With legalization, lot of women are trying cannabis for the first time – or the first time in a long time. It’s important that as an industry we show the public “adult use in action.” Avoiding dialogue and posturing that is not too clinical or too casual, women are eager for considered conversations around navigating consent (not everyone is out of the green closet), etiquette (interactions with others and cannabis) and responsible usage (alternative consumption methods, safe storage, speaking to children).
As cannabis mainstreams, it’s projected that like all other consumer packaged goods, women will be responsible for 80% of purchases. In 2018, women represented 38% of cannabis consumers according to Eaze’s 2018 State of Cannabis Report.
Other notable findings from this report include: 1) Women are more likely to consume for personal care and wellness purposes – namely sleep; 2) The year 2018 will go down as the year cannabis went wellness. My conclusion is women choose wellness and cannabis is wellness. Ergo women choose cannabis.
Van der Pop, the company I founded noted similar findings in this first of its kind Women & Weed Survey conducted in November 2017 to better understand the attitudes, behaviors and beliefs women held regarding cannabis. Our survey results underscored the influence scientific data plays in women’s decision making: 69% of women in their 30s are more interested in cannabis as medicine when the science tells them why they should and how it works. But although three-quarters of women surveyed consume cannabis for a medical purpose, only 11% of the women who consume for medical purposes fully grasp the science behind cannabis’ benefits.
A lack of information can deter or delay women’s cannabis-related decision. And women make decisions very differently than the men who are today’s primary cannabis consumer. Generally speaking, women are motivated by internal factors to adopt cannabis (drink less, sleep more). With a clear end goal, she sets out to actively collect information on how cannabis can be the means to her desired end. During this process she’ll rabbit hole until she determines the best type of product (oil, edible). In-store is where her final decision is made. And under the influence of great customer service she’ll prove loyal.
Men remain loyal to the first product that works until it doesn’t. They make decisions related to cannabis based on external factors: Is there weed? Is there someone to smoke with? Men are singularly driven by completing tasks deemed necessary get to the desired outcome as efficiently as possible, i.e. call someone who already has weed and will smoke me out.
The majority of cannabis consumers are men who do, in fact, make purchasing decisions in this way. “What do you have in that’s the highest THC for the lowest price?” Or, really, “What’s the cheapest option that’ll get me the highest?”
The male-dominated demographic of today’s cannabis consumer has a lot in common with the male-dominated demographic of today’s cannabis corporate boards that define the current state of the industry. Unfortunately, our industry is falling into patterns of gender bias that have plagued tech and finance. The effects are most notably reflected in recruitment, research and, ultimately, revenue.
In 2017, women held 15% of all board seats globally. In that same year, Canada bettered their world partners with women representing 21% of board seats. But Canada was also home to an industry in which women only held 5% of board seats – cannabis.
Within three months of launching Van der Pop in January 2016, the brand narrowed its focus to women because I felt it was the best opportunity to affect change in society – by impacting individuals’ lives which created the best opportunity for the business.
In 2017, 95% of the people at the top ranks in cannabis were men who didn’t even invite women to have a seat at the table much less pivot a brand from stylish stash goods to an educationally driven content and event creator dedicated to women.
We celebrated 2018 as “The Year of the Woman” because the number of female consumers nearly doubled over 2017.
If there were a greater number of women on boards in our industry would we better prepare – with a 2+ year lead – for the needs of women who choose cannabis?
For the past three years, the company I founded, Van der Pop, has educated women who choose to consume or explore cannabis. The basis for all information we share has the goal of intended to help her feel comfortable and confident in decisions related to this plant. While Van der Pop is respected for its style, our brand committed itself to be a trusted source for correct and relevant information about weed specifically with the lives of women in mind. Making us a brand of substance.
For the third consecutive year, market share of women rose 3% – a pace that puts equal gender representation among cannabis consumers by 2022. Which is interesting when taken into context with the signing of California Senate Bill 826 last fall. This bill requires publicly held companies based in California to have a minimum of one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019. From there, women’s representation will have to increase: By the end of July 2021, companies must have at least two women on boards of five members and at least three women on boards with six or more.
Ten years ago, Norway was the first country to mandate 40% representation of women on boards. In that time, five other countries passed legislation with 30% as the minimum for female leadership. This is a threshold that boasts on average a 15% boost in profit compared to similarly positioned companies with no women in leadership roles. In a recent study, a company with highest number of women on board outperformed the company with least women by a margin of 66%. In addition, an analysis of Fortune 500 companies found that organizations with women in top positions were characterized by “innovation intensity” marked by 20% more patents.
It doesn’t take much of a leap to understand why Canada should care that California, home of what is expected to be it largest global competitor to Canada’s cannabis industry – will be at a proven advantage. Dare I say enough of an advantage to erase the head start Canada currently boasts?
Investors and consumers can vote with their dollars. Is an investment sound if – in an already complicated market – those managing an asset aren’t working every advantage? Do you want to pledge loyalty to companies perpetuating the status quo?
Cannabis’ nascency gives credence to its yet-to-be-realized potential. The good news is that there is nascent industry of regulated cannabis that has the potential to be the change. There is an inverse relationship between time and potential. Where there is still time there is still potential. To sit at the table.
(Story contributed by April Pride, founder of Van der Pop)