Exploring cannabis retail in British Columbia with The Higher Path

Feb 16, 2022

The British Columbia cannabis market presents ample opportunity for cannabis retailers and operators within the space. Reaching over $550 million in cannabis sales in 2021, the market clearly shows upward growth. With that being said, British Columbia presents unique challenges for both retailers and brands to succeed. Below, we first take a look at British Columbia sales trends over the past year. From there, we’ll introduce you to a leading retailer in the market - The Higher Path - to highlight how retailers can leverage data to successfully navigate some of the marketing challenges that BC retailers have to face. Let’s dig in!

Cannabis sales growth in British Columbia

First, let’s take a look at where British Columbia stands among other Canadian provinces. In this chart, we look at total cannabis sales in 2021 for Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. British Columbia totaled just over $550 million in sales in 2021. While this is impressive, it’s clear that Ontario sales dominated the Canadian cannabis industry. In Ontario, cannabis sales reached just under $1.5 billion, which is more than double the amount of British Columbia.

Focusing on British Columbia, let’s see how sales have grown throughout 2021. The orange line on this graph represents monthly sales while the red bars indicates cumulative sales throughout 2021. British Columbia started 2021 with $40.4 million in sales during January and grew 31% to $52.7 million in December. With cumulative annual sales just shy of $552 million, is this sales growth something unique to British Columbia, or are other Canadian provinces seeing similar success?

In this graph, we compare month over month growth in British Columbia with other provinces to see how cannabis sales growth rates compare. There were two months in 2021, May and July, that British Columbia demonstrated the most month over month growth out of the other provinces. Throughout 2021, cannabis sales in British Columbia grew 3% on average month over month. Ontario grew faster in 2021, with an average monthly increase of 5.9%.

In this graph, we compare month over month growth in British Columbia with other provinces to see how cannabis sales growth rates compare. There were two months in 2021, May and July, that British Columbia demonstrated the most month over month growth out of the other provinces. Throughout 2021, cannabis sales in British Columbia grew 3% on average month over month. Ontario grew faster in 2021, with an average monthly increase of 5.9%.

Now, let’s look at the category share of sales for British Columbia and see how it compares to other provinces in 2021. The biggest differences are in the Pre-Roll and Vapor Pen categories. British Columbia has the largest share of Pre-Rolls (24%), and the lowest category share of Vapor Pens (14%) among the other provinces.

Understanding retail in the BC market

Being a retail operator in any industry is hard work, but the cannabis industry surely presents additional challenges. And finding success in cannabis often means discovering creative ways to overcome these challenges with limited time and resources. For example, Canadian retailers will be familiar with the Cannabis Act and the promotional limitations that it brings. This includes prohibiting inducements or loyalty programs, which can make it quite difficult for retailers to leverage traditional marketing tactics to set themselves apart from competitors. Understanding the value of brand partnerships and how they support creative marketing solutions has become more important than ever for BC retailers - and measuring their effectiveness can be best seen through the work done at The Higher Path. Read through the below for a great example of how effective data solutions available in Headset Retailer can help your retail business succeed.

Meet The Higher Path

The Higher Path is a retailer with five locations in British Columbia. To be successful in the Canadian cannabis market, they have had to find work-arounds within the legal limitations of the Cannabis Act and discovered something pretty noteworthy that they can measure along the way.

Specifically, the team at The Higher Path was having a difficult time creating and measuring meaningful relationships with brand partners due to the promotional limitations of the Cannabis Act.

Shay Cunningham is one of the managers of the Higher Path’s Lumby location, and a Headset power user. Like other store managers, Shay’s relationships with brand representatives were key to their success, but forming these relationships took a lot of time and guesswork.

With Headset’s Impact Analysis dashboard, Shay was able to identify the sales lift each brand’s campaign was bringing to the store, ultimately allowing her to evaluate which brand relationships and in-store campaigns generate the most return on investment. On top of having the insight to drive The Higher Path’s strategy, she was also able to leverage the data to empower her brand representatives so that they can understand what success looks like and become better partners. This allows her to quantify and justify her time building relationships with the right brand partners, and navigate the restrictive policies that impact BC retailers.

"Coming from the legacy side of cannabis, terms like data analytics and impact analysis actually used to intimidate me. I am not very tech savvy, if really at all. I more so just know how to sell cannabis. Before I began using Headset it was a lot of guess work trying to keep track and just mentally take notes of things. Which is honestly so much more than it sounds. At the time, I had no proper way to track the individual sales I wanted to with the limited knowledge and the programs that I had available to me. Now with the help of Headset, I am confidently able to track our sales, control our shop’s inventory, monitor individual sales incentives, and help motivate staff along the way.” - Shay Cunningham

We want to thank Shay and the entire crew at The Higher Path for sharing their success with us here! If you’re curious how cannabis data can solve various retail challenges or how other Headset tools can help your business succeed in the industry, request a demo here and a friendly Headsetter will be in touch shortly.