Legal cannabis, but not infused products, a draw for new consumers, survey finds
New cannabis users account for one-quarter of all legal Canadian consumers, but many appear to be eschewing infused products originally aimed at drawing them into the market, according to a survey released Tuesday.
The survey conducted by Chicago-based Brightfield Group found that "newbies," or those who have only consumed cannabis since the drug was legalized in late 2018, made up 25 per cent of legal pot purchases in the second quarter of the year, a sign that the regulated market is garnering increased consumer interest in Canada.
A significant lure to the legal cannabis market has been the recent advent of cheaper products, better known as the "value" segment, which competes directly with the illicit market on price, according to Bethany Gomez, managing director of the Brightfield Group.
Other factors drawing in new customers include expanding product menus and increased familiarity with legal retailers, the survey found.
"These value products are much more approachable for new consumers," Gomez told BNN Bloomberg in a phone interview. "It's becoming an affordable indulgence for many of them, as opposed to something that may be a good product, but astronomical in price."
Steven Fry, chief executive officer of Sessions Cannabis, a cannabis retailer with seven stores in Ontario, agrees the cheaper offerings are helping drive in new customers to his stores. Roughly 15 of the retailer's 20 top-selling items would qualify as "value" brands, he said.
"We're seeing value brands just dominate the market," Fry told BNN Bloomberg in a phone interview. "From a retail perspective, we don't always love that because it's not a great margin and you're often leaving money at the till."
The Brightfield survey also found that dried flower products were the most popular for new cannabis users, with 43 per cent of "newbies" polled purchasing pot in that fashion, followed by gummies at 37 per cent and chocolate at 27 per cent. Vape devices accounted for just 15 per cent of new cannabis user purchases, the survey found.
But the data also showed that interest in cannabis-infused products like edibles and gummies, aimed at attracting customers deterred from inhaling pot, has stagnated over the first half of the year.
"'Cannabis 2.0' doesn't appear to be drawing in new consumers," Gomez said. "These new consumers are acting in a way that producers weren't first expecting."
Brightfield polled 3,000 Canadian cannabis users in the second quarter as part of an ongoing quarterly series of reports examining the impact legalization has had on the market.