What happens when categories make the shift from illicit to everyday?
What happens when a category moves from “outside” to the mainstream?
Cannabis and online betting have a lot in common–– two categories that have made the shift from mostly illicit (yet popular) activities to a highly regulated, mainstream business.
The transition from illicit to mainstream category is being played out by cannabis and online gambling over the past two decades. California was the first state to legalize cannabis in 1996, and New Jersey approved the first online “casino” in 2013.
Today, 21 states permit online gambling, following behind cannabis, which is legal in 38 states and the District of Columbia as of 2022.
Cannabis consumers exploded from 38 million consumers in 2018, to over 65 million in 2022; now representing one in four of US adults. In the same period, Gaming surged with 15.3 million more sports bettors and 25.5 million more online gamblers. (NGAGE 2.0 Gaming Survey).
A Shared Mindset
At the heart of this surge in demand is a very distinct consumer mindset––cannabis consumers and online gaming participants share a unique perspective and lean-in approach to life.
As cohorts, cannabis consumers and bettors have a significant overlap; more than a third of gamers also consume cannabis and CBD. Cannabis consumers are 30% to 50% more likely to have already gambled in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and are even more predisposed to online play. In fact, cannabis or CBD consumers are nearly 30% more likely to have placed a bet on sports or fantasy sports in the last 12 months.
Cannabis consumers and bettors share a very similar outlook on life; both audiences share an elevated appetite for fun and variety, an appreciation for brands, a tendency for impulse shopping, and a higher risk tolerance than the average American.
They’re also more likely to be influencers who share opinions with their social connections, and contrary to stereotypes, are highly motivated work-a-holics.
Collectively, cannabis and online gamblers have busy lives and big plans––more likely to be starting a business, changing jobs and getting married than the gen pop.
Helping Your Consumers Buy
As marketing arenas, online betting and cannabis categories are driven by strong consumer interest, acceptance and a great deal of unsatisfied demand. In this environment, the role of marketing isn’t to “sell” consumers with traditional advertising, but to help them buy the brands right for them. Successful campaigns are more about making more meaningful connections with the right people––connecting with the people who share the brand’s purpose and values.
Building the Right Relationships Now
The fundamental advantage of this approach versus a “just tell everybody” strategy is getting down to the important business of building your brand franchise vs. selling the category.
Focusing on the right mindset also means building loyalty from the first sales instead of chasing category dabblers and experimenters. The initial surge of consumer interest slows rapidly as the novelty wears off. Harvesting your fair share of early marketplace exuberance quickly turns into a hard-fought battle for customer dollars.
Finding Customers Hiding in Plain Sight
Conventional audience sources will get over-subscribed. Cannabis and CBD marketers will agree that the most obvious category audiences and publishers quickly become oversold and over-priced. There are far more potential customers than those who congregate around conventional category content. Using your data to create seed audiences for semantic/contextual targeting platforms lets you identify high-value prospects that the category is overlooking
Given their shared sensibilities and behavior, cannabis consumers represent a natural look-alike target audience for online and offline gambling and sports betting. The presence of cannabis consumers in a market where online gambling is opening represents an ideal growth audience of like-minded consumers ready to sign up and play.
Success in a Highly Regulated Environment
I’ve heard both cannabis and gaming business leaders say regulation is limiting their ability to succeed—how it’s stacking the odds against growth.
But history tells us a different story. Investing and pharma businesses achieved spectacular success in highly regulated sectors––just ask Chuck Schwab or Pfizer’s Albert Boura.
Fyllo has been helping cannabis marketers succeed in a highly regulated marketplace for years. We’ve learned that success demands we anticipate regulations, build strategies based on limitations, and to use barriers like media blacklists as a marketplace advantage.
Today, Fyllo is bringing all of these capabilities to the gaming industry; helping ambitious brands win a disproportionate share of the rapid growth we’re about to experience.