Will Generation X Be Forgotten By the Cannabis Market?

The January 2019 Eaze report on cannabis and CBD (cannabidiol) use contained several interesting generational trends and highlights.

Millennials are currently driving the market with the average user age being 31 years old. They’re also more likely to invest in cannabis stocks. Baby Boomers spend more per month than any other generation and are one of the fastest-growing user groups. Lastly, Generation Z is anticipated to be one of the most significant users due to their open attitudes about marijuana, despite most being underage currently.

But what about Generation X?

The Eaze report does show that Generation X uses cannabis and CBD. As a generation, however, they don’t stand out on any of the data categories. Generation X’s cannabis and CBD use sits in the middle, or lower, overall when exploring buying and using habits as compared to other generations.

Although Generation X is often ignored, they’re a financial powerhouse with 2.4 trillion in spending power, despite only representing about 20 percent of the population.

How can cannabis and CBD companies reach this generation? What is it about Generation X that has kept them from embracing cannabis as much as other generations?

Who is Generation X?

Generation X is sandwiched between two large generations—Baby Boomers and Millennials. Born between 1965 and 1980, they’re often overlooked.

This isn’t new to this generation, and it doesn’t stop them. Generation X is known as the “latchkey” generation (or the forgotten generation) since many would come home from school to an empty house. As a generation, they had less time with parents than prior generations. The result was a cohort that became self-reliant and independent.

They also grew up in a time where computer technology began to explode. So while this generation is still likely to read newspapers and watch TV, they also have embraced social media and computer technology.

Now in their 40s to mid-50s, this generation is pulled between helping Baby Boomer parents and supporting their Millennial and Generation Z children.

What Is Their View on Legalizing Marijuana?

Despite growing up in the ‘Just Say No’ era, about 63 percent of Generation X supports legalizing marijuana.

It’s not clear why the majority of this generation supports legalization. However, one reason may be marijuana’s potential medical uses. The 2019 poll by Quinnipiac University found that 93 percent of Americans across generations support using marijuana when prescribed by a doctor.

Despite growing up with the ‘Just Say No’ campaign, this message doesn’t appear to be impacting Generation X’s views on marijuana or usage.

What Prevents Generation X From Using Cannabis and CBD?

There hasn’t been specific research exploring Generation X’s views and potential barriers to using cannabis and CBD. Despite this, there are some possible contributing factors given what is known about this generation.

Being the Sandwich Generation impacts their personal spending habits.

As Generation X is faced with having to support aging parents and their children, this appears to be impacting their personal spending. This generation wants value and looks for good deals.

This group is faced with a lot of financial responsibilities and is the caretaker to many in other generations. This reality may leave them with less to spend on themselves and makes them less likely to buy products for recreation—especially if perceived as pricey.

This cohort uses social media differently than other groups.

Generation X has embraced social media, with about 77.5 percent using some form of social media. According to eMarketer.com, 88 percent uses Facebook, 45.5 percent uses Instagram, and only a small percent use Twitter (24.5%) and Snapchat (19.1%).

That said, this cohort primarily uses social media as a way to stay connected to friends and family—not to learn about products. A 2018 survey by Morning Consult found 56 percent of Generation X believed there were too many paid ads on social media.

This group also is concerned about online privacy, especially when faced with adopting new platforms. One in three report distrusting social media, and almost 27 percent report not wanting to share personal information with brands. This mentality can be a barrier for marketers.

That said, Generation X accounts for over 1.5 billion views every day on YouTube. They also tend to share videos, especially to Facebook.

This group is often overlooked.

Generation X is not referred to as the Forgotten Generation without reason. This cohort isn’t as large as the Baby Boomers or Millennials, and in general, they haven’t been as vocal.

This acceptance of being forgotten may be due to that latchkey kid mentality, where they learned to rely on themselves and have pride in accomplishing tasks on their own.

But marketers may be missing out on what this generation can do. Not only are they financially positioned to buy, but they are also uniquely linked to the generations around them. As those generations’ caretakers, Generation X understands the needs of Baby Boomers and Millennials. This role can give them a unique perspective where they’re not only making purchasing decisions based on their needs, but also for those they help support.

This position could play a role in the cannabis and CBD market, particularly since more people are turning to CBD and legal marijuana for health concerns.

What Are the Reasons and Ways Generation X Currently Use Cannabis and CBD?

A review of opinions expressed about CBD on social media revealed that Generation X had the fewest total posts about CBD. That said, people who did post reported positive views and opinions about it. This finding suggests that Generation X may be shifting their openness toward purchasing and using cannabis products for themselves.

Some questions about using CBD specifically for this group include:

* questions on whether CBD is legal,

* concerns on whether CBD contains THC.

This group consists mainly of parents, and they don’t want to risk being perceived as taking drugs. However, they appear open to the idea of using these products to help with health and wellness issues if it’s not seen as a recreational drug.

Overall, customers across all generations preferred easy-to-use products that didn’t require paraphernalia. This preference makes sense given so many first time consumers.

Many Generation X users are turning to CBD or cannabis to help with health concerns like joint pain or managing stress. Additionally, consumers are also turning to cannabis to try and reduce unhealthy habits. Approximately 58 percent of Generation X consumers used cannabis to reduce their alcohol use, and 17 percent used these products to help reduce cigarette smoking.

There is limited data indicating this generation’s preferred method for using cannabis and CBD. That said, popular forms across generations include edibles, especially gummies, vapes, and easy-to-use products.

How Can Cannabis Marketers Reach This Generation?

With Generation X in between two vocal and large generations, it’s understandable why they get overlooked. However, this group could be an important consumer for cannabis and CBD companies if they can reach them.

1. Target information that will appeal to Generation X on the social media platforms they use.

Speak to directly to this generation’s concerns and let them get to know your brand. While this takes more effort upfront, this cohort is known for its brand loyalty so it can pay off in the long run.

Capitalize on their use of platforms like YouTube and Facebook, but be careful about how you’re advertising to them. Remember, this is the generation that feels social media has too many paid ads. Highlight how the product can help them, and they’re more likely to engage.

2. Focus on the potential health and wellness benefits.

Currently, Generation X users are more likely to use CBD for health or wellness reasons. As they continue to age, finding ways to manage their health will become increasingly important. CBD and cannabis companies may make more traction if they focus more on how CBD and medical marijuana can help with wellness, rather than trying to market as a recreational drug.

3. Focus on their unique position as a caretaker of two generations at the same time.

While some of this cohort may not be seeking alternative health and wellness strategies for themselves, they may be looking at ways to help their loved ones. This will become increasingly useful with continued research on the benefits of these products. Generation X is a practical group—research and facts can go a long way in showing them

Taking Notice of The Forgotten Generation

Generation X may not be the largest or most outspoken generation, but they are a powerful consumer force. While many take pride at being overlooked, this group does respond well when a company takes the time to reach out to them.

With the growing health and wellness appeal of CBD and medical marijuana, focusing on this group’s specific concerns and needs may help increase their understanding of these products and their use.

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