Cannabusiness: Will Marketers Reach Out to Pot-Loving Baby Boomers?

Baby Boomers—those born between the end of World War II and 1964—like their weed. Cannabis use among the age group is both prodigious and rising, faster than in any other demographic.

According to a recent study by the research firm IBISWorld, by the end of this year more than 110.9 Americans over 50 years old will partake of the herb; in five years time, that number is expected to be jacked up another 7 percent.

Why this should be is somewhat of a mystery. Anecdotally, we hear that many erstwhile users are returning to pot, now that legalization is underway, or on the way, in a number of states. Further, ageing boomers, because they are ageing, are prime candidates to utilize the medical applications of the plant.

Oddly enough, cannabusinesses do not seem to be marketing their products with older users in mind, at least not on the recreational side.

“I honestly believe that’s the missing niche,” says Jeff Amsler, an internet marketing consultant in Denver. “They’re not really reaching out to the baby boomers as much as they ought to.”

One way to reach out might be in reassuring consumers that the product is not paralyzingly potent. “Baby boomers are afraid [today’s weed] is too powerful,” says Amsler. “In Colorado it’s as if the whole industry is striving to boast that they have the strongest shit on the block. The boomers frankly don’t want to be that high.” (This fear was ridiculously realized by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd (age 63), who last year documented her scary experience with edibles in the paper of record. It didn’t go well.)

Though recreational weed marketers have not yet figured out how to target consumers of a certain age, purveyors of medical marijuana are on the case. This makes sense, since growing old usually involves aches and pains that do not afflict more youthful bodies.

“A lot of this is about breaking stereotypes,” says Becky DeKeuster, co-founder of Wellness Connection of Maine, which operates four of the eight dispensaries in the state. Older people don’t want to be labeled “stoners,” but they do seek guidance. “It’s important to have somebody walk them through, and be able to assess strains and doses.”

DeKeuster is ever-conscious about keeping dispensaries user-friendly for the long in the tooth. A good thing too, as the median age in Maine, 43.9, is the oldest in the country. Being mindful of the facilities, ganja products and even the promotional materials makes for a welcoming atmosphere for graying customers.

Paradoxically, the aged are a market for medical herb because they are living longer and healthier lives. Wellness Connection treats many patients for ailments resulting from their active lifestyles, like say, skiing injuries.

“We’re learning a lot from our members,” says DeKeuster. “We have folks in their 70’s saying, ‘My goodness I never thought I’d be blazing trails at my age.’”

Blaze on, folks.

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