Cannabis retailer and consumer spending habits have changed ever since Colorado introduced its emerging recreational market. Before the rise of concentrate extracts and CBD-infused everything, cannabis flower was the biggest seller among medical states.
Today, recreational sales have significantly expanded to other major markets in California, Oregon, and beyond. Modern cannabis consumers are shifting their buying habits away from traditional flower strains in favor of cannabis concentrates such as oils and extracts. Loosening federal restrictions on hemp have also paved the way for a burgeoning CBD market.
In 2018, consumers had their pick of the litter of a variety of the most popular cannabis products including cannabis-infused beverages, chocolates, gummies, and more. Cannabis consumer trends also indicate that microdosing and vaping are here to stay. Based on consumer insights, here are the most popular weed products of 2018.
Cannabis-infused beverages were red hot last year. Cannabinoids found their way into everything from cocktails to kombuchas. The popularity of cannabis drinks prompted major beverage producers like Constellation Brands, Molson Coors, and Anheuser-Busch to invest billions in Canadian cannabis cultivators.
BDS Analytics offered consumer insight on recreational cannabis markets with their latest 2018 report on the biggest cannabis trends of the year. In states with a seasoned recreational market, beverage sales continue to grow at 37 percent. Drinks offer a convenient cannabis delivery method to consumers.
Cannabis-infused drinks can be consumed on-the-go, at a party, or from the comfort of home. Consumers have grown accustomed to the sheer choice of cannabis-derived powders, teas, shots, and more. Of course, the most popular weed products vary by state.
For example, Californians love their tea, while Colorado residents prefer their water-soluble powders. Oregon residents prefer the convenience of small cannabis-infused shots. Shots can be perfect for microdosing, which continues to be a rising trend among cannabis delivery methods.
Everyone's getting in on the branded flower craze. Just a few years ago, unbranded flower was the norm. Today, these aromatic buds have tons of bag appeal and come in sleek packaging featuring captivating imagery. More importantly, branded flower provides product consistency to the consumer.
In 2018, one of the most popular weed products was premium branded flower. California's regulatory changes were a boon for cannabis flower brands like Canndescent and Korova that leveraged luxury-grade flower to consumers. Experts liken cannabis flower brands' growth to the rise of individual coffee roasters and the third-wave coffee movement.
Many celebrities, musicians, and athletes are betting big on branded cannabis flower. Bob Marley's Estate runs Marley Natural and legendary musician Willie Nelson makes some of his own branded Willie's Reserve flower. Famous former athletes like Mike Tyson are also crafting their own line of cannabis flower. Now, you can smoke what your favorite musician is smoking.
Despite the rampant counterfeit vape products that run amok in unlicensed shops, vapes are more popular than ever. Vapes are slowly overtaking flower as the most popular product category. As one of the most popular weed products, vapes made up 58 percent of concentrate sales in 2018, and for good reason.
Vapes are convenient, pocket-friendly, and easy-to-use. They don't emit any smoke and hardly any odor. Plus, vapes aren't as harsh on the throat. Disposable vapes offer maximum convenience if you need a one-time-use vape pen. Vape cartridges come in various sizes with different cannabinoid and terpene contents that appeal to cannabis connoisseurs.
The rise of cannabis beverages gave the green light to a cornucopia of cannabinoid-rich and water-soluble powders. Dissolvable powders can be introduced into food and drinks. Dissolvables can be flavorless and odorless, which is good for people that don't like the taste of cannabis.
Compared to traditional cannabis-infused edibles, dissolvable powders can have a faster onset time. Users can expect to feel the effects after about 20 to 30 minutes instead of the hour-long onset for edibles. Dissolvable powders will be bigger in 2019.
In Colorado, tinctures account for 8 percent of edible sales in 2018. About 80 percent of those tinctures sales are for CBD-rich tinctures. In fact, California's CBD tincture sales make up 81 percent of the tincture market.
The 2018 Farm Bill has made CBD tinctures more accessible to states with medical and recreational marijuana markets. CBD tinctures are one of the most popular weed products because of their versatility.
Brands like Chong's Choice and Kin Slips offer cannabis consumers a smoke-free way to consume pure THC or CBD. Sublingual strips are portable and discreet. They dissolve in your mouth and come in a bevy of fresh flavors like tarragon and citrus or mango and turmeric.
Sublingual strips can be placed under the tongue for maximum THC and CBD absorption. Instead of going through the digestive tract like all edibles, sublingual strips give the user more control over their dose. Not to mention, sublingual strips offer a quick onset of effects.
Live resin sales have increased in Colorado and Oregon. Live resin concentrates are made from frozen cannabis buds that preserve more of the terpenes than traditional curing and drying. Some consumers also report that terpenes enhance their cannabis experience. Despite its slightly higher price among extracts, consumers are growing wise to live resin.
While still a small player in the cannabis retail market, cannabis suppositories are a growing trend. They may not be one of the most popular weed products, but they're taking up more and more space in the retail market due to their efficacy.
Vaginal suppositories from Foria, for example, have been used by consumers for menstrual and pelvic discomfort. Suppositories can also be inserted rectally. They may not be a popular delivery method, but some reports suggest that suppositories may improve bioavailability.
Gourmet chocolate treats infused with cannabis are undeniably one of the most popular weed products across states. Among Colorado's multi-million-dollar cannabis chocolate sales, CBD-rich chocolates accounted for 61 percent of the market. In fact, the CBD-rich chocolate market experienced a 242 percent growth in 2018 according to BDS Analytics.
Chocolates appeal to cannabis consumers with a sweet tooth. Many consumers prefer the convenience of breaking off a piece of chocolate or eating a single truffle than taking a dose from a tincture dropper.
Gummy sales are dominating the edible market. Gummy sales in California reached 27 percent of edible sales in 2018 with baked good sales trailing behind at 10 percent. Interestingly, BDS Analytics zeroed in on the most popular gummy flavor: watermelon.
Other popular gummy flavors included blackberry, lemon, cherry cola, blue raspberry, strawberry, and sour apple. Consumers preferred more accessible fruit flavors in favor of more exotic flavors like tropical punch, pineapple, coconut, and tangerine.
Pretty soon, the majority of cannabis products will be branded. Stiff competition in California and Colorado has opened up the door for new cannabis brands to take over other well-established brands. 2019 is set to be an exciting and innovative year for cannabis products and consumer trends. We'll see next year what new products are available.
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