January 17, 2020

Baby Boomers’ Cannabis Trends and Insights

What are Baby Boomers looking for in cannabis? Analyzing Boomers’ basket composition and preferred product categories.
Written by
Liz Connors
Published on
January 17, 2020
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Baby Boomers are one of the oldest consumer demographics in the country. Born between 1944 and 1964, there are currently 76 million individuals aged between 55-75 years old that are increasingly embracing cannabis for its medical benefits. 

Cannabis usage among this demographic has doubled from approximately 4.5% in 2006-2007 to 9% in 2018. While Baby Boomers make up a marginal percentage of the overall consumer market, an increasing number has turned to cannabis to manage chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and nausea. 

Many Boomers are also using cannabis to curb the side effects associated with chemotherapy and alleviate muscle spasms related to multiple sclerosis. Retailers and Brands can better understand the purchasing habits of this growing demographic by taking a closer look at their basket breakdown and market share of product categories. 

Flower dominates market share… but is on the decline 

Baby Boomers gravitate more towards flower products compared to other generations. However, as more products are being introduced to the retail market, Boomers, like all generations, have diversified their cannabis spending in the last three years. 

In Q1'17, 65% of Baby Boomers cannabis purchases went to flower while Gen X, Gen Z, and millennials accounted for 56% of their cannabis consumption market share going to flower. In the course of two years, Q3'19 flower market share experienced a significant decrease across all generations. Baby Boomer market share decreased to 49% and 43% for the remaining generations 

While the overall market share for flower has decreased in recent years, the downward trend may finally be plateauing. Q3'19 saw a 1% increase in flower market share from Q2'19 for both Baby Boomers and the rest of the market, which was the only instance of an increase from the previous month since its decline in Q1’17, possibly signaling the stabilization of flower market share. 

% Cannabis Flower Market Share – Baby Boomers vs. Other Generations
% Cannabis Flower Market Share – Baby Boomers vs. Other Generations

How is flower performing in Boomers’ baskets? 

Flower products still make up over half of all Baby Boomers’ purchases. In 2017, 65% of Baby Boomers' purchases contained flower. In a basket breakdown, 54% of baskets were exclusively flower purchases and 11% of purchases contained flower and an item from another category.  

In 2018, this percentage dropped by almost 9% to 56.6% of baskets containing flower and 45% of baskets exclusively containing flower. This downward trend continues in 2019, with 50.2% of Baby Boomer purchases containing flower and just under 40% of purchases exclusively containing flower. 

% of Baskets per Cannabis Category – Baby Boomers
% of Baskets per Cannabis Category – Baby Boomers

 Where is Baby Boomers' market share shifting to?

A decrease in flower market share among Baby Boomers and other consumer generations should not completely alarm retailers. Newer product categories such as infused topicals, vapes, and edibles are all experiencing tremendous growth and demand among Baby Boomers looking for novel experiences. 

Topicals have seen the fastest market share growth among Baby Boomers growing from 1.7% in 2017 to 2.8% in 2019, resulting in a whopping a 59% growth increase. Tinctures & sublinguals have experienced the second largest increase in market share with 57% growth since 2017. 

Pre-rolls, vapor pens, edibles, and beverages have also seen significant market share growth between 22-37% since 2017. Capsules and concentrates are the only products that are experiencing a relatively stable market share, consistently hovering at around 7%. Flower market share is steadily shrinking and has seen a 10% decrease in the past two years.

Baby Boomers’ Cannabis Category Market Share
Baby Boomers’ Cannabis Category Market Share

These changing preferences can be explained by an increase in product variety in the market and also by a shift in how Baby Boomers want to consume their cannabis. As Baby Boomers age, the harshness of inhaling flower products may become less appealing. Alternative products that are easier to consume in the comfort of their homes or in retirement homes, including edibles, vapes, tinctures, and topicals, are discreet and easier on their lungs. For Baby Boomers turning to cannabis for medical reasons, these products can be accurately dosed and may have a milder and steadier effect. 

To learn more about Baby Boomers and other customer segments insights, check our latest Demographics Market Report.

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