Cannabis Market Research: Measuring Purchasing Behaviors of Cannabis Users

As cannabis becomes increasingly legalized and used recreationally throughout the United States, it has become evident there is a lot to learn about cannabis consumer behavior. 

With much to learn about the cannabis industry, market research studies can be a great place to start for cannabis brands and other organizations looking to get involved in the cannabis industry. 

Some topics to explore in market research with cannabis consumers include: 

  • Frequency of purchasing and using cannabis
  • Primary reasons for the use of cannabis 
  • Preferred ways to consume cannabis
  • Selection of cannabis dispensaries 

Having proprietary data on cannabis consumers takes the guesswork out of marketing to cannabis users and allows your brand to be considered a thought leader within the cannabis industry.

By researching cannabis consumer behavior in its early stages, your brand can monitor the cannabis industry over a longer period of time and stay up to date on the latest cannabis trends.

cannabis market research study

Cannabis Market Research Project Overview

MassLive Media hired Drive Research, a PR survey company, to conduct a survey among recreational and medicinal cannabis users in and near Massachusetts. 

Since the media and marketing organization works with several brands in the cannabis industry, MassLive Media wanted to conduct a PR market research survey to understand how cannabis consumers make their purchasing decisions, such as choosing a dispensary. 

What is a PR survey? 

A PR polling study is a unique market research methodology that often results in attention-worthy findings that can be easily shared with important stakeholders, either internally or externally. 

PR surveys are especially useful for building brand awareness, becoming a thought leader, and building credibility within a specific market. 

Interested in learning more about custom PR surveys? Read more in our ultimate guide, here. 

Cannabis Market Research Objectives

Since recreational cannabis has only been legal in Massachusettes for a few years, there is still a lot to learn about cannabis consumers. 

The objectives of this PR survey focused on gathering feedback and opinions of recreational and medical cannabis users, specifically surrounding their purchasing decisions. 

With many cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts already open and several others in the works, one of the objectives of the market research was to understand if cannabis consumers were brand loyal yet.

How can the research results be used?

Ultimately, MassLive Media was able to use the results of cannabis market research in three different ways: 

  1. Obtain press coverage using the cannabis survey data 
  2. Inform marketing, content, and strategy for cannabis brands
  3. Presentation at NECANN, a major cannabis industry conference

Organizations that take advantage of PR surveys are able to repurpose the market research insights in several different ways to maximize the return on investment (ROI) from their survey data. 

Approach to Cannabis Market Research

To meet MassLive Media’s specific market research objectives, Drive Research designed a custom PR survey to collect feedback from cannabis users. 

Screening criteria included ensuring respondents were:

  • 21 years of age or older 
  • Located in/near Massachusetts
  • Have used cannabis/marijuana in the past 12 months
  • Have shopped at a cannabis dispensary in Massachusettes in the past 12 months 

Number of Responses

  • 403 

Length of Survey

  • The survey included 29 questions
  • The survey took approximately 7 minutes to complete

What was the margin of error for the cannabis PR survey?

Drive Research collected a total of 403 responses for this PR survey. At the 95% confidence level, the survey findings offer a 4.9% margin of error. 

What exactly does the margin of error mean? If the survey were conducted with another random pool of 400 cannabis consumers across New England, results would yield within +4.9% or -4.9% of the stated totals in the reports. 

The margin of error can be used as a guideline to understand the high reliability of these results. A low margin of error is especially helpful when the data is being distributed publicly with media and trade publications.

Results of the Cannabis Market Research

The cannabis market research provided MassLive Media with fresh data and insights specific to the New England cannabis market. 

The PR survey results were available to the client upon the start of fieldwork through an online reporting link. The online reporting link allowed our client to see the live collection of the survey data, which was broken down question by question. 

After fieldwork was complete, our cannabis market research company wrote an executive summary highlighting the key finding for the overall results from the cannabis consumer survey.

The five-page report also included breakdowns by key categories including age, cannabis enthusiast vs. non-enthusiast, and medical users vs. recreational users. 

What was the client's return on investment (ROI) from the market research? 

Having proprietary cannabis consumer data was highly beneficial to MassLive Media.

Within an hour after their webinar presentation at the cannabis industry conference, the media and marketing company already has several website form fills and scheduled lead calls from cannabis brands. 

Beyond generating new leads, MassLive Media is able to use the data from the cannabis consumer survey and make effective marketing decisions for their cannabis brands knowing they have a clear understanding of New England cannabis consumers. 

The Future of Cannabis Consumer Research Across the U.S.

As of the November 2020 election, 15 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized cannabis/marijuana for adult recreational use.

Recently added to the list are Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. In addition, cannabis is legal for medicinal use in 36 states. 

In the coming years, the number of states with legalized cannabis use is expected to increase significantly, especially in surrounding states where cannabis use has been legalized.

The cannabis industry is expected to grow by billions and billions of dollars over the next few years. 

It’s clear to see cannabis is a massive industry and growing. However, it’s important to remember each of these markets is unique in the types of cannabis consumers they attract.

A recreational cannabis consumer in California is going to have many different consumer preferences and habits as compares to a cannabis consumer in Massachusetts. 

Since there is no one-size-fits-all definition for a cannabis consumer, it’s important to conduct market-specific research to better understand the needs of cannabis consumers in each specific geography. 

Conduct a Cannabis Market Research Study with Drive Research

Drive Research is a full-service market research firm, specializing in the cannabis industry. Our team can execute a variety of qualitative and quantitative market research studies for cannabis dispensaries across the country.

To learn more about our services, contact Drive Research by your preferred method below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

elizabeth sincavage author of market research company blog

Elizabeth Sincavage

Elizabeth has a curious mind and is never afraid to ask “why?” She discovered her passion for research and exploring data while completing her bachelor’s degree at Marist College. As a researcher, she believes you’re never truly done learning.

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