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In Search of the Wealthy Weedsters

by | Jan 23, 2020 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

By Bob Sillick

Bob is a marketing consultant and content researcher, writer, editor and manager.

 

Wealthy individuals and households are consumers like all other citizens with various incomes. The wealthy buy houses, vehicles, groceries, toilet paper – and cannabis. There may be a few items on their shopping lists that don’t appear on ours, but they’re generally similar.

The luxury brands and retailers that sell those items exclusive to the shopping lists of the wealthy need data to understand and engage with their audience just as much as Walmart, McDonald’s and Apple. It’s equally important the cannabis industry understands its upscale consumer audience – and I’ll do my best to guide you to that understanding in this post.

Let’s start with some basic consumer facts. Approximately 70% of the total annual US economic output is generated by millions of American consumers buying groceries, apparel, gasoline, etc. every day. The bulk of those consumer households, however, have annual incomes of $75,000 or less, or 57.1%, according to 2018 US Census Bureau data. US households with annual incomes of $150,000+ are just 15.5% of all households.

Although “wealthy weedsters” may spend more than the rest of us for cannabis products, there simply aren’t enough of them to generate the bulk of the revenues. That distinction still remains with the millions of moderate-income Americans, as it does for all common consumer products and services.

(The source of the following data is The Media Audit and its division, Consumer Research Around Cannabis. Both are international research companies serving 80+ local markets in the US and Canada, and are my clients. I have their permission to share their proprietary content.)

According to The Media Audit’s September 2019 Aggregate Report of 57 US markets, representing more than 143 million adults, 66.4% of those adults who “used or bought cannabis during the past month” were 18–49. The other 33.7% were adults 50+. Keep in mind, some of these purchases may have been “illegal” since the aggregate report includes 57 US markets, some of which are in legal states, and some in illegal states.

A household income comparison of all adults 18+ who used or bought cannabis during the past month clearly reveals its people with moderate incomes who represent the bulk of cannabis revenues.

 

Adults 18+ Who Used or Bought Cannabis During the Past Month, by Household Income, 2019

Range of Household Income Percent Index
$15,000–$24,999 12.5% 128
$25,000–$34,999 12.5% 114
$35,000–$49,999 14.6% 100
$50,000–$74,999 16.6% 88
$75,000–$99,999 12.8% 91
$100,000–$149,999 9.2% 75
$150,000–$199,999 3.9% 79
$200,000–$299,999 2.0% 82
$300,000+ 2.4%

128

Based on The Media Audit’s September 2019 Aggregate Survey

 

You’ll notice the $35,000 to $99,999 range is the peak point in terms of percentage; however, their indices are either average or below average. Interestingly, it’s those adults with the smallest and largest household incomes who have the largest indices, indicating they are 28% more likely to have used or bought cannabis during the past month.

 

As with the US Census Bureau data, those adults with household incomes of $300,000 or more may have the largest index, but only 2.4% actually used or bought cannabis. The retail cannabis industry certainly welcomes their business, but the industry won’t become rich on what the “wealthy weedsters” spend.

 

Without drowning you in data, separating all those adults 18+ into separate age groups essentially repeats the pattern and conclusions. Among adults 18–34 and 35–49, those with the smallest and largest household incomes have the highest indices as cannabis consumers. For adults 50+, however, those in the smallest income bracket also index the highest (129), but the index for those with $300,000+ household income is just 50.

 

Consumer Research Around Cannabis data provides another interesting comparison that also follows the pattern of the data above. “Monthly expenditures on cannabis of $300 or more” is a data point that certainly relates to one’s disposable income, especially among the “wealthy weedsters.”

 

Adults 18+ Who Spent $300+ Monthly for Cannabis, by Household Income, 2019

Range of Household Income Percent Index
$15,000–$24,999 10.6% 118
$25,000–$34,999 11.9% 133
$35,000–$49,999 22.0% 155
$50,000–$74,999 13.1% 66
$75,000–$99,999 9.0% 56
$100,000–$149,999 4.7% 37
$150,000–$199,999 7.8% 110
$200,000–$299,999 * *
$300,000+ 5.9% 264

Based on The Media Audit’s September 2019 Aggregate Survey *insufficient data

 

Somewhat amazingly, it’s still those adults with the smallest incomes who are spending the most monthly, and they have plus indices. Much like the other income comparisons above, the percentage of adults in the wealthiest households was small, but they have a whopper of an index.

 

Another set of data points reveals cannabis users and purchasers are not as financially irresponsible as some trying to stop legalization may like to suggest.

 

Adults 18+ Who Used or Bought Cannabis During the Past Month, by Financial Assets and Activities, 2019

Financial Assets/Activities Percent Index
Have a 401K account 25.7% 95
Have CDs/savings certificates 14.1% 129
Have IRA/Keogh account 16.3% 82
Liquid assets: $100K+ during past year 24.1% 116
Liquid assets: $250K+ during past year 9.1% 89
Traded stocks/bonds/securities during past year 22.9% 149

Based on The Media Audit’s September 2019 Aggregate Survey

 

The same level of financial responsibility and participation is evident when the data is separated into three primary age groups of consumers, keeping in mind younger adults are more likely to be “financially active” than older adults. It’s interesting to note the youngest age group has the largest percentage of the target audience. It is also the only age group with very large indices for all 6 categories of financial assets/activities.

 

Adults 18+ Who Used or Bought Cannabis During the Past Month, by Age Group Financial Assets and Activities, 2019

Financial Assets/Activities Adults 18–34 Adults 35–49 Adults 50+
Target population: 47.4% Target population: 47.8% Target population: 42.3%
Percent Index Percent Index Percent Index
Have a 401K account 22.5% 114 30.7% 88 26.0% 94
Have CDs/savings certificates 16.3% 205 12.3% 138 12.1% 86
Have IRA/Keogh account 13.4% 156 16.8% 96 20.9% 71
Liquid assets: $100K+ during past year 24.2% 177 23.3% 126 24.9% 92
Liquid assets: $250K+ during past year 7.0% 173 8.9% 125 13.0% 79
Traded stocks/bonds/securities during past year 26.4% 187 22.6% 151 16.9% 103

Based on The Media Audit’s September 2019 Aggregate Survey

 

It’s clear “wealthy weedsters” will never be major consumers of cannabis, but manufacturers and retailers shouldn’t overlook them either. From a marketing perspective, manufacturers and retailers benefit from a “two-for-one.” The development of any “luxury” products and upscale marketing campaigns targeting “wealthy weedsters” should also attract cannabis consumers of much smaller household incomes based on the large numbers willing to spend more than $300+ per month.

 

About the Author

Bob Sillick is a marketing/advertising professional with 46 years of experience as an agency partner, copywriter, audio/video producer, publication editor and has been a contract content researcher, writer, editor and manager since 2010. Bob recently moved to Longmont, CO and is adding the cannabis industry to his knowledge base and résumé by becoming a member of the Association and attending and participating in Denver area industry activities.

1 Comment

  1. White Label SEO

    Awesome post! Keep up the great work! 🙂

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