19 November 2019

Into The Weeds: How Marketers Can Tap Into The Canadian Cannabis Industry

Author: Jim Davis, MiQ cannabis lead

Toronto, November 2019 - In 2018, Canada became the only G20 nation to legalize recreational cannabis use. And the law has become even more relaxed, as cannabis derivatives like edibles, drinks, topical creams and vapes are now legal. 

If you’re in the cannabis business, this is huge. The new products are likely to lead to new buyers among existing users and people who are cannabis-curious. 

The challenge for cannabis marketers is finding this audience, understanding how they behave and then running campaigns to reach them, influence them, and convert them into buyers. 

To help in this task, we put together a comprehensive report - Blazing A Trail: The Future Of Cannabis Marketing In Canada. You can download the full study below, but here are some topline insights into what the Canadian cannabis audience looks like and how you can reach them.


Know your audience

For starters, there are some notable points at a broad demographic. For instance, since legalization the number of men using cannabis in some form has increased 18%, but among women has stayed fairly flat. 

There’s also value in looking at age. So, while younger consumers have shown the greatest online search interest in cannabis products, it’s older consumers who have had the largest increase in actually buying cannabis legally. This suggests younger users are still buying from their illegal sources, despite the legal option being available. 

But, as ever, the most valuable insights don’t come from broad brushstrokes. The devil is in the detail. Looking at data from a sample of more than 550,000 consumers visiting cannabis sites, we identified three distinct audiences you need to consider. 

Active users 

34% of the total audience are active users. They tend to be over the age of 35 with a moderate household income ($40 to $75K CAD on average), and are more likely to live in urban areas. They’ve been consuming cannabis for some time and have a pretty clear idea of what they are looking for. Their site activity and searching suggests an advanced understanding of the different forms and varieties of cannabis and they tend to be more interested in Sativa derivatives with higher THC content (though that doesn’t mean they’re closed to trying new things). A majority of their searches (62%) are carried out on phones. 


This group is a mix of existing consumers who love to experiment with different types of cannabis and new potential consumers who are dipping their toes in the water to find out what they like. They tend to be a younger group than the active users. 43% are between the ages of 18 and 34, and most are either still pursuing their education or employed in an entry-level position. In their spare time they tend to prefer indoor activities like watching TV or playing videogames.   

Their online research suggests they’re uncertain about the different kinds of cannabis (which presents a great opportunity for marketers to teach them). Most of the cannabis content they seek out is informational and deals with the health implications and effects of the different variants. Hybrids and Indica derivatives are fairly popular amongst this audience. They’re equally likely to browse and search on a PC/laptop or mobile device.


This group isn't using cannabis regularly, if at all, but they’re curious and like to keep tabs on new developments around cannabis offerings. Most of the cannabis content they consume is either news articles around legalisation or journals about the health effects of cannabis. These consumers are split evenly among different age groups and tend to be female. They also tend to gravitate to news content generally, and are heavily invested in health and lifestyle-related content.


Reaching the right people

Cannabis marketers need to understand the three different audience groups and have strategies for reaching each of them, grabbing their attention, giving them the kind of content they’re looking for, and turning them into buyers.

Of course, segmentation is only part of the puzzle. There’s the tricky business of finding out how your audience behaves in the real world, then combining it with your digital knowledge to get the full story. And it’s a landscape that’s constantly changing, both in terms of the kinds of cannabis products available and the rules and regulations around selling and marketing cannabis. 

MiQ is an independent programmatic media activation company. We have the people and technology to help businesses win. It is our vision to reimagine the value of marketing by connecting data and discovering insight to drive business outcomes. For more information on how to activate your cannabis campaign or to learn more, contact Jim Davis:

Get The Whitepaper Now
Download our full report to get a deeper look at the future of Cannabis Marketing in Canada

More about Jim:

Jim Davis is a media and marketing leader with an extensive background in the advertising and technology industry. He is widely recognized for his expertise and passion, regularly speaking at Canadian events on transformational trends and emerging technologies.

As cannabis industry lead, Jim oversees key relationships with a number of strategic partners, driving the design and development of MiQ’s proprietary analytics platforms and media solutions.  Jim has 20 years of digital media experience in the Canadian market, previously working at companies such as; Yahoo Canada, Snap Inc. and Torstar Digital.