Published September 14, 2022

Cannabis consumption across the country varies by province.  Let’s move from West to East to investigate the importance of each province.

Despite the assumption of laid-back environmentalists, cannabis consumption in British Columbia is underdeveloped compared to the population size.  The Prairies and Ontario are developed in consumption, with Ontario representing a key province with over 30% of market share.  Quebec represents another important province to win, representing nearly as much market share as Ontario despite being a fraction of the population.  Finally, while New Brunswick, Prince Edward County and Newfoundland & Labrador are developed markets, the east coast remains a small portion of the industry.

Estimated proportion of national spend on cannabis by province (all channels)

Cannatrack, n=14,925 Canadians, January 2022 to July 2022, capturing Total Market (Legal & Illegal)

In addition to the category market share of each province, brands need to understand the unique purchase drivers and decision making involved for each cannabis consumer across the country.  Highlighted below are nuances of two key provinces to consider for future growth.

British Columbia (11% of Total Cannabis Market, 14% of Legal Population)

British Columbia is underdeveloped in cannabis consumption compared to its population size.  Consumers in this province spend the second least annually on cannabis across the country, followed by Nova Scotia, and are more likely to be light consumers of cannabis.  BC’s higher Asian population is a contributor to this trend as this ethnicity is much less likely to consume cannabis

BC presents unique challenges of a local competitive set and bulk purchasing patterns.  More than any other province, BC is home to many local brands that consumers are loyal to.  Regional brands such as Whistler Cannabis, Flowr and Pure Sunfarms jump to the top of awareness in BC, adding a challenging layer for National brands to make an impact.  Additionally, despite similar session consumption amount, BC consumers buy in bulk and are more likely to purchase larger quantities of cannabis.  Of last purchases, in BC nearly 40% were of 10+ grams compared to 32% being of that quantity Nationally.  Buying in bulk means fewer trips to the store and therefore added pressure to brands to make an impact on their consumers.

Quebec (31% of Total Cannabis Market, 22% of Legal Population)

Unique to this province, since legalization Quebec has established additional controls for cannabis consumption.  These controls include that cannabis can only be legally purchased through the SQDC (Société Québécoise du Cannabis) and that it cannot be consumed in public.  Despite these limitations, Quebec consumers spend the most on cannabis across regions, averaging an estimated $2727 on cannabis annually (vs the National average of $1212).  This is driven by a larger portion of heavy consumers (consuming cannabis at least once a week), however not necessarily daily consumers.  Instead, Quebec consumers are enjoying cannabis to have a good time.  Additional top reasons for consumption in Quebec are to enjoy the feeling of being high and because it was offered.  Unlike the rest of the country that more often consumes cannabis to relax, help sleep or reduce anxiety, Quebec consumers consume cannabis to enjoy the high.  This correlates to many fundamental principles in Quebec culture that encourages a more relaxed way of life.  To name a few, Quebecois residents enjoy high quality wine, cheese and meats, consume alcohol at an earlier age and access it more readily available, and are more likely to smoke tobacco vs the National average.  The Quebec culture as a case study confirms the understanding that there is a direct correlation to the enjoyment of all substances and cannabis.

Growing Across Canada

Each province has unique differences that need to be understood to best capture consumers in that market.  There are several ways that the category and brands can grow across the country; Contact us to find out more about available Cannatrack data, custom media segments and custom research projects to better understand how to win in your key provinces.