomerangs, Old Stoners, Typical Stoners, and Stressed-Out Millennials.

Why Do They Use Cannabis?

According to a report from Brightfield Group, a large section of daily cannabis consumers are using it for medical reasons, with documentation or without, to help relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia. Recreational users use cannabis as a part of their daily routine, making life a little more fun or chilled out.

In a separate analysis, Brightfield asked daily cannabis consumers whether they preferred to “Wake and Bake” or indulge in a “Late Night Toke”. The results were split nearly down the middle, however, it illuminated the importance of meeting consumers’ wants and needs.

For example, the analysis showed that generally, younger users preferred to smoke in the morning because they feel that cannabis helps their emotional wellbeing and keeps their creativity and focus up during the day. Older personas like the Boomerangs tend to consume in the evening because they need help sleeping or managing chronic pain.

What Do They Want?

While each segment of these daily users might have different needs and wants, they all agreed that the most important factors in choosing their cannabis are that the product achieves the desired effects and that the product meets their expectations on price, smell, and taste.

If they have been consuming cannabis since before legalization, legacy users are likely used to showing up at their buddy’s house and buying a bag of whatever they’ve got. The interaction typically consists of smelling the product and maybe partaking in a free sample before making a purchase. This means that, at best, legacy users may be delighted by a few more options, but typically don’t care about the bells and whistles.

Before legalization, respondents to the National Cannabis Survey reported that after quality and safety, the lowest price was the most important consideration to them, so it’s no surprise that value-brand dried flower has been taking off with this crowd.

How to Reach Them

With 51% of Legacy Users still shopping on the illicit market, retailers and LPs still have a long way to go before they capture their attention. However, focusing on value products is the first step. Prices have to come down before the budget-conscious connoisseur will shop exclusively in the regulated market. Not only that, but retailers will also have to match the convenience of the illicit market–a large feat with only a handful of provinces offering delivery.

Legacy Users know that the illicit market already has a handle on price, potency and value, but data shows that if the regulated market can match it and make the value and price meet customers’ expectations, they will maybe–just maybe–be willing to migrate to the legal market.