Women are the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis consumers—a statistic less to do with successful marketing and more with legalization, access, and pandemic-induced lifestyle changes. Yet, cannabis companies on the whole are missing the mark on this growing opportunity. Studies reveal that women make up at least 26% of the cannabis market, albeit an unreliable statistic considering a Women & Weed survey reveals 66% of women hide their cannabis use.
Going a step further, Harvard Business Review confirms the economy is overwhelmingly influenced by women, dubbing it the Female Economy. They state that women control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending globally. Women make the majority of household purchase decisions, shopping for their partners, households, and family across all industries–travel and recreation, home furnishings, grocery, clothing, alcohol, and, yes, even cannabis. On top of this, women’s earned income is currently higher than ever in history.
Despite this, the vast majority of companies are failing to connect with the female audience. Think of body wash: Marketers will title a scent “orange hefeweizen” for the ever-masculine beer drinkers, while the same exact scent is titled “orange blossom beauty” for women, who, by virtue of their femaleness, must be desperate to buy something to make them feel beautiful. Extraneous names for the sake of being more feminine, pink packaging, and quick-fix messaging all just fall flat for consumer products. Moreover, cannabis has its own set of challenges in connecting with women. In an emerging industry, there is a deep lack of consumer education, resources, and customer service that women often look for before making a purchase. Lacking time to do the research themselves, they lean into brands that can serve as a trusted resource.
So, what can cannabis companies do to successfully market to the female demographic? It’s impossible to resonate with every female cannabis consumer, but there are a few proven strategies that rise to the top.
Make your brand authentically you, and stand by it.
We hear the buzzword “authenticity” a lot, but what does it really mean? To represent one’s true nature or beliefs is to be authentic. You claim your brand cares about the environment? Prove it. Your cannabis products supposedly improve quality of life? Show us how. Because women make an overwhelming amount of purchase decisions in a single week, they tend to be far more brand loyal, as to not waste time researching. But to achieve brand loyalty, women seek a connection and a real reason to feel good about that purchase decision. Tell a strong, authentic story that resonates, and you’ll build connections for life.
2. Connect with wellness.
It’s no secret that women care more about their health than men. They typically eat better, drink less, and live longer, and this translates perfectly into cannabis. Women are more intentional with their cannabis intake, citing reasons such as improved sleep and lessened anxiety. Millennials are the top age group in female cannabis use, as those customers are reaching an age where health becomes more of a priority. Women are also statistically far more likely to take care of their mental health, the area in which cannabis can claim most of its health benefits. Demonstrating the relationship between cannabis and wellness not only connects with current users but will also fight stigmas and connect with women who may be hesitant to try cannabis.
“Currently, the most common medical treatment for anxiety disorders are benzodiazepines, medications which are twice as likely to be prescribed to women as men. CBD presents a potentially promising alternative to benzodiazepines for treating anxiety . . .”
3. Reflect your product’s quality in its branding and packaging.
Yes–packaging does matter to women, but not in the pink-and-frills way you may think. Women are far more likely to make a purchase based on the quality of packaging and its design. In terms of cannabis products, simple, mature packaging with clear information has the most success with the female demographic. It comes down to psychology; this style of packaging creates a stronger sense of trust compared to a poorly printed copy of a stoner’s eyeballs that looks like it came out of someone’s basement. Kiva Confections, for instance, provides edible products with a stunning design, including chocolate bars that would never look out of place at a place like Trader Joe’s.
4. Be specific–marketing “to women” isn’t enough.
“If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one.”
Appealing to all women is an impossible task. Rather, focus on what sets your brand apart on a meaningful level, then determine who your target audience is and how women specifically fit into that. Is your CBD oil the perfect solution for hardcore runners looking to relieve pain? Does your unique packaging appeal to moms who would prefer to keep their cannabis use discreet? Start by asking what problems your business can solve, and you’ll surely be able to discover who your ideal audience is.
As consumers become increasingly resistant to marketing gimmicks and as distinctions of gender become more blurred, it’s important to state that consumer demographics are not what they used to be. Abstract things like values, wellness habits, and interests are now superior to more straightforward demographics like age, location, and gender. Find what authentically sets your brand apart, work to solve a problem well, and the Female Economy will come to you.