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Study finds consumers would try cannabis products

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CHICAGO — More than three-quarters (76%) of U.S. and Canadian consumers would try medicinal cannabis products, and about half would try cannabis-enhanced consumer products such as snack food (55%), nutritional supplements (50%) and cosmetics (43%), according to recent research by A.T. Kearney into attitudes toward legalized cannabis.

While North American attitudes toward marijuana are relaxing almost as quickly as the laws that regulate it, what may be unexpected is how many consumers indicate their readiness to test legal cannabis products and their positive attitude toward brands that would bring them to market.

Randy Burt, a partner in A.T. Kearney’s consumer and retail practice, notes: “The survey clearly demonstrates the viability of the market for cannabis across multiple consumer segments — CPGs and retailers focused on health and wellness, snacking, functional food and beverage, and beverage alcohol need to have a perspective on how they will approach the cannabis opportunity.”

The study of 2,000 American and Canadian consumers’ attitudes toward marijuana and cannabis-based or -infused products found over half of respondents willing to try recreational cannabis when, or if, it becomes legal. The survey indicates that health and wellness, beauty and personal care companies introducing products with cannabis ingredients would see an improvement in public perception — overall, over 85% of respondents said they would have an improved or neutral perception of their favorite brand if it were to launch a product containing cannabis.

Among the study’s key findings:

  • Overall, 76% of respondents said they would be likely to try a legal therapeutic product infused with cannabis.
  • Consumers are most likely to try cannabis in food, supplements, and cosmetics or skin care products.
  • Of those individuals who said they would try recreational cannabis, most would consume it in place of beer.
  • Reasons given by respondents for not trying cannabis are diverse and very personal.
  • For companies, releasing a cannabis product does not diminish consumer perception.

The plant’s properties as an intoxicant are well known, but the market for cannabis products that don’t produce a sense of euphoria (or “high”) may be even larger than the recreational market. A.T. Kearney’s study found that over 75% of respondents were aware that cannabis has beneficial but non-psychoactive components. Across all age groups, approximately 80% agreed or strongly agreed that cannabis products offer wellness or therapeutic benefits.

While a strong majority (79%) of consumers surveyed believe the products have therapeutic properties, they want to be able to trust the companies bringing them to market. Nearly three-quarters of U.S. and Canadian respondents 73% and 71%, respectively) indicated that brand was very or somewhat important in assessing the quality and safety of products derived from, or infused with, cannabis.

When asked, “How would you perceive your favorite brand if they launched a product containing cannabis?” 86% of American and 84% of Canadian respondents indicated their perceptions would be improved or would not change. Drilling down on those sentiments revealed almost half of all respondents (49%) said they would buy more frequently from brands offering cannabis products; 46% would feel more loyal to those brands; 36% felt that the brands would better represent their values; and 42% would see brands bringing cannabis products to market as “innovative or trendy.”

The survey findings translate into a huge potential consumer market for cannabis-infused products, especially given that the use of medical and recreational marijuana will be legalized throughout Canada this month. At presstime, the use of medical marijuana is legal in 30 U.S. states and recreational marijuana is legal in nine. Reform of marijuana laws will be on the ballot this November in Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah.


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