A recent review of 35 cannabis consumer studies identified age, gender, and cannabis experiences as the main factors influencing purchase habits. The goal of this systematic review, published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, was to understand why consumers might still purchase illicit cannabis in a state with legal cannabis. However, it revealed consumer behavior is more nuanced than previous studies have reflected in terms of consumer responses to price, product quality expectations, and preferred mode of consumption (smoking flower, vaping, tinctures, etc.).
A significant number of studies (27) focused on price. Most of which indicated that demand was “price inelastic” or not affected by price fluctuations. Studies also explored how consumer-perceived “quality” played an important role in consumer choice. The review suggested that the lowest cost and least regulated cannabis influenced consumer choice across age and gender.
Eleven studies addressed aspects of product quality, potency, and aroma. Consumers often identify potency as a key priority. The review found a significant preference for higher THC and CBD potency products. Differences in reasons for use and preferred modes of consumption exist among the various age and gender groups. Although certain products like flower have universal appeal, the review suggested that age, gender and experience strongly shaped preferences for edibles, ground flower or vaping. An analysis of cannabis consumer trends and demographics offers some examples of age-related consumer behavior such as older consumers tend to have larger average retail transaction amounts. Generation X consumers tend to buy more expensive products like edibles and topical creams than Millennials. However, pre-rolls seem to appeal to all generations for their convenience and familiarity.
The review is valuable for identifying future research topics such as preferred route(s) of administration. This topic was only examined in three studies, but they indicated smoking cannabis is the most common route of administration. Future research will investigate the relationship between a consumer’s preferred mode of consumption influences their purchasing habits. Cannabis product consumer research is essential to promoting consumer health and safety as more global markets prepare for cannabis legalization.