The U.S. alcohol trade hasn’t had any real competition for more than eight decades, which has given it a clear path to become the mega $223 billion industry that it is today. But now that marijuana is legal in more parts of the country, booze slingers are starting to notice a slip in profits.
The situation is expected to spiral into darker territory once the cannabis plant is dragged out of the pits of federal prohibition once and for all. Some experts say this development is only around three years away. The consensus is if alcohol producers do not find a way to reconnect with the consumer, they stand to lose out big time the second marijuana goes legal in all 50 states.
The latest study from RaboResearch shows that “women and older, wealthier individuals” are fully prepared to put down the bottle and give legal marijuana a shot once the federal government removes it from outlaw status.
The firm says that while this part of the population may be apprehensive about dabbling in the doobie at the state level, especially considering some of the risks that are still involved with respect to employment and other factors, all of those concerns will likely go up in smoke once Uncle Sam finally embraces the herb.
In fact, we could see a situation where this demographic (people with an income over $50K per year) provides the cannabis industry with the largest increase in patronage.
There is another snag the alcohol industry will be forced to contend with once legal marijuana is a legitimate part of the American way: figuring out how to sell high calorie booze to the health conscious consumer.
While younger folks typically ignore the fact that booze consumption can pack on the pounds, people in their 40’s and beyond are often reminded of it daily. Because of this, the nation has experienced a recent uptick in the trend of low-calorie beer. Alcohol manufacturers are doing everything they can to stock the shelves with products for those consumers trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
But marijuana already has this going for it. The herb provides a gluten-free, no calorie high that does not tax the liver, kidneys or eat away at the brain. By all accounts, pot is already set up to become the alternative for those consumers who want the buzz without the bulge.
Yet it is going to take some work on the part of the cannabis industry to drive this concept home, according to researchers.
“The success of marijuana’s appeal to the health-conscious consumer, however, is based on the assumption that marijuana companies will market their brands as healthy, ‘lifestyle’ products, highlighting marijuana’s health-related advantages over alcohol,” the report reads.
More and more, the alcohol industry understands that it is going to be forced to split profits with cannabis sellers. Rather than resist the inevitable, some of these companies are developing cannabis products of their own.
Constellation Brands, the third largest brewer in the world, is in Canada right now working to give life to a line of THC-infused beverages. In the states, the man responsible for creating Blue Moon for the Coors Brewing Company is on the verge of launching a non-alcoholic beer that comes packed with a THC punch. In other parts of the U.S. wine makers are doing much of the same.
In fact, cannabis-infused beverages are considered the next major trend, according to the Cannabiz Consumer Group. It is a sector that stands to rake in annual revenues of around $15 billion. The health conscious consumer, along with those with an aversion to smoking marijuana will be the ones that make this happen.
It stands to reason that if major alcohol outfits are not presently scheming up ways to counteract the legal cannabis presence, they could take a substantial hit in the next few years. Federal lawmakers, like U.S Representative Earl Blumenauer, predict that the discussion surrounding nationwide marijuana legalization will take a drastic turn following the upcoming election.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the next Congress will accelerate our progress to reform cannabis laws on the national level,” he said. “Because of the work of advocates and the strong support of voters, progress is inevitable – and the 2018 election will prove it.”
A recent piece from Washington Post journalist Paul Waldman suggests that 2021 is the year this will all go down.