In the early days of the industry, budtenders were overwhelmingly female to appeal to a mostly male clientele. Even the traditional images of the stereotypical stoner depict lazy, unkempt, apathetic males. For many years, the legal status and stigmas of cannabis consumption deterred many women from experimenting with the herb. However, as the cannabis industry has grown and matured, so has the diversity of the clientele within it. Today, women make up a third of the legal marijuana market.
In fact, one report from Rabobank in Europe believes the wine industry could even be in trouble as women, wealthier people, and the health-conscious consumers all opt for cannabis over merlot. When you factor in the statistic that women typically control 70 to 80 percent of all consumer purchase decisions, it's easy to understand why cannabis products are evolving and focusing on a more feminine approach.
As marketers continue to scramble to form strong consumer profiles, Headset is compiling the data.
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Women, Weed, and Wellness
Recently named one of Seattle's top 50 startups, Headset Inc., is a business intelligence software platform which uses point-of-sale data from the dispensaries to track what products are selling, regardless of their state. Recognizing International Women's Day earlier this month, Headset released new consumer data examining the differences between men and women at the point of sale.
We spoke to the folks at Headset for their interpretation of the data. In an interview with Leafbuyer, Manny Perez, VP of Marketing at Headset stated, "Women are the catalyst," which contribute to an increasingly sophisticated market and new cannabis product lines. As the market gains legitimacy and women continue to flock to cannabis; the products are starting to shift to meet the demands of the demographic. "Women with a stronger voice are coming to the industry, and as customers in the recreational market, it will be interesting to watch the evolution in the coming years," Perez continued.
Maybe as more of a validation, the data shows that women tend to gravitate towards the health and wellness aspects of the business, as well as, the products. As such, consumers are starting to see a wide variety of appealing, high-end products which have less to do with getting high and more to do with enjoying life and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What the Data Shows
Although women typically don't consume as much cannabis as men, they currently hold one-third of the market. Liz Connors, Director of Analytics at Headset added, "Women have similar average basket sizes, but shop less frequently," than their male counterparts. She also reminded that the person making the purchase decision at the point of sale, may not be the end consumer.
"Women make 90 percent of tampon purchases, the other 10 percent are men purchasing for someone else," Liz stated anecdotally, insinuating that some women may be purchasing cannabis for a spouse or partner with no intent on consuming the product themselves. Yet, they get ultimate control over which products are purchased.
Statistically, flower and vape pens still hold the top slots for most common products purchased by both men and women, although men make the majority of those purchases, along with concentrates. However, women buy from all other cannabis product categories more than men, including:
- Tinctures & Sublinguals
Additionally, Headset compared women's purchases from 2017 to 2018.
- Concentrates and pre-rolls saw a 15 and 18 percent decline in female sales respectively.
- Vape pens saw a 19 percent increase in female sales this year.
- Tinctures and topicals take the trophy with a 42 and 47 percent increase in sales.
What Women Really Want
While marketing departments are focusing on pretty packaging and softer color schemes, Headset's data demonstrates a new product formulation may be the ticket to winning women over. Lower dose products such as 3-5mg edibles and beverages appeal more to female clientele.
Brian Wansolich, Cofounder and CDO, at Headset commented that the data validated his hunch about micro-dosing, stating, "Lower doses seem to appeal more to women." Continuing, he suggested that women likely proceed cautiously with a more level-headed approach than many males. "Males tend to be more headstrong and dive into dosing," he said.
A recent article in Forbes supports this data, showing the majority of men consume cannabis for entertainment or recreational purposes, while women prefer marijuana for health and personal care. These trends lead women to a number of products for relaxation, calming, and wellness. According to Headset, the three most common products purchased by women in 2018 included:
- Humboldt Apothecary 3:1 Calm CBD Tincture
- Papa & Barkley's Releaf Balm
- Kiva ? Milk Chocolate Blueberry Terra Bites (5mg)
The cannabis industry is only going to continue to expand, as will the cannabis consumer. Asking Connors her opinion on how the industry will respond to the increased female influence, she suggested cannabis beverages could be the wave of the future for women. "Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, while cannabis is zero calories and zero carbs naturally," she stated, suggesting cannabis beverages as a more appealing social beverage for the calorie-conscious.
With so much political turmoil and ambiguity, only time will tell what the future holds for cannabis companies, but data trends suggest their future is certainly female.