How to Conduct Market Research with Cannabis Users

cannabis leaves

The use of recreational cannabis has increased over the past few years as it has become more legal in several states across the country.

As a result, many questions are being asked to learn and understand purchasing behaviors of cannabis users

Common questions asked by cannabis distillery decision-makers often include:

  • What is the size of the market?
  • What are the most popular ways cannabis is consumed? 
  • How can we effectively advertise to our target audience?       

Conducting market research with cannabis users is a practical, thorough, and economical approach to answering these questions. 

Whether it be a custom study or purchasing a report with existing cannabis market consumer data, relying on data-driven insights is the most effective approach to decision-making. 

In this article, our market research company discusses how to conduct cannabis market research, the benefits, and a real-world example of how we survey cannabis users.

cannabis consumer report slides - drive research

Don't waste time and resources guessing what cannabis users want – let our 2023 Cannabis Consumer Insights Report guide you to success. 

Types of Cannabis Market Research

As a cannabis dispensary owner, marketer, grower, or distributor, market research can be an important tool to help better understand target customers, improve your products and services, and ultimately drive revenue.

There are many types of market research you can conduct. A market research company like Drive Research can help determine what methodology is best based on your unique objectives, timeline, and budget.

In the meantime, here are some types of market research best suited for the cannabis industry:

  1. Online surveys: Conducting online surveys can be an effective way to gather information about your target market, including their preferences, needs, and demographics. You can also use dispensary customer surveys to gather feedback on your products and services, as well as to assess customer satisfaction.

  2. Focus groups: Hosting focus groups can be a great way to get more in-depth, detailed feedback from cannabis consumers. You can recruit and bring together a small group of people that match your target audience to discuss specific topics related to cannabis usage, consumption, and preferences.

  3. Competitor analysis: Analyzing your competitors can help you understand their strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas where you can differentiate your dispensary. You can research their product offerings, pricing strategies, and marketing tactics to inform your own strategy.

  4. Online analytics: Analyzing your website and social media analytics can provide valuable insights into your customer base, including their demographics, behavior, and preferences. You can use this information to optimize your local SEO and improve your marketing efforts.

  5. Secondary research: This involves analyzing existing data that has been previously collected by other sources, such as government reports, market research firms like Drive Research, and industry associations. 

Steps to Conduct Market Research with Cannabis Users

Although there are many ways to conduct market research with cannabis consumers, online surveys are the most popular and cost-effective way to gather insights from marijuana users.

Whether you partner with an online survey agency like Drive Research or conduct the study in-house, the steps we outline below are a fantastic way to gather valuable insights to inform business and marketing decisions.

online survey process

1. Define your research objectives:

The first step in conducting any type of survey is to define your research objectives and goals. It can be helpful to meet with internal stakeholders and discuss them.

Questions we typically ask our clients in a kickoff meeting when learning about their objectives include:

  • What information are you trying to gather?
  • What are the must-have questions you want to ask?
  • What do you hope to achieve with your survey?
  • Who is your target audience to take the survey?

2. Develop your survey questions

The objectives and goals discussed in the kickoff meeting will pave the way for writing survey questions.

Here are a few tips our market research company recommends when writing the survey:

  • Develop questions that are clear and concise, and avoid leading or biased questions.
  • Consider using a mix of closed-ended and open-ended questions to gather both quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Soft launch your survey with a small sample of cannabis users to ensure that the questions are effective and easy to understand.

For more tips and tricks, use our online survey testing checklist to ensure higher data quality and response rates.

3. Distribute your survey

Identify your target population and determine how you will source respondents for the survey.

For instance, Drive Research finds survey respondents through social media, trusted third-party panel vendors, and email lists shared by our dispensary clients.

Additionally, when conducting market research with cannabis users, we like to provide clients with a live reporting link so they can see up-to-the-second results.

Drive Research online survey portal

💡 Pro tip: Be sure to use a representative sample of marijuana users to ensure that your findings are accurate and applicable to your target population. This includes an equal representation of genders, ages, income levels, and other demographics.

4. Analyze and interpret your cannabis consumer data

Once you have collected your survey data, analyze it using statistical software or a spreadsheet. 

Look for patterns or trends in the data and use them to inform your business decisions.

Although, if you're working with a third-party market research company, they will handle this task.

We'll also review data by demographics, such as age or gender, to identify differences in cannabis use patterns, preferences, habits, and more.

Benefits of Conducting Cannabis Market Research

Based on our research, 48% of cannabis consumers use cannabis on a daily basis. What's more, 78% of cannabis users report their usage will only increase or stay the same in the next 12 months.

Plus, with more states legalizing marijuana it is likely more people are going to be interested in trying cannabis.

Therefore getting a head start on surveying this audience to understand their perceptions, buying habits, and consumption preferences will put you ahead of the competition.

cannabis usage stat

Conducting cannabis consumer market research can provide a number of benefits for cannabis brands, including:

  1. A better understanding of target consumers: Market research can help brands gain a deeper understanding of their target consumers, including their demographics, preferences, and behaviors. This information can be used to develop cannabis marketing strategies and product offerings that better meet the needs of consumers.

  2. Enhanced product development: By gathering feedback from consumers, cannabis brands can gain insights into the factors, perceived benefits, and pricing that are most important to their target market. With this insight, growers and distributors can refine existing products as well as develop new ones that better meet the needs of sellers.

  3. Competitive advantage: Market research can help cannabis brands gain a competitive advantage by identifying gaps in the market, emerging trends, and areas where competitors are underperforming. As a result, brands can develop more refined sales and marketing strategies to differentiate the brand and gain market share.

  4. Improved advertising effectiveness: Market research can provide valuable insights into consumer behavior, such as their decision-making process and top sources of awareness. This unique data can be used to develop more effective marketing campaigns that resonate with cannabis consumers and drive more business.

  5. Higher customer satisfaction: By gathering feedback from consumers, cannabis brands can identify areas where they may be falling short in terms of customer satisfaction. Based on customer feedback, dispensaries can focus on improving problem areas. Doing so will lead to increased loyalty and repeat business.

Case Study: Market Research with Cannabis Users

Project Objectives

Although the cannabis industry is growing rapidly, there are still many misconceptions that distillers must overcome to advertise and sell their products.

Herein lies the need for cannabis consumer market research.

For instance, the objectives of a recent market research study were to gather feedback and opinions of recreational and medical cannabis users from targeted regions in a particular state.  

The client conducted a similar study with us in 2020 and some of the results were measurable to 2021.

In addition, the 2021 study included new topics around cannabis preferences such as brands, marketing approaches, and delivery methods. 

Solution: Online Survey with Cannabis Users

To address the objectives at hand, Drive Research recommended using an online survey to collect feedback.

It is often an approach we recommend for consumer studies because surveys offer high-quality results that are both quick and cost-effective.

If your brand is looking for measurable or benchmarkable data, a quantitative survey is your best bet compared to mail or phone surveys.

The target respondent was recreational and medical cannabis users in a specific U.S. state.

Respondents were above the age of 21 and were represented from different regions within the state.   

Person designing a survey on his laptop with coffee

Approach to Surveying Cannabis Users

We begin all studies with our clients with a kickoff meeting. This helps us understand the client’s expectations and introduce our project management style.

For this study, our online survey agency recapped objectives from the proposal and discussed the timeline for the study. 

The survey included 29 questions and took an average of 4 minutes to complete

The topics discussed in the survey included: 

  • Attitudes surrounding the legalization of the social consumption of cannabis in the state
  • Cannabis dispensary/brand preferences     
  • Cannabis consumption methods and delivery preferences 

Like most studies, we drafted the survey based on our initial discussions and sent it over to the client to suggest any changes or answer any questions they may have.

Once they signed off on the survey, we started programming it into our software and had it tested by our market research team.

Additionally, we chose to partner with a third-party company to help us reach our targeted audience.

The study had a low incidence rate, meaning our targeted respondent was more difficult to find in the general population.

Therefore, we needed to utilize the capability of the external company to provide eligible respondents quickly to ensure we would reach our sample goal and stay on our initial project timeline. 

Results of the Market Research with Cannabis Users

The study recruited approximately 417 responses and reached its targeted number of responses of 400 after data quality checks. The margin of error was +/- 4.9%.  

We over-recruited to ensure we would have enough quality responses to include in our analysis.

Responses that were removed contained untrustworthy data that could’ve compromised the integrity of the study.

We conduct several data quality checks throughout our projects to verify that the data we analyze and deliver to our clients are reliable. 

In addition to the market research report, our team joined the client in a webinar to reveal the findings. Watch that webinar below!

The client was very satisfied with the results and felt they could utilize the results to help their business in multiple ways.

Additionally, they were amazed by the comparisons they were able to make from the 2020 study. 

This client really took it to heart when we told them after their initial study that the data collected answered a lot of questions but raised many more.

They were determined to understand this industry better and were invested in answering the next-level questions that most businesses and organizations are always trying to find.

Final Thoughts

By conducting market research with cannabis users, dispensaries, growers, and distributors can gain a deeper understanding of their customers and competitors, and make data-driven decisions that ultimately improve your offerings and drive revenue.

Whether it be collecting consumer feedback through online surveys, focus groups, or secondary research these insights will allow you to gain a competitive advantage in a rapidly growing industry.

Contact Us to Conduct Market Research with Cannabis Users

Drive Research is a full-service market research company located in Upstate New York. Our team partners with brands across the country to execute both quantitative and qualitative studies.

All industries, new or established, can utilize consumer studies to better understand key drivers such as preferences, attitudes, and trends. Market research is an effective way to learn what aspects are most prominent in any industry.   

No matter the size or scope of your next consumer study, we know how to provide you with valuable insights to help your business grow!    

Interested in partnering with our team on a cannabis market research study? Contact us below.

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


Justin Eisenhauer

As a Research Analyst, Justin works directly with all team members on client projects. His intrigue in market research formed during his time at Marist College, where he studied business and entrepreneurship. He knows how to approach market data from a client perspective and provides valuable insights to help them be successful.

Learn more about Justin, here.

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