Are You A Silver Dabbler Or Medical Purist?

Matt Weeks May 3, 2019 0 comments

The market is slotting clientele into very specific and ever more numerous categories of ‘stoners’. Which market share are you?

Leave it to cannabis users to defy stereotypes. As the industry matures, it’s naturally taking on the hallmarks of Fortune 500 companies, including breaking down its consumer base into demographic types of stoners.

In other words, pot businesses have finally gotten around to doing their own version of the infamous “types of smokers” scene from “Half-Baked.” Only this time it’s not for comic effect. It’s to better understand and serve clientele. These types of categories allow for targeted marketing, but also to create products that better serve consumers.

And it might reveal just how far society has come from the lazy pothead stereotype.

Types of Cannabis Consumers & ‘Stoners’

A recent report originally created by New Frontier Data and MJ Freeway, took a closer look at the people who are spending their hard-earned money on cannabis. Their findings are meant to dispel myths about who actually uses cannabis, and help steer fledgling dispensaries and canna-shops toward a sustainable, profitable customer base.

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The future of cannabis, as envisioned by this new business research, is diverse. It ranges from desperate, near-broke users to well-moneyed occasional smokers, and everyone in between. And, like it or not, it’s important to keep market segmentation in mind as the industry is expected to grow to $80 billion by 2030.

A one-size-fits-all approach can’t accommodate a market of that size. So it’s important that serious players carve out their niche now, before consumer preferences harden into brand loyalty.

So without further ado, here are the nine kinds of stoners in the United States.

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The Social Opportunist

Accounting for 17 percent of all cannabis consumers in the U.S., Social Opportunist stoners are the scavengers of the weed world. This group is the least likely to actually buy any pot, but willingly indulges in smoke sessions a few times per year. When it’s offered, that is.

Silver Dabblers

This demographic is primarily made of middle-aged men, typically divorced or confirmed bachelors, who partake in pot a few times a month. These are mostly recreational stoners who enjoy the relaxing benefits of cannabis. They’re also the poorest of all archetypes.

Traditional Lifestylers

This is a fancy way of saying pothead. The group, 14 percent of all users, are what the media envision when the phrase “cannabis user” is uttered. They’re young, fun, ethnically diverse, and willing to drop serious coin on cannabis and cannabis accessories.

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Most of these consumers take cannabis daily or near-daily, and are more likely to buy illegally than at a dispensary because of customer loyalty. If you’re under 25 and have a poster of Bob Marley on the wall, chances are you fit into this slot.

Medical Purists

This is a fast-growing group of consumers who seek out cannabis strictly for its therapeutic uses. Accounting for 12 percent of stoners, the Medical Purist group takes weed to treat a variety of ailments and illnesses. Their consumption changes with their illness (a bad day means more cannabis) and they’re especially interested in the quality and strain of their medicine.

Weekend Enthusiasts

As the name implies, this group tends to cut loose in a controlled fashion. They’re typically parents in their 40s who want to indulge their pot tendencies with the best kinds of bud — but only sometimes.

This group makes up 12 percent of users, and they treat weed like wine. They like the good stuff, but enjoy splurging on new strains.

Discreet Unwinders

The young suburban mother who smokes cannabis while she cleans fits perfectly into this category. Making up 8 percent of users, Discreet Unwinders typically hit a joint watching TV, doing household chores, or on the weekends. They typically smoke alone or with a partner instead of socially, and take cannabis to de-stress, relax, and escape.

Often, they’ve been consuming cannabis for years but always on the down low.

Modern Lifestylers

Modern Lifestylers are redefining the concept of potheads. They’re heavy users, and they’re into everything. They believe that cannabis is good for everything from entertainment to relaxation, and have the most diverse buying habits of all stoners.

Although they make up just 10 percent of the user base, their rapid growth makes them an important demographic. Modern Lifestylers typically live in legal areas, frequent their local dispensaries, and are staples in pot culture. They tend to be young and healthy with high incomes.

Infrequent Conservatives

The Silverbacks of stoners, this is a group of retired, politically right-leaning stoners. They comprise a healthy 9 percent of the pot population. They’re typically retired and take cannabis just a few times a year with friends.

Functional Dependents

The smallest faction of cannabis consumers (just 5 percent) is this group. They’re relentless partiers, who not only consume cannabis but also alcohol in large quantities. They’re typically young, and spend more than $100 a month on weed.

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A Growing Concern

The segmentation of the cannabis market is both freeing and scary. Investing too much into any one demographic may be a bad idea. But, the continually growing industry can better serve its clients by making some smart targeting moves.

Others worry that cannabis has become elitist — or might be soon, thanks to a growing focus on high-dollar consumers. But while many cannabis companies may be trying to change the image of what a pothead is, this data shows that there’s no need for a complete image overhaul. America’s best known cannabis company, MedMen, looked like it was in financial trouble earlier this year, only to announce a $250 million investment less than a month later.

The breakdown of stoners into demographic types may seem like a nudge away from the roots of traditional cannabis consumers, but it’s actually an illuminating look at the kind of people who were always there. They were just pushed to the side to make room for the stigma.

Author avatar

Matt Weeks

A writer living and working in Athens, GA, Matt's work has appeared in various newspapers, books, magazines and online publications over the last 15 years. When he's not writing, he hosts bar trivia, plays in local bands, and makes a mean guacamole. He holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master's degree in organizational theory. His favorite movie is "Fletch."

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