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Who are Cannabis Newbies?

When cannabis brands began selling dried flower, it wasn’t that difficult to get people interested. Legalization was new and exciting and as long as it was convenient, recreational brands had a market of legacy users. However, as the novelty wore off and a more authentic picture of consumer habits formed, brands began looking to explore new territory with new products and new customers.

Unlike seasoned smokers, the majority of new consumers considered smoking to be a deterrent to using cannabis, so Licensed Producers (LPs) had hoped to have their own unique line-up of Cannabis 2.0 products to capture those canna-curious customers by December 2019.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

After formulation and packaging hiccups, many brands experienced months-long delays in bringing their product to market. Thankfully, the newbies are still curious and willing to wait.

Who are Cannabis Newbies?

According to a new report from Brightfield Group, around 25% of customers surveyed identified themselves as a new user, AKA someone who has used cannabis for two years or less. The report also says that Newbies are more likely to be single, female, in their twenties or thirties, and more ethnically diverse than experienced users and only 17% of Newbies consider themselves daily users.

Interest in 2.0 Products

Due to the delay in Cannabis 2.0 products hitting the shelves, the majority of the growth in the Newbie market has been in flower. Now that the product has been around for a while, Newbies are starting to feel more comfortable choosing the right product for themselves. During the first quarter of 2020, 28% of Newbies reported using dried flower, but that number rose to 43% in the second quarter. Interestingly, they used Cannabis 2.0 products like gummies (38%), chocolate (27%), drinks (17%) and vapes (16%) at around the same rate through Q1 and Q2.

But wait, if Cannabis Newbies are supposedly so into 2.0 products, why are they buying more flower?

Dried Flower and Pre-rolls

Brightfield reports that it’s likely due to price. We are in the middle of a global pandemic, after all, where Canadians young and old are losing their jobs. Not only that, but 51% of Newbies are under 35, making them notoriously broke millennials and zoomers, so the price point is important. While innovation is still happening in 2.0 products, prices will likely remain a touch too high for budget-conscious Newbies, drawing them to value brands’ pre-rolls and dried flower.

That doesn’t mean that they are not open to trying new things. On the contrary, the more Newbies learn, the more adventurous they become.

CBD Products

Unlike experienced users, they are more likely to experiment with dosages and explore other cannabinoids like CBD. In the second quarter, 30% of Newbies had used a CBD-only product, compared to only 21% of experienced users. Of course, they enjoy their fair share of THC-dominant products as well, however, usage went down to 36% in Q2, compared to 45% in Q1, while usage of balanced and CBD-dominant products increased.

Where They Purchase

Despite their penchant for experimentation, Newbies generally tend to play by the rules. Due to their lack of experience with cannabis, many prefer to purchase their cannabis from licensed retailers rather than from grey or illicit dealers. Only 30% reported getting their cannabis from a non-regulated source, compared to 41% of experienced users.

How to Reach Them

Cannabis Newbies have shown that they are just getting started, and Brightfield reports that this segment will only grow in value over time—but they have to be nurtured. Since they are more likely to purchase from licensed retailers, Newbies may be more open to branding, if done correctly.

They are curious, but careful, about opening their purse mid-pandemic. Keeping price points down will encourage them to try something new. For best results, try an inhalable product, which Brightfield reports is the preferred method of consumption for Newbies, at least until more exciting drinks and edibles hit the market.

Last, but not least, don’t forget that Newbies are into CBD as well and not just looking for the high of THC. They are looking for a more intentional, balanced experience to cure what ails them.

If brands want to keep this positive momentum going, they have to put out a quality product at a good price. This is true for all customer segments, however, to gain the attention of Newbies the best way is to keep innovating.