Industry Reports

4/20 The greenest day of the year: Insights and predictions based on four years of data

April 2, 2019

Executive summary

April 20th, commonly referred to as ‘Four Twenty’, is the most important holiday in both cannabis culture and the cannabis  industry. This report examines the patterns and trends around  4/20 over the last four years of recreational cannabis sales and offers predictions for retailers, producers, and consumers for what to expect on 4/20/2019, the first time the holiday falls on a weekend. Read on to find insights about pricing and discounts, the most successful products, demographic trends, and more.

Introduction

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, so does the importance of its biggest holiday. Our data show that year after year, cannabis consumers respond extremely strongly to 4/20. Last year was no exception. It was the single biggest day of sales in 2018 by a considerable margin.

For most of the analyses in this report, we compare sales on 4/20 to the same day of the week for two months around the holiday. For example, when analyzing Friday, April 20, 2018 we compare it to an average of the four Fridays before and the four Fridays after. This makes sure that our analysis is not affected by the seasonality of the cannabis market. Additionally, thanks to Headset’s recent strategic alliance with Nielsen, a leader in global measurement and data analytics, this report will contain our first ever insights comparing cannabis trends to alcohol. 

As anyone tracking the cannabis industry will know – each state is unique. In this report, we compare the legal markets and their responses to 4/20. Has the novelty of a cannabis holiday worn off for consumers in the more mature markets of Colorado and Washington? Did Californians visit their dealer or their dispensary on 4/20? 

In our analyses of category sales on 4/20 there are valuable insights for deal-hunting customers as well as for cannabis businesses. Certain product types have their best day of the year while others are in fewer exit bags than usual. Deal hunters take note, when looking for the best value, not all package sizes are created equal.

As we’ve reported in the past, Millennials tend to open their usually-tight wallets wider than all other generations on 4/20. But this year, there’s a new generation in town. Customers in Generation Z, now the youngest demographic group in our dataset, were just beginning to age into the adult use cannabis market in 2018. How did they respond to their first legal 4/20? Spoiler Alert: they liked it. A lot.

This year, 4/20 will fall on a Saturday, a full-blown weekend, for the first time ever. Will the festivities spread into Friday night or will consumers maintain reverence for the holiday and primarily shop on Saturday? 

Read on for our insights from past years and predictions for 2019. Because we collect our data in real time, we will be able to post an update in the week after 4/20 – stay tuned!

Methodology

Data for this report comes from real-time sales reporting by participating Washington State, California, Nevada, and Colorado cannabis retailers via their point-of-sale systems, which are linked up with Headset’s business analytics software. This report is based on data collected from retailers on 4/20 and the four same days of the week before and after 4/20 in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Demographic data is from voluntary participants in store loyalty programs. Those data are cross-referenced with our catalog of over 330,00 products and $4.5 billion of transactions to provide detailed information on market trends.

Headset’s data is very reliable, as it comes directly from our partner retailers. However, the potential does exist for misreporting in the instance of duplicates, incorrectly classified products, inaccurate entry of products into point-of-sale systems, or even simple human error at the point of purchase. Thus, there is a slight margin of error to consider.

Dank bud vs cold brewskis

As we’ve watched for four years now, a format-specific holiday, like 4/20, clearly drives consumers to shop. In 2018, sales grew by 111% on 4/20. But what about a different holiday/product pair? In the United States, Independence Day (July 4th) is a holiday stereotypically celebrated with parades, fireworks, barbecuing, and beer. Thanks to our new strategic alliance with Nielsen, Headset is able to report on the US retail alcohol market for the first time. 

According to Nielsen, at all Off-Premise Outlets, beer sales during the two-week period including July 4th, 2018, were 33% over an average two weeks in 2018. The combination of summer weather, patriotic festivities, and time off work clearly makes a big impact on the category. 

Shown below, the cannabis market sticks to it’s self-identified holiday, and only saw a 5% increase in sales during the week of July 4th, 2018.


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Team Headset

With extensive experience within the cannabis industry, Headset is comprised of a team of industry experts, data scientists and market analysts combining our abilities in technology, design and data to help push the cannabis industry forward.