Cassandra, ENGINE's insights and strategy group that studies trendsetting young consumers, and Miss Grass, a female-founded and community-driven cannabis brand, are releasing a new trends analysis, Seeing Green. Based upon Cassandra's own proprietary qualitative and quantitative research, the report showcases how as cannabis becomes increasingly socially acceptable – not to mention legal – Gen Z is poised to embrace cannabis with very different attitudes than previous generations, including a more equitable lens, fewer stigmas, and with an eye for product design and sleek branding.
For youth today, cannabis is seen as a more wellness-oriented, holistic alternative to other vices. Seventy-eight percent of Gen Z say that society is more accepting of cannabis these days, and Cassandra found nearly 50% of young people surveyed plan to celebrate 4/20, the unofficial "cannabis holiday," this year. The report also found that 50% of Gen Z anticipate that "people into wellness and mental health" will actively consume cannabis products.
Seeing Green also explores that as cannabis grows in acceptance, so too does the importance of branding and design within the category. Millennials and Gen Z alike are accustomed to well-designed products and packaging, and the cannabis category will be no different for them. "I want nice, cool, trendy, funny, accessible, and portable packaging," said Robert, a 26-year-old participant in the report. Young people are also increasingly treating cannabis like any other brand, with 1 in 4 youth 18+ saying they plan to invest in a cannabis brand or stock, and nearly 40% saying they have discussed a specific branded cannabis product.
"Attitudes around cannabis have been shifting significantly with Gen Z, setting them apart from Boomers, Gen X, and even Millennials, which indicates continued growth in the marketplace," said Kathy Sheehan, Senior Vice President, Cassandra. "Cannabis is now increasingly viewed as a means of 'self-care,' which is a dramatic shift from prior generations."
While young people may not have grown up with the stigma of marijuana use, they are aware of the criminalism and racial history and are expecting brands to prioritize cannabis activism. Gen Z overwhelmingly thinks it's crucial to acknowledge the racist history of marijuana – and feel brands must address this as well.
Kate Miller, CEO, and Founder of Miss Grass, agrees. "The report demonstrates how Gen Zs expect brands to address prior generations' inequities related to cannabis. Every brand, every leader, every executive working in the space – it is their responsibility to do what they can to right the wrongs of the war on drugs."
Cassandra, ENGINE's insights and strategy group, studies trendsetting young consumers, revealing the key characteristics and strategies that drive the relationship between influencers and consumers.