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Who is Buying Recreational Cannabis?

Cannabis brands in Canada are having a tough time cultivating the brand awareness that seems to permeate other consumer industries, according to a recently released report by Brightfield. This is not surprising given the severe packaging restrictions demanded by Health Canada.

The report claims that no one brand has more than a 41% market share, while most brands were under 15%. Comparatively, most popular brands in a similar industry, like natural supplements, have brand recognition of 50% or higher.

Whether or not brand awareness means anything in an industry like cannabis, companies are still trying to find ways to reach consumers and convince them to buy their product over others, however, not all cannabis consumers are looking for the same thing.

Cannabis Buyer Personas

After collecting information from over 30,000 respondents over two years, Brightfield created four distinct cannabis buyer personas.

So who are they, what do they want, and how do you, as a brand, give it to them?

Typical Stoner

The Typical Stoner persona is just what it sounds like—a legacy cannabis user who just wants some good bud at a good price. They are not fussy about flashy labels. Most just want a quality cultivar with a decent percentage of THC and don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it. Most brands already have a fairly good grasp on this group since they make up a healthy portion of customers.

Stressed-out Millennials

This group is similar to the first in that they want quality and a good price, however, Millennials can be willing to shell out a little more cash to a brand whose values and ethics line up with theirs. They are also more partial to labels, and respond more than the Typical Stoner to fun, aesthetically pleasing packaging. Millennials are the root of the information generation, so the brand story and a strong social media presence could be the key to unlocking this group.


The key to engaging new cannabis users is making entry as easy as possible. According to the report, Newbies respond best to simple packaging—products get extra points if they’re Canadian themed. To someone who has never tried it before, the culture of cannabis can be intimidating and these buyers need to be given the opportunity to dip their toes in the waters before diving in. Pre-rolls, disposable vapes, and lots of education in-store and online are great ways for your brand to give them a warm welcome.

Microdosing Mamas

This is another new group of cannabis users that could use a little bit of support. Rather than fully buying into cannabis culture, a lot of Microdosing Mamas are looking for reassurance that it’s okay to take a little nibble of an edible before playing with your kids, or taking a few hits off of a vape for stress relief. This can be accomplished by providing a calm, uplifting message with concepts like “awaken”, “live in the now”, “elevate” and so on rather than Typical Stoner phrases. Remember that this group is looking for stress relief and relaxation.

Moving Forward

With a relatively new industry like cannabis, it’s difficult to tell if brand awareness is really what pulls the trigger on purchasing for cannabis users, but in the meantime, brands should give serious consideration to how they are marketing, who they are marketing to, and whether it’s effective.

The best way to reach all of these groups is to diversify the products that you offer and speak specifically to each group, rather than trying to find a one-size-fits-all message. Each group has its own set of expectations for cannabis brands, and if your brand can’t fulfill them, they will go to a different one that will.

Read the report at

Tags: Brightfield Group (19), Cannabis brands (1), cannabis buyer personas (1), Cannabis Marketing (39)