Smoke pot, drink pop? A new study for the Cannabis Freakonomics series, conducted by Consumer Research Around Cannabis and Green Market Report, looked at cannabis consumers’ favorite soda brands. Coca Cola took first place.
The researchers analyzed a sample size of 27,503 responses throughout 25 markets. More than 32 percent of consumers said they prefer Coca Cola over any other brand. Pepsi came in not far behind at 23.8 percent, followed by Dr. Pepper at 13 percent, Mountain Dew at 12 percent, and Sprite at 11 percent.
“Coca Cola is perhaps the most well-known brand in the world and they have tremendous distribution,” says Jeff Stein, VP of Sales for Consumer Research Around Cannabis. “As beverage companies add cannabis consumer research to their arsenal for branding and marketing, Coke may not always be number one. It’s not too different from what we saw with McDonald’s and fast food.”
Debra Borchardt, CEO of Green Market Report, suggests that Coke may have won out over Pepsi because it’s sold at McDonald’s, which another Freakonomics study found was the number one fast food choice among cannabis consumers.
Following the above top five soda brands were Red Bull, Diet Coke, 7-Up, Monster, and Fanta. “The choice of Red Bull of diet drinks may be because of the company’s sport sponsorships,” says Borchardt. “Red Bull backs athletes from sports like BMX racing, snowboarding, surfing, and skateboarding. Many of these sports are less formal than traditional sports and some of the athletes are open about their cannabis consumption.”
This could be good news for soda brands that are struggling to build revenue as non-soda brands are offering healthier drinks, suggests Cynthia Salarzadeh, co-founder of Green Market Report.
“Up till now, beverage companies have not considered the consumer characteristics of cannabis users in their branding and marketing. As this consumer group becomes more ‘credible’ and legality moves forward they will — and that is when we will see a change in the rankings,” says Stein tells Jane Street. “The cannabis industry is changing almost on a daily basis and users want more healthy ways to utilize — moving away from smoking. These users are sure to be better educated, have higher incomes, better jobs, and will make healthier choices.”
Soda consumption is continuing to fall throughout the United States, as consumers are more often considering their health in buying choices. Coca Cola, for instance, is trying to branch out of being just a soft drink company. Instead, Coke aims to become a “total beverage company,” offering brands like Odwalla juice, Smartwater, and Honest Tea. However, the bulk of the company’s revenue still comes from Coca Cola.
“Consumers are looking for products that are more natural,” says James Quincey, CEO of Coca Cola. “We’ve begun our journey toward that goal.”
Meanwhile, as more and more states legalize cannabis, and more people integrate the plant into their lifestyles — forcing them to consider the other plants, foods, and substances they put into their bodies — weed’s developing image as a “wellness product” may inspire people to become more health-conscious overall.