As the legalization and use of cannabis continues to expand in the U.S., researchers at TrendSource released its first report on the market, which explores consumer experiences, perceptions and attitudes about the “nascent legal cannabis industry.”
Moreover, authors of the 35-page report outlined “cannabis” emerging intersections with retail and manufacturing, offering insight into what kinds of products consumers want to see.” TrendSource sees the industry expanding beyond the current distribution model.
“People are thinking short-term, looking at the rise of dispensaries and other cannabis-specific businesses, but we will soon see cannabis intersect with established retail, manufacturing, and food service businesses,” said Sarah Rowlett, director of client services at TrendSource. “That’s the future we need to prepare for.”
According to survey results, more than 60 percent of consumers see legalization as a “non-issue” while 90 percent are supportive of medical marijuana. “Even 90 percent of non-cannabis users favor its legality, as does the vast majority of the Silent Generation,” the company said in a statement. “Yet while medical, and in some segmentations recreational, cannabis enjoys increased support, consumers want to keep the advances incremental.”
But, based on the current consumer sentiment, it may be some time before retailers, such as Target Corp. or Walgreens, consider selling cannabis. TrendSource found that survey responses diverged among generational lines. Millennials, for example, were much more supportive of the idea of existing retail channels selling cannabis products versus Baby Boomers and the older Silent Generation.
“Based on current attitudes, retailers stand to take a hit among our overall respondent base by selling cannabis products, but not a devastating one,” authors of the report said. “Respondents are most comfortable with liquor stores, already firmly in the vice industry, selling such products. Yet adding generational segmentations complicates these numbers somewhat.”
TrendSource suggested that long term, these attitudes will change. “As long as they are willing to be a bit patient, the news is good for cannabis retailers and manufacturers (and retailers and manufacturers considering entering the market) across the board,” researchers said. “According to the study, the top-two reasons current non-users abstain from cannabis are its legal situation and concerns about product purity, both of which far outweighed concerns about negative social perceptions, drug-testing, and even cost.”
TrendSource said many of these “pain points” will dissipate over time as marijuana “gains increased legal sanction and the attendant regulation that accompanies legalized vice products.”
“This means that, soon, consumers will be able to both understand and trust a product’s concentration and purity much in the same way that alcohol became pure and reliably dosed under post-Prohibition federal regulation,” the researchers said. “This means that, without doing too much legwork, retailers and manufacturers will find an expanded user base whose main concerns are stripped away by the product’s changing legal status over time.”