From hippies to hip pain
32 states have passed cannabis usage into law for medical purposes. California was the first over 23 years ago. 10 states have done the same for recreational use. You may be surprised to learn that Seniors are leading the charge embracing the benefits of medicinal cannabis as well as indulging in the pleasures stemming from recreational use.
Our conventional image of ‘pot’ users dates back to the 60’s when today’s Seniors were experimenting with all kinds of drugs. Despite the legal consequences and risk of incarceration back then, those free-spirited offenders, now in their sixties and beyond, thought the risk was worth it. These people are now your parents or grandparents!
The stigma once tied to marijuana or cannabis usage has given way to Starbucks-like retail dispensaries – well-lit and well stocked with products designed to enhance your mood, sex life, daily exercise regimen, and address a variety of aches and pains.
According to a national survey of nearly 50,000 responders, the Drug Use and Health study of patients 50-64 found using marijuana daily or weekly rose 58% between 2002 and 2014. Patients 60+ have shown an increase in use of 250%. These growth rates by the original adopters are fastest among all user groups. Talk about influencers!
Such response to legal use has not gone unnoticed by the financial and investment community despite marijuana continuing to be classified as a schedule 1 drug along with heroin. All of Canada will sell legal cannabis for medical and recreational use this October. And year over year growth is stoking the fires of American firms anxious to invest here.
While the debate around addiction to opioids goes on, Seniors and the medical community have embraced usage of hemp-based CBD products as well as recreational use of cannabis products.CBD products, whether edible or in liquid, lotion or tablet form, provide needed relief from disorders associated with aging that up to now have led to a pill popping addiction.
AARP has created a list of ‘alternatives to pills’ for Seniors over 65 wary of the side effects from a heavy dependence from their medicine cabinet. This includes dependence for medical issues such as:
- Heart failure
- Increase in blood pressure
- Stomach bleeding and ulcers
- Toxic kidneys
Replacing as many as 5 or 6 pills with a CBD derivative product is driving acceptance among Seniors and they’re sharing the results with family and physicians.
All this adoption by Seniors is speeding the process of legalization in the remaining states to help fuel the projected to growth to $50 billion by 2025 (Grand View Research). When you realize that 100 years have passed since prohibition ended and today the US liquor industry will generate $81 billion sales in 2019, it won’t take many growing cycles for the cannabis industry to reach or exceed that number. Especially considering that the brewers of Corona and Heineken are among those developing ‘infused beverages’ using a low percentage of THC.
Marketers sitting on the fence about targeting aging consumers will soon realize that those who are 55 and older are not that different today than they were 10 to 20 years earlier. The exception being they have extra years of wisdom, significantly more wealth, and the freedom to live the next couple of decades doing exactly what they want.
Smart marketers should follow the money trail Seniors are blazing in the cannabis industry and many other product categories missed by holding to tightly to the 18-49 crowd. Their marketing insights may point to the vast sums you’re leaving on the table.
- Brian Morris and I have been good friends and industry competitors for years. We both have run major advertising agencies and both have held top level client-side positions. I am a former partner at ad agency Davis, Ball and Colombatto, and the former Chief Marketing Officer at McDonalds and President, Theatrical Marketing for Warner Brothers. Brian and I are now in our 60’s and came together in 2017 to form a company that understands the Senior market better than traditional ad agencies, Silver Advertising. We are now poised to be passionate advocates for these consumers as they enter their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond.
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