Consumer Loyalty in Cannabis Patients: Top Five Takeaways

August 4, 2017


As the variety of cannabis products on the market expands, so too does the competition between companies to win the loyalty of cannabis patients.  So what drives loyalty amongst medical marijuana patients and how can companies earn this loyalty?  To find out, Brightfield Group surveyed more than 400 medical marijuana patients in California.  

Brand recognition is important

While few cannabis consumers admit to being influenced by advertising or social media posts on cannabis products, nearly half are hesitant to purchase a cannabis brand they have never heard of and more than half report looking for as much information as possible before making their purchases.  This is particularly true of younger consumers, who are more accustomed to the idea of branded cannabis products and habitually research on their smart phones in-store before any new purchases. Therefore, it is important that cannabis brands mind their digital presence, ensuring they have professional websites, supportive user reviews on social media sites and generate as much positive publicity as possible so potential consumers become aware of their brands.  

Marijuana users are loyal customers, and loyalty is valuable

Between 60 and 70 percent of marijuana users surveyed are loyal to their brands, so much so that they are willing to pay more money and travel farther to get them. Frequent users[1] are some of the most brand-loyal customers – more strongly agreeing with all of the loyalty statements listed in the chart below than do less frequent users. Clients such as these make up an intrinsic part of any successful manufacturer or dispensary’s client base; The frequent user demographic made over 70% of the cannabis purchases reported among all users over a given two-week period. This makes them not only loyal customers, but loyal customers who make up a majority of sales. Businesses offering consistent product quality over time will receive generous returns in the form of frequent, long-term customers who remain loyal to their brands. Keeping the customer base happy will also help ensure that loyal customers continue providing free, valuable word-of-mouth marketing for their favorite brands.

Women are strongly influenced by friends when shopping around for cannabis

Among women, it is common to decide on a new brand of marijuana to try based upon the recommendations of friends, sales people or family members. In fact, 43% of women surveyed indicated this as one of the first things that draws them to a new brand, making these recommendations one of the greatest factors influencing their decisions. Therefore, having a product that customers consistently enjoy over time is even more important when targeting new female clientele, as offering quality products will lead to positive “buzz” and word-of-mouth marketing, which is not only commonplace in this industry, but evidently a major factor behind women’s decisions when it comes to venturing into a new cannabis brand.

Percentage of respondents who agreed with each of the above statements

Percentage of respondents who agreed with each of the above statements: Men care about more about packaging than women do


Nearly three-fourths of those first drawn to a new brand of cannabis by its packaging are males. The two most important priorities when it comes to marijuana package design, according to men surveyed, are that it be environmentally friendly and discreet. The other two most appealing characteristics are the degree to which packaging is durable and childproof. Companies primarily targeting their products at males should put additional effort into creating attractive, discreet packaging that is environmentally friendly whenever possible, allowing them to more effectively appeal to and capture new male clients. Dispensaries or manufacturers looking to continue expanding their male client base over time should be sure to keep designs updated in order to stay fresh and competitive, bearing these preferences in mind, when marketing to this gender.

Occasional users are more price sensitive than frequent users

early half of occasional cannabis users (those who use 1-3 times per month) first look at price when considering a new brand, but only about one quarter of those who use marijuana daily are first drawn to a new brand by its price. Rather than competing on price, those looking to recruit new customers who are daily or frequent users should focus efforts on improving brand quality, reputation with current users, and in-store availability. Since frequent users most commonly cite the recommendations of friends and family, as well as availability of a brand at their local dispensary, as the first things that draw them to a new brand, improving the factors listed above should appeal to more clients than will minor price adjustments. Since daily users and most frequent users do not appear to be highly price sensitive, another point that can be inferred from this data is that incremental product price hikes will be unlikely to drive away core business - or deter new business - from this demographic group, which typically makes the majority of marijuana purchases.

[1] For the purposes of this survey, “frequent users” are considered to be those who use cannabis five or more times per week.

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