Going to California: Emerging Trends Between the Golden State’s Major Metros

Spent my days with a woman unkind

Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine.

Made up my mind to make a new start

Going To California with an aching in my heart

-Going to California, Led Zeppelin

A full six months since the doors officially opened to California’s recreational cannabis market, there likely has been a lot of aching hearts among the state’s cannabis entrepreneurs. It’s certainly been a tough row to hoe. But to those who toil in the confusing labyrinth of laws and regulations, keep in mind you’ve got a tremendous opportunity as the world’s largest cannabis market is at your doorstep. For consumers in the Golden State, you’ll be sought-after patrons, as brands begin to fight for your cannabis dollars.

As a native Californian who spent decades in both the northern and southern regions of the state, I know all too well about the significant differences in attitude and vibe. Awareness of these got the research team at Canna Ventures to ask whether our data supported what natives and newcomers have known.

The three major metropolitan areas in the state represent roughly 73 percent of the state’s population. With such a concentration in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and San Diego, we wanted to understand if there were differences in brand tendencies among them, as well as similar tendencies in other parts of the state.

Goin’ Shoppin’

Among the three major metros, 77 percent of Bay Area cannabis consumers reported they expect to visit an adult-use retailer at least twice per month with an anticipated average sale of $50 to $99. For Angelenos, 71 percent expect to visit retail stores twice a month. More interesting, nearly 30 percent plan on spending $100 to $200 per visit, significantly higher than the Bay Area and metropolitan San Diego, which registered a 60 percent rate of twice-monthly purchases.

Interestingly, San Diego had a sizable portion of respondents planning to visit stores twice a month, yet 35 percent don’t plan on spending more than $50 per visit. In contrast, the Bay Area (22 percent) and LA (25 percent) had lower percentages of purchases of less than $50.

When we looked at the real big spenders, those who indicated they’d spend more than $200 per visit, the Bay Area came out on top at 17 percent, with San Diego’s 14 percent  edging out LA’s 13 percent.

Product Safety is A Concern

Our research revealed all the California market segments placed a premium on safe growing conditions, environmentally friendly practices, and an interest in cultivation techniques. The interest in safe practices and a more widespread understanding of growing techniques is perhaps not a surprise. California consumers have a long history of interest in consumer safety issues, such as requiring notices on buildings when a cancer-causing chemical may be present, or mandating cage-free eggs.

Mandatory testing regulations were in force effective Sunday, July 1, 2018. While this burdens the supply chain, the reality is that we consumers have a right to expect products we consume and put into our bodies to be free of contaminants and critters. Each metro area has overwhelming support for clean cannabis. Really, for something you’re going to put into your body, would you accept anything that was potentially tainted? Not me!

Ooh-LA-LA, That’s Fancy!

If you’re in the LA area, not surprisingly, products positioned as “exclusive” or “premium” were considered at least somewhat important by 73 percent of respondents. A relatively modest level of 60 percent among the chill and relaxed canna-connoisseurs of San Diego felt exclusivity was an important aspect of their product choice.

Is access to exclusive or limited-edition products appealing to you? Would you pay more for a product that had the allure of exclusivity? Although LA appreciated exclusiveness more,  Bay Area consumers believed it justifies a higher price most: 79 percent, compared with LA’s 72 percent, and San Diego’s 67 percent.

Bring It To Me!

In California, the land of cars and 8-lane freeways, delivery services are very desirable. In all three areas, we found response rates of more than  90 percent when asked, “If delivery was an option, would you have cannabis delivered to your home or office?”

Finishing Up with Audience Participation

Describe in the comments section the nastiest bag of weed you ever bought. For me, it was a $20 bag of shake with what can only be described as non-human hairlike elements. Just recounting that experience is making me queasy, but I was young, dumb and really wanted to get high. Yuck! #NeverAgain

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