IRI: Cannabis Legalization Could Lead to Snacking Sales Opportunities

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IRI: Cannabis Legalization Could Lead to Snacking Sales Opportunities

Legalized cannabis

CHICAGO — Legalization of cannabis products will likely lead to new opportunities, particularly in the snack category, according to Cannabis Attitude and Usage, a new study released by IRI. 

Focused on understanding the attitudes and usage motivations of legal adult cannabis users, the study also projects the impact of further legalization on consumer product purchase habits.

Cannabis Attitude and Usage was conducted in collaboration with mobile market research firm MFour and surveyed recent buyers of cannabis products to drive purchase-based insights, as well as a broader general population panel representing all markets to understand projected impacts of legal marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD).

"The expanding legalization of cannabis products is already a disruptive force in the CPG industry," said Robert I. Tomei, president of market and shopper intelligence for IRI. "IRI's consumer and shopper insights into the impact of cannabis on purchase motivations and behaviors provide critical opportunities for brands to understand the substitution effects and innovation opportunities created by this category-defying ingredient."

Key findings of the study include:

  • Cannabis consumers defy stereotypes. Recent buyers in markets where adult use is legal span generations, gender and socioeconomic backgrounds. Customers also seek a diverse array of benefits from their purchase.
  • Motivations vary by product type. Legal marijuana buyers primarily seek relaxation, while CBD buyers were more likely to cite treatment of medical symptoms as a factor.
  • Cannabis products replace consumers' purchases of over-the-counter (OTC) medication. More than 45 percent of legal marijuana and CBD consumers report that that dispensary purchases in legal markets replace their purchases of over-the-counter medication.
  • Legalization creates opportunities — especially in snacking. Study participants in both legal and non-legal markets expect that they are most likely to increase their purchases of baked goods, candy, salty snacks and gum as a result of the legalization of cannabis products.

"Findings like these illuminate the risks and opportunities created by the introduction of cannabis products to more consumers," said Carl Edstrom, senior vice president and principal of survey solutions for IRI. "While over-the-counter medication brands risk losing market share as a result of broader usage, there are opportunities for brands to leverage the broad appeal of the legal cannabis attribute and incorporate cannabis ingredients into new OTC medication, and certain food products to capture greater value."