If marijuana was legal across the United States, beer sales would lose more than $2 billion in retail, according to a study released this month by Cannabiz Consumer Group (C2G), a research firm that tracks cannabis consumer trends.
The report also finds that 27 percent of today’s beer drinkers have already have substituted cannabis for beer, or would substitute their beer retail purchases with cannabis in the future if legal.
According to the study, legal cannabis will take away more than 7 percent of beer revenues.
This is not the first report suggesting marijuana legalization is a threat to the beer business. Last December, another research firm — Cowen & Company — analyzed beer sales in Colorado, Oregon and Washington — states where both recreational marijuana is legal and the craft beer is popular. In those three states, beer sales have “collectively underperformed” over the last two years.
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“In adult-use cannabis markets, there are clear signs that cannabis is weighing on beer category trends,” according to Vivien Azer, managing director and senior research analyst for Cowen and Company. Azer also noted that “mainstream beers are the biggest drag, while craft is also slowing. Imports look the most immune.”
The Cannabiz Consumer Group also finds that other segments of the alcohol industry — including wine and spirits and on-premise sales — are also being impacted by cannabis legalization.
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Last year, there were 24.6 million legal cannabis consumers in the United States, according to the C2G report. The research suggests “that legal cannabis penetration will settle at a level comparable to that of beer and wine and that a fully mature market would create a new $50 billion industry.”
According to Rich Maturo, chief innovation officer at C2G”
“Consumers use cannabis to satisfy various social, medical and experiential need states. By understanding these needs, those at risk of losing sales to cannabis can try to offset some of the losses by understanding and speaking to a consumer’s needs. … Those companies that are gathering insights on cannabis and have the foresight to see it as presenting an opportunity in addition to a risk will fare much better than those who strictly take a defensive position.”