Home Wine Business Editorial A Detailed Look at the Cannabis Consumer

A Detailed Look at the Cannabis Consumer


The curious, the fearful, and the opportunists will all have an occasion to get a glimpse of who the cannabis consumer is and what concerns or opportunities there may be to glean from the wine industry. At Wine Industry Network’s upcoming Wine & Weed Symposium, Jessica Lukas, Vice President of Consumer Insights for BDS Analytics in Boulder, Colorado, will be the key presenter for the session titled, “Who is the Cannabis Consumer?”.

“We retain sales tracking and do data analysis specifically for the cannabis industry,” says Lukas. “One of the primary things we provide to our clients is the data on what is selling where, when, and at what price point. Clients can log in and drill down to very detailed information.” Lukas describes it as dynamic data, where clients can see their own data and competitors’ sales in real time. “You can see what consumers are actually buying and at what price. This data is useful for business planning and strategy, pricing, retail assortment, and for an assessment of whether or not to enter another space in the market.” Lukas notes, “Alcohol manufacturers are used to this type of information; retail sales tracking data, also referred to as ‘scan data’.”

Jessica Lukas
Jessica Lukas

Of interest, is the fact that thus far the ‘why’ of the purchase has not been deciphered. Lukas shares that BDS Analytics has been addressing this, “We conduct ongoing, trending consumer research to identify who is consuming and not consuming, what they are consuming, and why.”

Gathering in-depth data every six months in the US and Canada, BDS Analytics is looking beyond demographics at the who, what, when, where, why, and how consumers choose, consume, and purchase cannabis products. What are they learning from all this data? Lukas says that in states where cannabis is still illicit, consumption is still driven by inhalable products. But in the states where cannabis is fully legalized for medicinal and recreational use, the data shows something quite different. “We are seeing a lot of purposeful consumption, some recreational, but a lot of multi-purpose use across demographics and need states,” Lukas explains. “In legal states, the stigmas are breaking down, education is increasing, and there are a wide assortment of products available. We are seeing an average consumer age of 40 years old.”

How could this usage impact the wine industry? Lukas sees that the alcohol industry thinks it’s a one for one loss, meaning that for each cannabis product consumed, there is one glass of wine not being consumed. It is not this simple. “There are a substantial number of cannabis occasions that are not appropriate for alcohol and alcohol occasions that are not appropriate for cannabis.” An example may be a wedding celebration, where wine is normalized but the use of cannabis may not be. Cannabis could be a fourth addition to the beer-wine-spirits trio, but they may not all work for every occasion.

So, what should the wine industry worry about? Lukas says that their findings show that 72% of cannabis consumers over 21, in legal states, also drink alcohol. “These are your consumers, but the interaction between cannabis and alcohol is complicated,” states Lukas. There are substitution opportunities, where people use a cannabis product instead of reaching for a glass of wine. There are also complementary events where a consumer may use both but drink less alcohol when pairing with cannabis. A third risk is decreased alcohol consumption among specific sub-segments of the consumer population—medically motivated, holistic health focused, young adults with limited income, etc.

What long-term impact these factors have on the wine industry is still a gray area, but at these early stages, the data coming out is something to watch. Lukas will present on the market, product, and consumer trends in the industry, highlighting both the opportunities and threats for Beverage Alcohol. Catch her session on August 2nd in Santa Rosa, CA at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country, Santa Rosa, CA.

For more information about Jessica’s session and other topics of discussion at the Wine & Weed Symposium, please visit www.wine-weed.com