Perceived health benefits still drive cannabis use

A survey also shows some resistance to traditional food and beverage companies making cannabis-infused products.

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Most of the people who want to try cannabis to get high have likely already done so, but the perceived health benefits continue to drive current and future consumption, according to a new report from Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

The survey asked 1,000 Canadians about behaviours and attitudes related to cannabis, including both consumers and non-consumers, to see how consumer sentiment has changed in the wake of legalization.

According to the study, nine in 10 respondents cite health and wellness reasons as the primary motivator for their consumption. And this is informing how brands can attract consumers. According to the study, the greatest opportunity to tap into the non-smoker market is with non-intoxicating products, as 41% of of who those who rarely consume cannabis indicate they’re either “very” or “somewhat likely” to try CBD products in the next year.

“Consumers who haven’t already tried intoxicating products are unlikely to do so at this point,” says Elliott Gauthier, Hill+Knolwton’s SVP of data analytics, despite the retail launch of new product formats like edibles and beverages this week.

The results also show, however, that there is consumer aversion to consumer packaged goods and cannabis infused products, with nearly four in ten respondents who are non-users reporting that they’d walk away from a favorite food and beverage brand if that brand also started producing cannabis infused products.

Finally, the report finds that the illicit market is still robust, with over one third (34%) of consumers still using illegal channels to buy the product – a number that remains unchanged since May 2019. According to Omar Khan, who was named national cannabis sector lead at Hill+Knowlton in October, in order to survive and thrive, licensed brands will need to convince this illegal buyer cohort to migrate to the legal market.