Last updated on October 13, 2021

The restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 have posed a unique challenge for the Canadian cannabis industry.

In provinces like Ontario, government stores are the only legal cannabis delivery service. Once retail stores ceased to be  ‘essential services’, stores could not pivot to delivery in quite the same way as restaurants or breweries.

Instead, many are operating versions of click and collect services. So how is the disruption impacting consumption and purchase habits? 

Here’s what we learned from Caddle’s 10,000 daily survey respondents.

Is Cannabis consumption increasing?

Since the pandemic began, cannabis users on the Caddle panel report a slight increase in use.

Just over 25% told us their consumption had increased, compared to 15.9% who reported a decline in usage. Slightly more than half of the panel reported no change in consumption.

What we have is a picture where almost 80% of users have either maintained or increased their consumption since the pandemic emerged.

Does this mean a shift to online?

Over half of the panel (52.3%) said they were now more likely to buy online compared to before the pandemic was declared.

This trend holds across almost all groups. Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X cannabis users said they were likely to try online, while the equivalent figure for Baby Boomers was 41%.

Ontarians were the most open to buying online with 55% reporting they were likely to buy online – compared to 45% in British Columbia.

The data does not distinguish between ordering online for delivery or to collect in person. However the big picture maintains the COVID-19 pandemic has potentially reduced the size market, with only about half of users considering making the switch to online purchase.

Which users are most likely to buy online?

Segmenting the users by their responses around online purchase we can group them into three distinct groups, distinguished by their consumption habits and demographic profile.

Segmenting the users by their responses around online purchase we can group them into three distinct groups, distinguished by their consumption habits and demographic profile.

Group 1 – Increasing cannabis usage, very likely to order online: Over-indexes on millennials Joints and edibles most popular means of consumption but over-indexes on bongs

Group 2 – Maintaining or Increase usage, somewhat likely to order online: Edibles and joints most popular , but under-indexes on smoking joints, over-indexes on bongs and vaping. No age skew relative to Cannabis users on Caddle panel.

Group 3- Maintaining / decreasing usage, unlikely to order online. Over-indexes on Generation X/Baby Boomer. Over-indexes on joints as preferred means of consumption.

Breaking the data down this way it’s clear that brand should be prioritizing Group 1 users in the current climate, since these users are increasing consumption and are most open to buying online.

Will Canadians switch to homegrown Cannabis?

With visiting retail stores less of an option, the other alternative to order online is growing at home. However this does not appear to be widespread across cannabis users on the Caddle panel.

While 34% said they were likely to try growing their own Cannabis, 46% said they were unlikely.

Ordering online and growing at home do not appear to be mutually exclusive. Those who indicated they were likely to increase online ordering were also the segment most likely to try growing themselves. Of the users in ‘Group 1’, 44% said they were likely to grow their own cannabis.

Main Takeaways

No.1 |
COVID Disruption has shrunk the market

Seeing half of cannabis users say they are likely to purchase more online due to the impact of coronavirus is striking.

But given the lack of official alternatives right now, this suggests that a significant proportion of users are either ceasing purchase, or purchasing outside of the licensed store system.

No.2 |
Focus must be on top users

Now more than ever Cannabis brands need to focus on the segment that is reporting higher usage. Brands need to work to understand the needs of this segment and target their campaigns and offerings accordingly.

No.3 |
Changes more likely to be temporary

Online ordering for Cannabis is less accessible than in other spaces such as groceries. We know that half of those ordering groceries online due to the pandemic will switch back after the pandemic. Given the extra restrictions around online ordering in the cannabis industry, the figure will likely be higher in this space.

*Disclaimer: all data presented is owned by Caddle and has a Margin of Error of 1% or lower.

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