Sunday Times

SA’s cannabis crop ‘ripe for picking’


● Companies across industries are chasing an attractive new demographi­c. These dream customers are more likely to own pets and to love fashion, to want kids and to consider starting their own business. They also make quite a bit of money — and are still spending it during the pandemic.

Who is this ideal mystery consumer? None other than the cannabis user, once viewed as an anti-materialis­tic layabout. They’re so attractive a demographi­c, in fact, that some consumer goods and technology companies are actively courting them.

That’s been the case at Uber Technologi­es, which hired cannabis advertiser Fyllo late last year in its first attempt to specifical­ly target dagga users when advertisin­g its fooddelive­ry service, Uber Eats.

And it’s not just about serving people who have the munchies after smoking marijuana, said Uber’s global head of media, Travis Freeman.

“A cannabis consumer is younger than the normal consumer, has more disposable income; they are busier than most, they are working all the time, exercising all the time, going on adventures all the time,” Freeman said. The results have been good: Uber has found that cannabis users are more likely to watch and complete video ads than the average consumer.

Fyllo said other companies from outside the marijuana industry are also trying to tap into this enticing demographi­c. The growing interest helped Fyllo close a $3m (R42.8m) funding round last week.

“We’re seeing a lot more mainstream brands,” said Fyllo chief operating officer Katie Ford. “Some of the biggest alcohol companies want to target the cannabis consumer. Our platform allows them to do that.”

Gone are the old clichés about washed-up stoners. An MRI-Simmons survey from 2020 showed that people who consumed cannabis are 22% more likely than noncannabi­s users to seek out variety in their everyday lives, 32% more likely to want to be first to try new products and services, and 25% more likely to make impulse purchases. They’re also good at influencin­g: they’re 27% more likely to keep social media feeds updated and 25% more likely to share their opinions by posting ratings or reviews.

That has corporate America’s attention. A November survey by Forrester Consulting, commission­ed by Fyllo, that talked to marketing executives at large US companies showed that 82% were interested or very interested in having more insights into medical cannabis consumptio­n. Likewise, 77% would be interested in understand­ing recreation­al cannabis consumptio­n and 76% would be interested in CBD product consumptio­n insights, showing just how crucial this demographi­c is becoming across industries.

Of course, some consumer-goods companies are targeting cannabis consumers for a different reason: they’re looking for a way to recoup losses. “A beverage or liquor brand would want to target them because they’re losing market share,” said Fyllo CEO Chad Bronstein. “This is a way for them to keep talking to the consumers.”

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