Are Women an Overlooked Cannabis Market Segment?

Kay Tamillow

As cannabis moves from the shadows and into the rec and medical markets, some stereotypes about cannabis culture are being shed. For starters, it’s not just about smoking: Brightfield Group has already discussed how edibles and concentrates sales are growing at impressive rates, while sales of traditional flower are beginning to stagnate in some markets. Now we are uncovering some new insights about the dominant user demographic of some marijuana products, and they are not the stereotypical young male many might think of.

Female Cannabis Consumers

Brightfield Group and HelloMD conducted an in-depth cannabis consumer survey (2017) in which we found that women were the leading demographic for CBD-dominant products, making up 58% of all users surveyed in this category.  While their numbers weren’t as high in the THC-dominant category, they still made up 48% of users.

Given their higher numbers in CBD-dominant products, which are known for their therapeutic qualities, it is quite likely that many women are new customers who are using cannabis predominantly for health reasons, and aren’t as interested in the “high” effect. After all, there are many more reasons to use cannabis than just the psychoactive component: in the same HelloMD survey, Brightfield uncovered that the top five conditions treated with cannabis among those surveyed were anxiety, insomnia, joint pain and inflammation, depression, and migraines, and respondents were most likely to use micro-dosing (<10mg THC/CBD) to treat these conditions.

Taking a closer look at these ailments, it’s indeed surprising women aren’t turning to cannabinoids in even greater numbers: it turns out women are much more likely to suffer from all of these conditions than men are. One study on prevalence among women for autoimmune diseases (which include lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which result in joint pain and inflammation) went as far as to say that “being female confers a greater risk of developing these diseases than any single genetic or environmental risk factor discovered to date.”

Research surrounding the role of sex in pain, inflammation, and mental health is developing rapidly, but it’s still not clear why women are more prone to suffer from these diseases. Regardless, this is a key insight for CBD-dominant product manufacturers: women are not only an untapped potential consumer base, they may be the dominant one.


Cannabis Brands Targeting Women

Some cannabis companies are catching on to the potential of this market, such as Yummi Karma, a company in California that makes edibles designed by and for women. One of their flagship products is a tincture line to “promote uterine health, mood elevation, and all the symptoms that come from Aunt Flo.” The company’s segmenting strategy seems to be working: Yummi Karma is among the top 10 brands for tinctures in the state, per Brightfield Group data.

Another company picking up on this trend is Kiva Confections, who is right behind Cheeba Chews for the largest market share of edibles in California, according to data collected by Brightfield Group. The company’s consumer base happens to be more than 70% female and prefers low-dose options for consumption.

As the cannabis market continues to expand, brands would be wise to think hard about how they are positioning their product—and whether women’s preferences are being seriously considered.


Last updated: August 2017