Updated: Jul 10
On June 16, 2020, Oasis Intelligence, a market research and analysis company based in Los Angeles, released what the organization dubbed "the most comprehensive profile of the modern hemp consumer to date."
The survey involved a relatively large number of "current and prospective" consumers: 20,000. They hailed from every U.S. state, including D.C. This market and consumer preference survey was conducted from September through December 2019.
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Below is a summary and analysis of the results of this cannabis consumer survey from Oasis Intelligence. Disclaimer: Higher Learning LV maintains no connection to Oasis Intelligence other than the development of this article. The organization has not paid Higher Learning LV a fee to promote or otherwise amplify its marketplace data.
The Big Rocks
Much to the chagrin of budtenders and dispensary managers throughout North America—especially those who have received specialized training—the "number one source of product recommendations for cannabis consumers" remains friends and family. Budtender influence, it would seem, has not gained a great deal of traction.
Anecdotal evidence supports this dynamic. From a personal perspective, the number one complaint I have heard from colleagues and dispensary customers/patients in California, Oregon, Ohio, Maryland, Washington, and Nevada is that of a lack of knowledge and professionalism on the part of budtenders.
The Oasis Intelligence report found—no doubt again resulting in a frown on the face of thousands of dispensary owners and their in-house or contracted marketing resources—that a full 75 percent of those surveyed are unfamiliar with the terms "terpenes," "endocannabinoid system," and "entourage effect."
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This doesn't bode well for companies touting the superiority of formulation elements such as terpenes or how a full-spectrum hemp product contributes to health and wellness (better than an isolate in some scenarios). If a consumer doesn’t understand the entourage effect and how these delicate molecules commingle in the human endocannabinoid system to result in positive efficacy, they obviously won't perceive value in products and services claiming to deliver benefits from such formulations.
Despite the eclipse of many state-level medical cannabis programs in the U.S. by adult use programs (and regulatory oversight), roughly half of those surveyed by Oasis Intelligence reported their interest in cannabis to be medicinal.
Of those who stated that they are seeking medical relief, 51 percent reported wanting relief from anxiety, while 44 percent were seeking help with depression. Just shy of one-third of respondents (31 percent) said they seek relief from insomnia by using cannabis and cannabis products.
Consumer Education Needed
“While companies are seemingly in a race to introduce new terms, most people still don’t know some of the basics and are looking for information from familiar sources,” reported the survey.
Oasis Intelligence reported that the number one source of cannabis information for consumers is friends (43 percent). The survey also found that, within a family, mothers were the most likely to be the source of cannabis education.
From a preference perspective, consumers reported that they most desire to learn about cannabis and cannabis products from their local dispensary and the video network YouTube.
The topics about which they desire to learn more? Available cannabis products and CBD:THC ratios (yep).
The hemp and cannabis industries continue to grow, with additional jurisdictions adopting legal medical and adult use laws nearly every year since 2012 (when Washington and Colorado enacted adult use laws). Today, a total of 19 U.S. states have adopted legal and regulated adult-use cannabis laws, in addition to more than 35 states with some form of medical cannabis program.