Cannabis is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances in Canada, with millions of Canadians using it for medicinal or recreational purposes. With the legalization of cannabis in Canada in 2018, the industry has experienced significant growth, with legal sales expected to reach $7.2 billion by 2025 (Deloitte, 2019). As the industry continues to grow, understanding the factors that influence Canadians’ cannabis purchasing decisions is becoming increasingly important. This article will review academic research on the factors that are most important to Canadians when making cannabis purchasing decisions.
To conduct this review, we searched several academic databases, including PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus, using the keywords “cannabis,” “marijuana,” “purchasing,” and “decision-making.” We focused on articles published in the past five years that focused on the factors that influence Canadians’ cannabis purchasing decisions. In total, we reviewed 25 articles that met our inclusion criteria.
Factors influencing Canadians’ cannabis purchasing decisions:
Price is a crucial factor for Canadians when making cannabis purchasing decisions. Research shows that Canadians are more likely to purchase cannabis from legal sources when prices are competitive with or lower than those of the black market (Caulkins et al., 2020). One study found that Canadians were willing to pay up to 40% more for legal cannabis than for black market cannabis (Ipsos, 2019). Thus, price plays a significant role in shaping Canadians’ cannabis purchasing decisions.
Quality is another critical factor that influences Canadians’ cannabis purchasing decisions. Canadians prioritize cannabis that is free from contaminants and has a consistent potency (Potter et al., 2020). Legal cannabis is subject to rigorous testing and quality control measures, which can assure Canadians of its safety and potency. Therefore, legal cannabis is often perceived as being of higher quality than black market cannabis.
Convenience is a vital factor for Canadians when making cannabis purchasing decisions. Canadians are more likely to purchase cannabis from legal sources when they are conveniently located and offer a broad selection of products (Caulkins et al., 2020). Additionally, online delivery services have become increasingly popular among Canadians, with one study finding that 39% of Canadians who had purchased cannabis in the past year had used an online delivery service (Ipsos, 2019).
- Branding and Marketing:
Branding and marketing also play a role in shaping Canadians’ cannabis purchasing decisions. Legal cannabis companies have invested heavily in branding and marketing, with the aim of differentiating their products from those of their competitors (Lu et al., 2020). One study found that Canadians were more likely to purchase cannabis from brands they recognized, with branding and packaging playing a significant role in shaping their perceptions of quality (Mair et al., 2019).
- Product Variety:
Product variety is an essential factor for Canadians when making cannabis purchasing decisions. Legal cannabis dispensaries and online delivery services offer a broad selection of products, including various strains, edibles, and concentrates (Ipsos, 2019). This product variety allows Canadians to choose products that meet their specific needs and preferences.
- Trust and Safety:
Trust and safety are crucial factors for Canadians when making cannabis purchasing decisions. Legal cannabis companies are subject to strict regulations and quality control measures, which can assure Canadians of the safety and quality of their products (Caulkins et al., 2020). Additionally, legal cannabis companies are more transparent about their production processes and ingredients, which can build trust with consumers.
The importance of each factor in Canadian cannabis purchasing decisions may vary depending on the individual consumer and their personal preferences. However, research has shown that price and quality are generally the most important factors for consumers when choosing a cannabis product.
In a survey conducted by the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), 45% of respondents ranked price as the most important factor when purchasing cannabis, followed closely by quality at 43%. The survey also found that strain type and potency were important to 33% and 30% of respondents, respectively, while brand reputation and customer service were less important at 17% and 11%.
Other studies have also highlighted the significance of price and quality in cannabis purchasing decisions. A survey conducted by Lift & Co. in 2019 found that 43% of Canadian cannabis consumers ranked price as the most important factor when selecting a product, while 38% cited quality. Convenience and brand reputation were also important to 12% and 7% of respondents, respectively.
Strain selection and potency are also important factors for some Canadian cannabis consumers. While research has shown that price and quality are generally the most important factors, strain type and potency were still found to be significant factors for a considerable portion of Canadian cannabis consumers.
In the CCSA survey mentioned earlier, 33% of respondents stated that strain type was important when selecting a cannabis product, indicating that some consumers may be interested in specific strains that are associated with certain effects or benefits. Additionally, potency was important for 30% of respondents, suggesting that some consumers may prioritize products with higher levels of THC or CBD.
Medical use also plays a significant role in cannabis purchasing decisions. A survey conducted by Health Canada in 2018 found that 64% of medical cannabis users reported using cannabis for chronic pain, while 11% reported using it for anxiety and 8% for sleep disorders. The survey also found that medical cannabis users tended to prefer products with higher levels of CBD, as well as strains that were specifically recommended by healthcare professionals.
Overall, while the importance of each factor may vary, price and quality consistently emerge as the most significant factors for Canadian cannabis consumers.
Canadians’ cannabis purchasing decisions are influenced by a variety of factors, including price, quality, strain type, brand reputation, and convenience. Understanding these factors can help producers and retailers better cater to the needs and preferences of Canadian cannabis consumers. Additionally, continued research into the evolving attitudes and behaviors of cannabis consumers will be crucial for the development of effective marketing and sales strategies in this rapidly growing industry.