With 4/20 Approaching, Marketers and Consumers Excitedly Explore the Budding Marijuana Industry

Dismantling the taboo

A new report from Eaze shows consumers are opening up their cannabis usage. Getty Images
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Four months into the legalization of cannabis in California and consumer sentiment is positively high.

A new report from Eaze, a cannabis ecommerce platform, details findings from about 5,000 Eaze customers about their thoughts on marijuana post-legalization. More than half (52 percent) said that legalization has made it easier to talk about using cannabis; 65 percent reported that they tell their colleagues; 42 percent of millennials and 52 percent of Generation Z said they’d share something on social media about 4/20. A big takeaway throughout the report reveals that women are more willing to talk about cannabis than men, including 61 percent of mothers versus 37 percent of fathers.

John Downs, director of business development at The Arcview Group, an investment firm in the cannabis space, thinks the survey shows that cannabis usage is becoming normalized.

With legalization alive, people are more comfortable speaking about their own usage and advising their friends who are canna-curious,” Downs said. “It’s not so much of the formation of a new market [but a] transition from this illicit quasi-illegal market to a legal market.”

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, understanding how consumers, businesses and even regulators think and talk about weed is important.

I think this is an unmet consumer need nationwide,” said Rosa Ziebell, svp of marketing at Eaze. “We’re de-stigmatizing and mainstreaming this industry and making it OK to bring out to the open.”

With 4/20 coming up, the report also found that 73 percent of California consumers are celebrating for the first time, with about one in four baby boomers consuming cannabis in some form for the first time on the holiday. 

This is the first 4/20 with the end of the prohibition,” Ziebell said. “It’s this huge opportunity to celebrate the new state of affairs. I think it’s going to be a mainstream holiday.”

While we are a long ways off before having 4/20 as a nationally-sanctioned holiday, the cannabis industry, Downs believes, sees the week leading up to the date as a time for people to join in on the conversation around cannabis and educate themselves. However, he noted that education isn’t just about the cannabis product itself, but also the social issues around it.

For example, according to a 2013 ACLU report, “Marijuana use is roughly equal among blacks and whites, yet blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.”

The tide around cannabis is further turning, with President Trump reportedly telling Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado that he will support states rights who’ve legalized cannabis, according to The Washington Post. The April 13 news comes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a memo in January that let the federal government not intervene in states that have legalized cannabis.

Ziebell thinks this is a time marketers can join and make a big impact in the cannabis industry, as opposed to leaving a mark at a company.

“We’re CPG products now,” Ziebell said. “The industry is growing up and is operating more professionally, and that contributes to over-cutting the fear that consumers had in the past.”

Downs suggests marketers come up with the right message that honors the craft behind making cannabis and that it can be seen as a wellness product.

It’s more Whole Foods and CVS than 7-Eleven,” Downs said. “This new consumer didn’t want to consume a product with pot leaves all over it and half naked chicks.”

@itstheannmarie annmarie.alcantara@adweek.com Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.