What Cannabis Brand Leaders Should Know About the Evolving Vape Culture

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What do you think of when you think about vapes? Do the words “wellness” and “high-design” come to mind? What about “self-care” or “innovation”?

Vape culture has long carried a stigma, resulting in societal pressure to keep this habit hidden and the misconception of vaping as an inferior way to experience the benefits of cannabis and CBD. However, innovation in vaping technology has unleashed options for everyone from the cannabis-curious to the connoisseur, with the potential to upend the negative connotations around cannabis vaping.

Challenging the Vaper Stereotype: A Perceptual Shift

Gone are the days of associating vaping with stoners or closet smokers gathering on worn-out couches in the back of vape shops. We are now seeing quite the opposite, as vaping marries innovation and rebellion, eschewing the one-sided picture of who vapes cannabis and why. It’s a culture of bent rules and expanded boundaries, brought on by a collective of people demanding new ways to live life and advance wellness on their own terms. It’s not something to hide, but rather to celebrate and make one’s own.

​​For some, vaping can provide a premium, one-of-a-kind experience that elevates social settings. For others, it’s less about the ritual of relaxation or communal enjoyment and more about the immediacy of effects. Some vapes are works of art that can sit on shelves, while others are mini marvels of cannabis technology that can fit in your pocket.

From medical to high-design to on-the-go, cannabis vaping is more than an alternative to smoking. From my perspective, cannabis vaping is for people from all walks of life, many of whom are looking for new ways to consume cannabis. Suddenly, vaping has the potential to be an integral component of one’s daily self-care routine — quite a shift from that worn-out, couch-sitting stereotype.

A Potential Path to Mood Management

Core to the shift in use and perception is the proposition of controlling one’s mood with cannabis. This idea, which we at Canopy are calling mood management, stems from the realization that certain moments during a person’s day could be enhanced by the tailored use of cannabinoid-based products.

Advancements in the form, feeling and function of vapes are helping make the future of mood management a reality. These innovations include new cannabis-based formulas that can be customized to deliver specific effects and feelings, as well as manufacturing upgrades, such as improvements in battery life and charging times, allowing vapes to be an on-the-go tool.

There has been immense progress with portable vapes, making them more aesthetically pleasing, convenient and durable. When you then factor in that vaping is one of the fastest delivery methods for cannabinoids like THC and CBD, vapes are no longer on the fringe, but can be a unique tool for those consumers looking to better manage how they feel.

The emergence of a new vape consumer spells potential for the cannabis industry. Vaping further accelerates the shift from cannabis use as an at-home, to-be-hidden activity to something that can seamlessly fit into one’s daily life. CBD vapes are also helping ease the stigma for the category — allowing vapes to be a potential symbol of mindfulness versus a hallmark of unhealthy habits.

I believe this is the opportunity for brands — to create products and innovations that not only further this evolution but create space in it for consumers of all lifestyles. But for consumers to believe in the potential, brands must authentically connect products to the everyday realities of the modern consumer with diverse needs.

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Exploring Solutions to Meet Consumer Needs

One of the most exciting trends in vaping is the emergence of CBD vapes, as it has extended the benefits of vaporizers beyond THC to a whole new audience: people who want to take the edge off without psychoactive effects. This, as a result, has the potential to advance the culture around cannabis and vaping.

Consumers are looking for options based on their needs or preferences. Brands should look for ways to empower consumers to calibrate how they feel with easy-to-carry tools that support them at a moment’s notice. To make vaping a seamless experience in daily self-care rituals should be a top goal for cannabis brands. For example, at Canopy, we recently released custom-tailored CBD vape pods to promote focus, relaxation or sleep.

The face of vaping won’t just be someone blowing plumes of vapor — it could be the fabulous host of a dinner party looking to create a fun, elevated experience for guests. It could be the busy parent relaxing with friends without a bottle of wine, or the weekend warrior seeking a new way to enjoy cannabis. Cannabis vaping culture will likely be shaped by anyone looking to practice mood management. That is driving an exciting culture shift.

So, how do brands reflect this exciting culture shift in a way that resonates with everyone from the yogi to the multi-hyphenated executive to the busy grandparent? By being obsessed with understanding the consumer and their needs.

This requires an intense, continual focus on research and consumer insights. For example, consumer needs around stress management likely look different today than they did pre-pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, people had time to transition through the different parts of their day. There was the morning and evening commute to separate work from home, and lunch and coffee breaks to add moments of reprieve and socialization during the day. This understanding is one of the insights underpinning the development of our first-ever CBD vape. It’s the perpetual pursuit of insights around consumer experiences and needs that will uncover the product innovations.

As the world around us continues to shift, people are focusing on self-care, in small and big ways. Cannabis and CBD in particular have a powerful role to play as people redefine what this means. In today’s world, vaping isn’t about a new type of smoke break, it’s about helping people take a self-care break.

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