An estimated 13 percent of California's 40 million residents -- that's 5.2 million people -- are cannabis users, an immense market that has long positioned the state at the epicenter of modern cannabis culture. The legal cannabis market there is expected to be valued at $3.7 billion by the end of the current year.
The state’s historic legalization bill has been in effect for less than a year ago. To find out, what moves the Golden State’s millions of cannabis lovers we aggregated and anonymized profile information from 1,000 California users, breaking down the data by age, gender and region. Their interests are indicative of some growing trends in the world’s largest legal marketplace for cannabis products.
Because our business is bringing people who love cannabis together, it’s important for us to get to know our user base. When people sign up for our app, they share their activity preferences, social goals and favorite ways to consume cannabis, so that our algorithm can match them with other users who share some of those interests.
The demographics of California cannabis users are not what many would expect. The majority of these consumers are millennial-aged (21 to 36), but a large swath is made up of older adults. Now, for the first time, we have a general idea of what they are looking for out of their cannabis experience.
Their consumption style
Cannabis products have moved far beyond buds and brownies. Vaporizer cartridges pre-filled with concentrate have become a preferred and highly discreet alternative to pipes and joints. However, Californians also like the browse from a vast menu of pre-rolls, ranging from medium and mellow, to high-dose giants.
New product types are increasingly accessible and driving trends in consumer behavior, but clear demographic preferences for ingestion methods haven’t truly emerged yet in California. We found that while smoking still ranks highest among our California users who did express a specific preference, the overwhelming majority of them said they were up for everything. So, we can at least say that there is still room for new product types to be discovered in this market.
Vaporization of concentrated cannabis dabs was the top choice in the Los Angeles County area, while smoking was the most popular among respondents in the Sacramento area. A particular penchant for cannabis-infused edibles was also highest around Sacramento.
We also noted that vaping is the most popular method among both men and women over 44, which makes sense given its reputation as a healthier choice. Though cannabis products tend to come with a major learning curve, it seems Californians are catching on quickly.
Tapping into other interests.
Because so much of cannabis culture is about sharing and socializing, we were especially interested to see what kind of interactions our users were seeking on our platform.
In terms of goals for interactions on the app, “Chat” was the most commonly selected category, with “Stay In” about 10 points behind. Interestingly enough, ‘“Stay In” (22.2 percent overall) was more popular than “Go Out” (16.5 percent), suggesting that a large portion of cannabis users are still more comfortable consuming out of public view.
Unsurprisingly, “Food” and “Music” were the top two most popular interests overall. After those two, a large percentage of Californians like to get out and enjoy their state’s exceptional variety of outdoor opportunities. If they’re not having a bonfire on the beach, they’re catching a movie -- after all, Los Angeles, where most of our respondents live, is the cinema capital of the world.
Like many other industries, California consumers are pushing the trends and narratives of their rich cannabis culture to the rest of the world. These and future insights about the state of the market will enable companies to capitalize on this culture like never before.