By Sebastien Centner
There was once a time when cannabis was banned from polite conversations and avoided by mainstream media. Fast forward to today and cannabis seems to be all anyone is talking about. Nearly one in three Americans now live in a state where cannabis is legal for recreational use. The pandemic has advanced the dissolution of old stigmas with many states legitimizing cannabis use both as a true therapy for patients and as a revenue builder for depleted coffers.
The evolving cannabis landscape is joined by shifts in consumer demographics, demands and purchasing behavior. Cannabis consumers are spending roughly 25-30% more per purchase today than they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, opening doors to introduce higher-priced, premium products. Women, who generally desire such products and control trillions in spending power, are the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis consumers. Alcohol is being replaced with cannabis as people increasingly focus on health and wellness. High-end cannabis services like marijuana sommeliers are now a real thing.
As public perception of cannabis as a taboo illicit drug melts away, it’s turning into a lifestyle. Mainstream businesses and entrepreneurs have entered the market specifically to cater to new cannabis consumers seeking a sophisticated experience more than the high. More and more women are launching female-focused brands to better serve the growing base of female customers. New and existing cannabis consumers are increasingly seeking better-quality products. The movement has spurred the development of innovative products and brands taking cues from luxury fashion, hospitality and food groups – from Louis Vuitton to Ladurée – and elevating the entire industry.
Unlike in fashion where luxury is conspicuous, luxury cannabis is rooted in self-care and wellness but with the added touch of indulgence and self-expression that sets it apart from the rest of the industry. This makes it all the more appealing to Millenials and Gen Z consumers who have a more nuanced relationship with the luxury sector. The pandemic has put health and well-being at the forefront and luxury cannabis is becoming a recognized place for affluent consumers to turn to.
In March 2019, high-end retailer Barneys New York became the first major American department store to introduce a cannabis lifestyle …