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While many might think of cannabis as something for younger generations to partake in, there is a steady rise in consumption by the "Baby Boomer" generation. According to a study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association, marijuana use grew by 75% among Americans aged 65 and older between the years of 2015 and 2018. Total use in that age group jumped to 4.2% from 2.4%. Although those percentages might seem small, the study's author Benjamin Han pointed out, "Consider that not even 10 years ago 0.4% of adults 65 and older said they had used marijuana in the past year, and now it's 10 times that at 4%."
If you frequent dispensaries across the U.S., you are likely to come across some of those increasing numbers of baby boomers looking to get a taste of the marijuana that has been demonized and forbidden for most of their lifetimes. Perhaps it's an older woman peppering their budtender with questions about edibles. Or, maybe it is a bald businessman nervously inquiring about different types of flower. Regardless, baby boomers make up a massive demographic in this country that retailers across the spectrum of industries are looking to tap into - and the cannabis industry is no exception.
There are an estimated 73 million baby boomers (defined as born between 1946 to 1964) and they have a remarkably high net worth compared to other generations of Americans. According to a study done byMagnify Money, the average baby boomer has a net worth of $1,210,100. Compare that figure with the average Generation X (ages 36 to 51) net worth of $509,100 and the average millennial (20 to 35) net worth of $100,800 and its easy to see why retailers want to get their attention.
Cannabis retailers should be excited. Boomers are the fastest-growing group of new cannabis users and their rate of consumption continues to grow. As an older population, the need for medication that is tolerable and effective (and devoid of the side effects of intense opiates) is profound and boomers are now learning that they can turn to medical marijuana to ease their aches and pains. In fact, the AARP, which has 38 million members, announced their support for the medical use of marijuana for older adults in states where it is legal in February of 2019. Couple that with a genuine interest in the recreational benefits of newly legal cannabis use and the potential for sales only increases. Where's Weed has several tips for ways that dispensaries and other cannabis businesses can get a jump on attracting and retaining baby boomers as regular customers.
Quality customer service is critical to any successful retail endeavor, but it is uniquely important when it comes to assisting older adults with marijuana options. Most are used to receiving specific instructions and guidance from personal physicians when it comes to medication and a well-trained dispensary staff can go a long way toward building trust with patients or recreational users. Avoid the use of slang or terms that are obscure or might not be known to older generations. Keeping explanations and descriptions simple and to the point will result in a positive weed shopping experience for cannabis-curious boomers.
Education links closely with customer service but can be done in a variety of ways inside and outside of the dispensary. Many cannabis businesses have educational information on their websites geared toward older adults that is clear and easily understandable. Another option is to create a basic guidebook for baby boomers that focuses on probable medical and recreational cannabis wants and needs. Another helpful tool could be an outline for how seniors can integrate cannabis into their broader wellness regime. Simply stepping into a dispensary and seeing a cohesive educational outreach plan for seniors can be a real draw. Social media can be a great outlet for this information, with 82% of baby boomers having at least one social media account.
Most baby boomers are not looking for the strain with the highest percentage of THC. They might remember the good old days of smoking a joint and getting high but are not interested in a couch-lock scenario or the potential for paranoia that some modern hybrids might exhibit. Dispensaries that have a solid selection of low-THC, high-CBD strains and edibles will be attractive to many older adults who might prefer a cannabis product that they can confidently use knowing it will not leave them uncomfortably intoxicated. Boomers also tend to prefer capsules and pills to smoking, so a strong selection of alternative consumption methods is also important. A large number of seniors, "just want to feel better." Boomers will also be attracted to products geared toward sleep assistance and pain reduction
Boomers want dispensaries that are close to home and convenient. Stores near retirement communities or neighborhoods with a large population of older adults add a convenience factor that will make seniors gravitate toward that particular location. When coupled with an understanding staff and an educational base, dispensaries that cater to baby boomers with a strategically located store can thrive. Geo-targeting can also direct particular marketing campaigns and determine who receives marketing information - the result will be an increase in the chance that the customer will be engaged with the promotions.
Seniors are not terribly enamored with loyalty discounts. Price breaks due to age are far more to their liking. Dispensaries that publicize deals on products purchased by people over a certain age are far more likely to attract members of the older set because they know that not only will they be getting a good deal, but that the dispensary has their demographic in mind. Discounts can be linked to strategic customer service and an educational approach for baby boomers that will compel them to become loyal customers.
Do you own or manage a dispensary that understands the baby boomer market? How do you cater to their needs? Have you employed any of the techniques described above? Take a second and let us know in the comment section.