Is cannabis a threat to alcohol sales? It’s complicated, but here’s what the experts say

Through Maureen Meihan

With the legal cannabis industry in the US on track to generate more than $46 billion by 2026, many in the alcohol and beverage industry are viewing the cannabis industry as a unique opportunity to expand and reach new consumers, although it is just as many are ailing relief at the impact this could have on alcohol sales.

Roy Bingham, co-founder and CEO of BDSA, said there is no need to worry that coexistence is here today. BDSA is the leading provider of market research solutions to the global cannabinoid industry.

“Today, more consumers than ever are combining cannabis with alcohol, especially when relaxing or hanging out with friends,” Bingham said.

Use of cannabis by alcohol users is increasing according to BDSA’s Consumer Insights data, but consumer attitudes also show that alcohol and cannabis use opportunities are so disparate that the alleged threat to alcohol sales from legal cannabis is low. There has been a significant increase in the number of cannabis users who report using cannabis with certain types of alcohol.

Photo by Adam Jaime via Unsplash

“We’ve also seen an increase in unexpected use opportunities as consumers expand and use cannabis in new ways, such as while indulging in fine dining or exercising. This shift presents a unique opportunity for brands to focus on innovation and create new products to serve these diverse uses,” Bingham told Benzinga.

Additional BDSA findings show that cannabis and alcohol go well together:

The proportion of consumers in the adult markets who report combining cannabis with spirits or spirits increased from 12% in spring 2018 to 22% in spring 2022, while the proportion reporting cannabis with cocktails doubled in spring 2022 totaled 20%.

RELATED: Americans are choosing marijuana over alcohol

High-energy social occasions such as pub nights, special events, and date nights present a lower risk of cannabis impacting alcohol sales, while use for health/wellness, creative endeavors, and certain outdoor activities are more likely to be cannabis-specific.

Continued growth in the cannabis space will provide opportunities for brands to create products with targeted formulations designed to meet consumers’ varied needs and usage occasions.

The latest wave of Consumer Insights data from the BDSA shows that more than 50% of respondents in states where cannabis is legal have used cannabis in the past six months. Diving deeper into the data clearly shows that the cannabis consumer base is knowledgeable, open to trying new product formats, and willing to experiment with incorporating cannabis into more occasions in their lives.

Marijuana is replacing alcohol during the pandemic and may have long-term benefitsPhoto by Cavan Images/Getty Images

RELATED: More than 40% of people admit to doing this while consuming weed or alcohol

In just a few years, the BDSA found that attitudes towards cannabis were changing rapidly across the country, with the proportion of those who have “bought into” cannabis use skyrocketing while fewer and fewer say they use cannabis not to be open to.

Overall, consumer participation in medical markets is lower, but BDSA data suggests consumer participation is growing at a similar rate.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been republished with permission.

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