Many try to equate alcohol and cannabis, but when it comes to marketing, cannabis consumers can be harder to get a beat on. For one thing, alcohol tends to come in just one form: liquid. Cannabis, however, is more akin to an ingredient. It can be added or infused to virtually anything.
Because of its versatility, cannabis consumers have a wide variety of ways that they can use to consume it. We’ve broken down customer baskets data from 2014 through 2019 in Colorado and Washington to see how consumers tastes changed on these albeit “mature” cannabis markets.
Flower is still the most popular form of cannabis but has been losing market share to all the other categories coming onto the market. People are interested in using cannabis in a way that fits a healthy lifestyle, which may not involve smoking.
Flower has seen its role diminished down to 49% of baskets, while Concentrates and Vapor Pens have made gains. However, Flower continues to be king in total sales in 2019.
Pre-Roll purchases penetration are up to 27% in 2019 from 3% in 2014. The appeal of this easy access smokable flower cannot be denied. It is a familiar form and its convenience is winning at the retail floor.
Concentrates & Vape Pens
Interest in Concentrates increased after 2014 and has been hovering around an average of 15.4% basket penetration ever since. The peak for concentrates was in 2017, but in 2019 it was back down to 2016 numbers. Concentrate sales grew at first, perhaps because it was an alternative to smoking. They’ve been losing basket penetration recently to other up and coming categories, and some might say it has gotten a bit of a backslash for the flavor profile it carries.
Vapor Pens is the second largest “trip driver” category after Flower. This growing category is more discreet than Flower or Pre-Rolls. Its convenience is undeniable. It’s worth noting that Millennials -- who hold the number one cannabis purchasing spot among the other customers’ age brackets-- are partial to vaping.
Basket penetration for edibles has steadily declined in Washington and Colorado. In 2014, 15% of baskets contained an edible. This is in sharp contrast with the 9% we are seeing in 2019. It seems that edibles are now most popular when offered on discount as an add-on product to an existing Flower order.
As the industry grows, brands are bringing to market innovative ways for people can consume cannabis. We’ll be watching how the sales trends shift in this changing landscape.