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Vapor Trails

Gen Z + Millennials Smoke Boomers in Vape Sales According to Data from Headset

By: NewTropic

If there is some small bit of luck in cannabis’ slow ride to legalization, it’s that it met Big Data in the middle. After all, knowing who your customer is and what she or he likes allows you to make it for them and sell it to them a lot more easily. Suddenly everyone is happy — a nice, if uncommon, end result in the cannabis world

Sure, we know big data rocks, but what about micro-data sets? Turns out, tiny is mighty. At least that’s the news from the analytics company, which in July released a fascinating report detailing California’s customer “wallet share,” a big look at a small slice of consumers and how they spend.

The whole world is one big data problem.

- Andrew McAffee


Sunflare man vaping

The report details such reassuring discoveries as that Boomers are still smoking a lot of their weed, just as they did at Woodstock. And, while they might hit the dispensary up less often, they’re spending more money.

Millennials (currently between ages 23-38) and their younger siblings Gen Z (no older than 22) spend only about $25 each dispensary visit but visit a lot more often. (Think: two-week paycheck cycles.) Boomers spend closer to $100 each visit but don’t shop as often. And while Millennials make up the majority of all dispensary sales at 52%, Gen Z is rapidly catching up.

In fact, when it comes to vaping, they now dominate. While flower remains the largest basket share for both men and women, 20% of Millennials favor vapes and 27.1% of Gen Z, most of whom aren’t yet old enough to even enter a dispensary, do so. In fact, within the concentrates category, Gen Z is the most inclined, according to Headset, with 31% of their check-out baskets including something from that category, compared to 23% for everyone else.

Inhalation Nation

That’s a big gap and one predicted to grow wider, last year’s Vapegate crisis notwithstanding, as younger cannabis consumers who have grown up rejecting tobacco-packed cigarettes in the Juul age translate that preference directly to cannabis. Studies show that these young adults have some wishful ideas about the addictive impact of nicotine vaping and it’s likely they’ve transferred the preference to cannabis, which has so far been shown to be non-addictive. Customers across the board favor the vape pens’ discreet nature, measured dose, and overall portability. Interestingly, Gen Z don’t seem to associate vaping with smoking, though both draw into the lungs.

Boomers, who grew up smoking cigarettes, no longer seem to enjoy smoking anything. But the Silent Generation (age 75 and better) who use concentrates to dab also buy slightly more pre-rolls than their younger brethren, “suggesting they’re not as averse to inhalable products as the rest of their generation,” according to the report. But as you can see below, it’s the youngest kids who — with their interest in vaping and dabbing concentrates — make up the largest market share of combustibles.

Inhalation Nation

Headset CEO Cy Scott zeroes in on a particularly important point brands should consider when trying to reach a demographic as specific yet elusive as Gen Z: First consider the placement.

Brands should ask themselves if they’re appealing to the right demographic.

- Cy Scott

CEO, Headset

“Brands should ask themselves if they’re appealing to the right demographic,” says Scott, “and if their products are at the right price point. If you’ve got a wellness product that appeals to Boomers seeking pain relief, are you placing it with a dispensary that provides transportation to seniors? If you want to capture the Gen Z market, is your product a vapor pen and is it inexpensive enough?”

As Scott knows better than most, every cohort has its favorites, with the Silent Generation favoring palliatives and edibles; Boomers still down for flower but actively purchasing wellness and CBD-heavy products; Gen X buying a little bit of everything with a nostalgic bent for their own childhoods; Millennials tending towards vaping but showing a curiosity about all affordably products; and little Gen Z going big on vape products, with women’s vape consumption slightly surpassing their flower intake.

Whether big or small, data tells stories. In this case we come to understand that, in states like California, cannabis has been legal in one way or another for Gen Z’s entire life. Cell phones and the Internet have always existed for them. These young leaders have a lifetime of experimentation ahead of them — and for now, they seem ready to breathe it all in.

Special thanks to Headset for their contribution to this article. Headset provides leading data and market intelligence solutions for the cannabis industry, and is a NewTropic partner.

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