This year, the “Millennial” generation—that’s defined as the population of people between the ages of 18 and 34—is projected to overtake the Baby Boomers in terms of size. This means that, according to the US Census Bureau’s population projections, Millennial’s are the nation’s largest living generation.
Specifically, Millennials will number 75.3 million this year, and Boomers, at 74.9 million will be surpassed.
But what on earth has this got to do with the cannabis industry?
Everything: Baby Boomers—those are people between the ages of 51 and 69, who are classed as the post World War II births—are a generation of consumers who have been brought up with more conservative beliefs when it comes to the cannabis plant. Now, as professor barney Warf told me in an interview this week, the reasons behind the illegal status of cannabis use and possession are not based on any good scientific rational, but regardless, generations of people who have been brought up to believe that marijuana is the devil weed are sticklers when it comes to change.
Not all, there is of course the realization that a large number of medical marijuana consumers are this older generation, but those tend to be the minority. On the whole, it is the generation of people who have been brainwashed into thinking that cannabis is a gateway into a life of drug addiction (another idea which has little scientific grounding or evidence) that make up what used to be the largest generation.
This is important, because demand is governed by consumers, and the rise of the Millennial generation means that the consumer base is changing. Millennial’s are younger, they are not as fearful of cannabis as previous generations, and they are more skeptical when it comes to believing claims when they are not given solid and sound scientific reasoning as back up.
This population shift, along with the changing legislation surrounding cannabis use will speed up the rate of change in regards to consumer behavior. Millennials have been touted as the most educated generation (34 percent have a bachelor’s degree), they delay marriage and having children in preference for finding more time for themselves (Pew Research Center report): they have more time to travel.
Another Millennial fact: they are the most social population, and they prefer to socialize while they are consuming; they like to shop, dine and travel. It is this social behavior that has huge implications for people offering services such as hospitality. These are customers looking for an experience, and they love adventure, which means that the travel and tourism industry is looking bright right now.
As a growing number of US states look set to legalize cannabis, the cannabis tourism industry will stand out for this growing generation of consumers who are constantly on the look out for changing scenery and new experiences. What is more about Millennials, is that they are loyal customers; when they find a service that they like they stick with it, and this comes down to a passion for good values in the companies that they do business with. According to research from Barkley, more than 50 percent of Millennials make an effort to do business with companies that support causes, and they put a premium on sound business ethics.
The rise of the Millennial is a good thing for tourism, and property owners and hosts in the industry should be looking at cannabis and what it means to this growing generation of consumer.
Opinion By Tabitha Farrar