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What’s the Biggest Growth Market?

‘Fish where the fish are’ is the opening refrain in a new report from Deloitte, meant to encourage cannabis retailers to look to the people who have been buying cannabis all along.

According to the report, existing consumers, which it defines as respondents to its survey who had consumed cannabis before September 2020 and continued to do so after, are the biggest potential growth market for the industry. Deloitte’s survey revealed that these existing customers consumed 75% of Canada’s cannabis, but only account for 58% of cannabis users.

As exciting as it is to bring newcomers into the wonderful world of cannabis, what can retailers do to continue to delight customers who have ‘been-there-done-that’?

Daily Users

The survey found that 36% of existing customers consider themselves daily users, compared to only 19% of new users. These folks have likely been smoking cannabis for a while, which is why dried flower is their preferred product format (56%), along with edibles (52%) for a change of pace once in a while. Existing users are also more likely to purchase their cannabis from both the licensed and unlicensed sectors, however, it appears that new product formats are bringing them into stores more and more.

A Curious Crowd

After dried flower and edibles, oils are the next most popular format among existing users (36%), along with vape products (21%) and CBD products (21%). According to the report, this group uses cannabis to relax, with 70% saying that it helped them sleep better, and 59% using it to help relieve stress and anxiety. Some also reported using cannabis in place of alcohol (23%). This shift to using cannabis for general wellness, or at least having products available to do so, could be why 56% of existing users prefer a combination of THC and CBD products—and if they’re not buying them, they are definitely thinking about it. Deloitte reports that 31% of respondents in this group expressed interest in purchasing THC-free or CBD products, while only 21% actually did. Similarly, more people were interested in capsules, topicals, and beverages than actually bought them.

Mix It Up

While they can be curious about new products, once existing users find something they like, 29% say they stick to it, and 37% say they enjoy mixing it up with new strains once in a while. The majority know what they want in their cannabis product, and according to Deloitte, this is a huge plus. This discerning view of cannabis and a nuanced approach to choosing a product could open the door to more premium offerings.

The moral of Deloitte’s story is this: see cannabis through your customer’s eyes. Existing customers make up over half of the country’s cannabis users and consume three-quarters of its cannabis—they deserve a bit of attention. With the majority of them being daily users, they want good-quality bud at a good price, but they are looking for more than recreation. By offering information and encouraging them to try new products, retailers can keep this group interested and keep their sales in the licensed market.