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Trend report lowdown: Commercialising Cannabis

The legal cannabis era is here. Our new Spotlight Trend reveals how it will mature into a multi-billion-dollar opportunity that will disrupt industries as varied as hospitality, beauty and pets.

So, cannabis is being commercialised? Sounds like there’s a budding opportunity…

Nice (so nice, in fact, that it’s the name of one of our three Commercialising Cannabis reports). But you’re right, there is. Investment banking firm AGC Partners believes cannabis will become “the largest and fastest-growing consumer market to come along since commercialisation of the internet”.

That’s a bold claim. What’s behind it?

Legalisation, for starters. In the US, nine states (plus Washington, DC) have legalised cannabis for recreational use. Canada is set to follow suit in summer 2018, while Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Poland and Greece are all on the way to legalising marijuana in various forms.

Legalisation is one thing; demand is another…

Well – surprise, surprise – there’s lots of it. In the eyes of American consumers, who’ve become increasingly wary of tobacco and opioids, cannabis is now ‘clean’. And among US college students, it’s gradually replacing alcohol as their legal drug of choice. 

The impact of this ever-increasing demand? By 2027, global spending on legal cannabis is expected to reach $57bn. By the end of 2018 in the US alone, sales are predicted to hit $10.8bn – a 65% increase from 2016.

It sounds like perceptions of cannabis are shifting?

Once it was demonised; now it’s becoming normalised. And the reason is simple: this powerful plant delivers a spectrum of effects – everything from pain relief to being an aphrodisiac – while appealing to an equally varied number of consumer demographics.

In A Budding Opportunity, our Consumer Lifestyle report, we explore how cannabis has shifted from counterculture to being socially acceptable, reveal how to nurture a new wave of cannabis newbies, and dive into cannabis’s complex legacy (which will help interested brands avoid coming across as lacking affinity for the plant and its patrons).

What do its patrons look like?

They’re a mix between recreational users and health-seekers. Stoner culture is still a thing, but it represents a very small percentage of cannabis culture overall. Today’s consumers are mums, dads and middle-aged working people – and they all consume cannabis how they wish (and for different reasons – whether to take the edge off a hectic day, or even to enhance time spent with the kids).

Are brands helping them to do this?

They are, by producing easy-to-use, safety-conscious and sophisticated products that appeal to first-timers, engaged enthusiasts or medical patients. Designing the Green Rush, our Product Design report, explores these in more detail (but only our favourites – since 2015, 65,000 cannabis products have launched in the US).

As Derek Riedle, the founder of digital media and lifestyle brand Civilized, told us: “Joints will never go away, but... delivery methods where people can enjoy cannabis rapidly, conveniently and without smoke will flourish.”

Where are consumers buying these products?

Everywhere from discovery-focused e-ventures and accessible drive-throughs to subscription boxes and contemporary dispensaries. Retail’s New High, our Retail report, uncovers how brands are making purchasing cannabis easier for the plant’s new, diverse users – despite bureaucratic and operational challenges.

What else will Commercialising Cannabis teach me?

How cannabis will disrupt industries as varied as hospitality, beauty and pets, why the cannabis gift market could be huge, and how to ride the CBD wave (the compound that doesn’t get you high, but may have myriad health benefits).

If you’re a Stylus member, you can read Commercialising Cannabis now. If you’re not, and you’d like to discover the benefits of joining, get in touch.