As the legal cannabis industry grows in the United States, so to does interest in how marijuana effects consumer behaviors. Both the recreational and medical use of the substance stimulates purchases of complementary goods, and in an age of data-driven product positioning the smart marketers of compatible goods and services need to know how to best tether their businesses to cannabis spending.
Earlier in April the team at Foursquare, a phone app that delivers localized and personalized consumer recommendations to its users, offered some insights into this fast-developing retail world. How did they do it? By analyzing anonymized profile activity during the internationally celebrated 4/20 “holiday,” Foursquare was able to track some telling spending trends among cannabis users.
Fast-food and pub stops
Some of the consumer marijuana effects could be expected. For instance, on April 20 marijuana dispensaries enjoyed a dramatic uptick in their bottom lines as their average business grew 76 percent on that day alone. And few would be surprised to learn that fast-food chain restaurants in general experienced a 20 percent jump in business, while visits to pizza establishments grew by 11 percent.
Foursquare’s Sarah Spagnolo also noted that attendance at nightlife venues increased by 8 percent, liquor stores were trafficked 36 percent more, and that “pubs were up by a whopping 92 percent compared with the prior week.”
So much for the stereotype of cannabis users being homebody couch potatoes.
Social butterflies and thrill seekers
In a Foursquare blog post, Spagnolo explained that “interestingly enough, nightlife spots in Oregon (which includes every type of bar, lounge, club and brewery) were unaffected” during a two-year study period between 2015 and 2016. "In fact, they experienced a 3% growth in year-over-year foot traffic, right on par with national nightlife industry trends.”
Cannabis users are also, according to the research, a very active group. In the states where Foursquare conducted their study (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington), dispensary goers were more likely to visit ski resorts, climbing facilities, sports stadiums, and bike shops than the average Foursquare subscriber.
Millennials and baby boomers alike
Marketers are always interested in the age of their customer profile. When it comes to dispensary visitors, though, all age brackets are well-represented. What’s more, the two age ranges with the strongest patronage percentages are at almost the complete opposite ends of the spectrum, Millennials and Baby Boomers.
Take a look:
- 20-to-24 years old 14%
- 25-to-34 years old 32%
- 35-to-44 years old 21%
- 45-to-54 years old 10%
- 55 and older 23%
Odd, ends, and takeaways
It’s also worth noting that men and women had almost equal representation at dispensaries. Men made up 52 percent and women 48 percent of the customer base. And as for libation pairings, 4/20 revelers prefer draft beers, pale ales, IPAs, and “fancy cocktails.”
Perhaps the biggest thing marketers and industry watchers must consider is that data collection around the marijuana effects on consumer behaviors is in its earliest stages. That said, Spagnolo urges the alcohol and nightlife industries to watch developing trends closely and be flexible to accommodate the evolving landscape. The same might be applied to restaurants and other industry sectors looking to piggyback on the cannabis boom.