According the Faith Popcorn, a renowned futurist, CEO of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, as well as and author of the best-seller The Popcorn Report, there’s a huge cultural and marketing disruptor on the horizon. The marijuana industry is just budding now but will soon reinvent the marketplace. Popcorn sees cannabis as the hottest growth industry of the near future and believes that now is the time for companies to make their move. In an article she wrote for Food & Drink International, Popcorn outlines what we can expect for the future of cannabis.
First, she shared these staggering statistics: In 2016, the cannabis industry was worth $6.7 billion dollars, a 30% increase over the year before. In addition, eight more states fully legalized marijuana, bringing the total of weed-friendly states to 29, along with Washington D.C. What’s more, by 2020 the weed market is expected to be worth $32 billion, which is almost the value of the snack food industry, and nearly $50 billion by 2026. Popcorn believes that these projected numbers are only the beginning of what is to be reaped from the cannabis industry. Now is the time for companies to strategize how they can capitalize on this trend.
Popcorn also highlighted the growing acceptance of cannabis culture as another force that should motivate companies to consider how to market this in-demand ingredient. She notes that 61% of American’s are pro-legalization, and 88% agree that medical marijuana should be allowed. The trend is especially popular among young people, with 71% of Millennials believing it should be legalized.
In addition, with rates of anxiety surging, marijuana—with its stress-relieving benefits—can be seen as part of Popcorn’s well-known Cocooning trend (protecting oneself from the harsh realities of the outside world). No other generation is feeling anxiety more than Millennials, and weed is especially appealing to this demographic because it’s natural. Popcorn says this generation is much more likely to choose plants over pills to self-medicate as part of the Being Alive Trend, which expresses the consumers quest for better health and longevity.
Popcorn recognizes that embracing cannabis will be a challenge for many big brands. Despite the fact that many Millennials embrace marijuana, there is still quite a strong national stigma. This is likely the result of the federal government’s stance on the classification of marijuana as a drug, which also inhibits how money can change hands. Still, in states like Colorado and California, Fortune 500 companies have already begun investing in this high-growth business.
Popcorn tells us that we can expect to see marijuana added to foods and beverages and an array of personal-care products in the future. Because of its controversial nature, major brands will have to seek “consumer permission” before they jump head first into the cannabis industry. Many legacy products will not be elastic enough to embrace cannabis without a deep erosion of brand value. In some cases, acquisition will be a better path to market entry than tinkering with established brands.
While some businesses will take the safe route and stay out of this burgeoning marketplace, Popcorn encourages companies to recognize that cannabis is something consumers increasingly want. Marijuana is likely to be one of the most successful industries of the 21st century. Those who don’t get involved in cannabis today will regret it tomorrow.
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