Panelists: Cannabis Industry Needs New Consumers to Scale

As the Canadian cannabis market heats up following legalization, data trends indicate that older demographics will gravitate towards edible items.

During a panel focused on research and projections at the Lift & Co. (TSXV:LIFT) cannabis expo in Vancouver, speakers discussed the role of dried flower in a thriving recreational market, as well as trends heading to the cannabis space.

Dubbed “New Data — The Latest Cannabis Analysis and Research,” the panel included speakers Jennifer Lee, partner and cannabis lead with Deloitte; John Kagia, chief knowledge officer at New Frontier Data; and Lise Dellazizzo, vice president of data and strategy with Lift.

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Edibles offer opportunity for older consumers

Dellazizzo broke down data results from Lift, which has been collecting information on cannabis consumers for four years, saying that the information shows a significant attachment between the edibles market and consumers 65 years old and over.

“There is no other cohort that is demonstrating that much of a change as that age group,” Dellazizzo said.

The data executive with Lift added that companies in the space can’t reach consumers with a one-size-fits-all approach when the data shows consumers attach themselves to various aspects of the market.

One thing that is helping this push to edibles, according to the panel, is the accessibility of consumption and its discretion.

Kagia said he has been surprised by how quickly consumers across all legal markets transition from flower to non-flower products.

However, he clarified that this change hasn’t necessarily decreased demand for dried flower; rather new consumers are gravitating towards novelty cannabis items.

Dellazizzo added that growth in edibles has come in part due to easy access for non-consumers of marijuana. She suggested that companies have to start looking for growth areas in consumers that are not yet interested in cannabis.

“The greatest challenge, I think, for the industry, is how are you going to socialize and make it acceptable for that 80 percent of the population [that doesn’t consume cannabis based on Lift data] to really feel as though consuming cannabis in any type or form is acceptable,” she said.

Lee added that in order to “truly get the scale” needed to succeed in the industry, companies have to get non-cannabis consumers to move into the market.

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Data as an asset and globalization to pave the way in 2019

Lee said she foresees globalization and an increase in value for data within cannabis companies as major trends for 2019.

During the panel, the Deloitte researcher indicated that data will become a massive asset between companies, and will even be capable of providing a competitive edge.

When discussing the retail market, Lee explained consumers will hold the industry to the same standard as established markets. She said tougher standards are on the way for all players in the industry.

Lee is expecting to see brands try to scale on a global level and begin a fight for the attention of consumers on the world stage. She expects mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to continue as the industry requires the ability to scale up.

“Scale is the name of the game, and being small and niche is going to be very hard from a cost perspective,” Lee told the Investing News Network following the panel.

The researcher predicted there won’t be a specific M&A direction in 2019, but rather strategic plays. Besides scaling, she expects US companies to try and find spaces in the Canadian market as well.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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