Since legalization, the cannabis landscape in Canada has been an ever-evolving ecosystem. Coupled with the pandemic which shuttered stores, drove substantial e-commerce growth, and disrupted life as we’d known it, the industry is still in flux. However, for all the seismic change, one thing is clear—consumption is on the rise.
The details of the sector’s evolution are in the numbers. Data, analytics, and marketing services company Environics Analytics, and Caddle Inc., the largest daily active research panel in the Canadian market, teamed up to produce insights which were presented at RCC’s Retail Cannabis Forum 2022. Together, we’ve been measuring and tracking insights and attitudes of Canadian cannabis consumers, down to granular details like store geography and purchase decision-making. Now, we’re leveraging these figures in an exclusive information session for brands and retailers to share what the numbers tell us about the path to purchase –– and how it’s changed.
Cannabis usage in Canada continues to grow. In the last three years alone, the number of people aged 19 and older (21 and up in Quebec) who say they’re current users is up from 24.7% to 27.4%. The increase comes in part because of the pandemic, which Canadians say has increased their use since March of 2020.
Reasons for Use
But it’s not just the pandemic alone –– recreational use is also contributing to the growing consumption. The number of Canadians who say their cannabis use is recreationally-motivated is nearly double the 9.5% of people who use for medical reasons. But if attitudes are any indicator, that number could grow. Two-thirds of Canadians say they see cannabis as an alternative form of treatment for conditions like anxiety, pain management, and even mental health. Indeed, with less than 25% of people surveyed opposed to the legal sale of THC and CBD compared to 34% in 2019, it’s clear that there’s been a tide change in public opinion.
Increasing Social Acceptance
That shifting social perception is no doubt playing a role in the usage increases we’re seeing. We’ve come a long way since 2018. Now, a whopping 56% of Canadians believe herb is socially acceptable compared to just 43% in the first year cannabis became legal. It has become far more positively perceived than tobacco products which are only seen by 28% of people surveyed as socially acceptable.
More Education Needed
But despite a higher, more favourable public profile, there’s lots of work to be done in order to educate the public on how cannabis works and what different products are available to them. When it comes to usage format, nearly three quarters of Canadian users buy cannabis in flower or bud, but adoption of edibles has grown 11% since 2019. There’s still an enormous gap however, in understanding even rudimentary concepts. For example, only 34.7% of Canadians of legal-age said they understand the difference between THC and CBD. This could be due to more stringent rules around advertising cannabis products. Marketing including promotions, displays, labelling, and packaging of cannabis and related goods and services is heavily restricted.
With those gaps though comes opportunity for brands. Indeed, consumers are willing to learn and see brands as experts. More than three-quarters say they look to cannabis companies to teach them about the effects and various uses of their products. With understanding will likely come greater adoption as consumers realize there’s no one-size-fits-all approach and there’s a litany of options to choose from to accommodate their own personal needs.
A lot of that decision-making happens in the retail aisle. Pandemic notwithstanding, most buyers are still showing up in-store to buy their cannabis. Understanding where the gaps in knowledge lie and what consumers look for when choosing a product is critical for any brand or retailer looking to navigate what’s become a competitive market.
All data presented in this article is by EA CannabisInsights powered by Vividata.
Copyright © 2022 by Environics Analytics (EA) & Caddle Inc. Source: ©2021 EA CannabisInsights powered by Vividata.