Who Buys Legal Weed?
by Tyler Durden | Via priceonomics.com | Jul 29, 2016
Marijuana pop culture has traditionally centered around the young male smoker and his high times. But the legalization movement has made marijuana more accessible than ever been before, and cannabis’s application as a painkiller is particularly appealing to senior citizens.
So what does the typical, recreational marijuana user look like today? And how do the preferences and spending habits of groups like young men and senior citizens differ?
We explored these questions by drawing on the data of Headset, a Priceonomics customer with a large dataset of cannabis retailer transaction data. Since many of these cannabis dispensaries have customer loyalty programs, the data includes information about customers’ age and gender. We decided to use to this data to learn more about who buys weed and what they smoke or consume.
The data suggests that smokers in the customer loyalty program are overwhelmingly male, accounting for about 70% of all members. And, while customers range from ages 21 to 95, over 50% of loyalty members are under 40.
We also found that while Flower (your typical marijuana bud) accounts for about half of the purchases made by each demographic, each group has its own quirks. Compared to the opposite sex, men prefer concentrates and women prefer pre-rolls and edibles. Older consumers prefer edibles to pre-rolled joints.
We began our analysis by examining the the customer split by gender. Are men or women more likely to visit cannabis dispensaries often?
Accounting for 68.9% of customers, the ratio of men to women is well over 2:1. This disparity is not surprising given cannabis culture’s emphasis on the male pothead.
Next we examined the distribution of customer age.
25- to 29-year-olds account for the largest percentage of customer loyalty members (20%), followed by 21- to 24-year-olds (16%). Yet the average customer age is 37.6-years-old, which is a higher than one might expect given stereotypes about marijuana users. The average age for female customers is slightly older at 38.2, while the average age for males is 37.4. People ages 65 to 95 make up less than 5% of customers.
We also wanted to look at customer spending habits. Below is the distribution of average dollars spent per trip to the store.
Most people spend between $25 and $50 per trip to a marijuana store, with a $33 median spend per trip. 34.7% of customers spend less than $10 on average, usually picking up a single item like a half gram pre-roll or a carbonated beverage. Only 8.2% spend more than $100/trip.
We also analyzed the distribution of annual spend by customer loyalty members on marijuana. The chart below shows the total amount spent in dispensaries over the last year by customers who have been loyalty members for over one year.
The median customer spends $645 on pot each year, and over 57% of customers spent more than $500. Very few customers—less than 10%—spent over $2,500.
So do different demographics have different shopping habits? To investigate, we first analyzed the marijuana purchasing behavior of loyalty members by gender.
For the most part, men and women have similar shopping and spending habits. Men shop slightly more often, visiting the store about every 19.5 days compared to 21.5 day for women. Although men buy fewer items per trip, they spend almost as much ($33) as women ($35).
Next we looked at these habits segmented by age.
Older loyalty members generally visit dispensaries less frequently, but they spend more when they do visit. Customers in their 80s spend the most per trip, with a median spend per trip of $64. Customers in their 40s, however, spent the most last year: a median of $823.
In a previous blog post, we looked at the most popular types of cannabis products. We were curious to see if the popularity of particular products differed by demographic. The chart below displays the product preferences of men and women.
Flower, which is “traditional” marijuana bud, is the most popular product for both genders. But it is even more popular among men: flower accounts for 4.4% more of their purchases. Women tend to buy more Pre-Roll and Edibles, while men buy more Concentrates. Women also tend to experiment more with non-traditional products (Other) such as Beverages, Tincture & Sublingual and Topicals.
We also explored product preferences by age.
Each segment buys mostly Flower, with those in their 50s buying Flower at the highest rate. Older customers buy less Pre-Rolls than their younger counterparts. Pre-Rolls make up 27% of purchases among customers in their 20s, and this ratio drops down with each age band to only 8% of purchases for those 80 years or older. Conversely, the proportion of both Edibles and Other purchased increase with age—from 6% to 18% and 3% to 12%, respectively.
In contrast to the stereotypical depictions of marijuana users in popular culture and the mainstream media, our customer loyalty data shows that there is a wide range of pot smokers. Each customer segment brings their own habits and product preferences with them into the marijuana store.
As the industry develops, talking generically about “marijuana” and “pot sales” may become like referring to “alcohol sales” rather than talking about beer, wine, and cocktails.