Canada’s National Cannabis Survey – a marketing tool

The National Cannabis Survey (NCS), which was designed to monitor cannabis consumption and related behaviors before and after legalization, has collected data every quarter since February 2018.

On May 2, 2019, it released its first Canada-wide survey results that were entirely collected in the new post-legalization period.  Most recently, it released its latest results in August 2019. For example, this new data continues to show that males and females differ in how they obtain and consume cannabis products post legalization.

Results from these surveys from the first half of 2019 offered updates and insight into changes in consumption and sources of cannabis. These insights may be applicable to markets outside of Canada.

Clearly the ongoing surveys will better reflect the long-term impact of legalization, but here are a few highlights from these early results:

  • 77% of Canadians who reported using cannabis during the first half of 2019 consumed dried cannabis (flower/leaf), while 26% consumed edibles
  • Not surprisingly, and despite the well documented supply issues, there was an increase in the number of new cannabis users with 646,000 Canadians trying cannabis for the first time. This total compared to 327,000 people in the same period a year ago.
  • Half of these new users were aged 45 or older, and some were cannabis users who were trying it again now that recreational product is legal. While the same survey shows that overall use by age remained largely unchanged this quarter, it will be interesting to see if it continues to track this way.
  • Nearly half of all cannabis consumers (48%) reported purchasing at least some of their cannabis from a legal source
  • The frequency of daily or almost daily use remained unchanged. Weekly and occasional use saw a 2% increase compared to the first quarter of 2018. It also appears that consumption patterns remain somewhat consistent.
  • Cannabis use continued to be higher among males (22%) than females (13%) with 25% of males saying they will use cannabis in the next three months
  • The most common age group to use were 15-24 years old (30%)

While only a top line survey, these specific results are offered up as an early look at cannabis in our new regulatory environment. Canadians are taking advantage of their legal ability to smoke, and naturally, obtaining product more and more from legal sources. However, there is still a high percentage of people who will buy on the streets. It comes down to dollars and cents, and people seem to buy where there is a better deal aka through the local “dealer.” I welcome the idea of an ongoing quarterly survey to see how these numbers will change in the future.

These surveys provide a gateway into knowledge about an emerging and untapped industry. There are many potential learnings to gain for cannabis marketers globally, while also using them as a means to track pain points and forecast future trends.

Canada’s National Cannabis Survey – A tool for Cannabis Marketers
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Canada’s National Cannabis Survey – A tool for Cannabis Marketers
These surveys provide a gateway into knowledge about an emerging and untapped industry.

Opportunities & Challenges for Marketers in the Commerce of Cannabis


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