It has been more than a year since cannabis was legalized in Canada and while 2019 sales fell short of most expectations*, 2020 is in a much better position to succeed. New research out today from Mintel, the experts in what consumers want and why, shows that the Canadian cannabis market not only has a significant number of users but potential users as well: an impressive six in 10 (59%) Canadians are currently using and/or interested in using cannabis. What’s more, a quarter (27%) of all consumers say they used cannabis in the first six months of legalization (October 2018 – March 2019), and a third (32%) of non-cannabis users say they are ‘open to trying it’.
Among these potential cannabis users (current non-users who are ‘open to it’), edibles are the most intriguing format (48%), including 47% of 20-34-year-olds, 49% of 35-50-year-olds, and 48% of those aged 55+. Overall, two-thirds (66%) of open non-users are interested in ingestible (edible and drinkable) cannabis.
Scott Stewart, Senior Research Analyst, Mintel, said:”The key to future growth for many consumer industries will be to convert more of the consumers who are open to but not current users of cannabis; their hesitance to try cannabis was a contributor to the relatively low sales in 2019, but the legalization of edibles and drinkables in October 2019 will play a major role in 2020’s success. Edibles and drinkables can be a great introductory way for new users to familiarize themselves with cannabis and better understand the cannabis experience, potentially leading to using other forms of the product.”
While nearly half (46%) of cannabis consumers use it to have fun, and even greater percentage use cannabis as a wellness product. More than half of cannabis consumers use it to relax (62%) and relieve stress/anxiety (54%); meanwhile, two in five use it to improve sleep (42%) and their mood (39%).
Many of the barriers to cannabis use that consumers have can be overcome with time, education, and support of brands. For instance, three of the top four barriers to usage for cannabis non-users are the smell (37%), smoke (36%), and health concerns (28%). When it comes to knowledge about cannabis, open non-users are lacking: only 41% of open non-users feel that they are knowledgeable on how to consume cannabis.
“New product innovation in the cannabis market has already begun to tear down some of the barriers related to wider cannabis consumption. In addition to edibles and drinkables that do not involve smell or smoke – two of the main complaints cannabis non-users have about the product – devices like vaporizers or vape pens which create a vapour instead of smoke serve to minimize these unwanted byproducts. Our research shows that many Canadians view cannabis as a very complex and intimidating product and the lack of understanding leads many to avoid it entirely. Brands can navigate this by using online platforms and in-store employees to help educate consumers about cannabis. Strict laws around marketing cannabis mean that brands have to be very careful about their approach, but using factual statements to help educate and familiarize potential consumers with cannabis is a good way of establishing a trusted position in the market,” said Stewart.
*”Pot Sales in Canada Fall Short Of Forecasts in First Year Of Legalization” (BNN Bloomberg, December 2019)