Increasingly, consumers are demanding consumables. Edibles, beverages, tinctures, and sublinguals are taking a big bite out of the market. Hungry for more info? Here, 4 experts answer your questions about this growing sector.
What are today’s hot and cold categories?
Beverages are really hot right now, and within that category mocktails are killing it. Last year in June in California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington, mocktails accounted for less than $10,000 in sales for the month. However, in June 2019 mocktails came in just under $30,000: 300-percent growth. The biggest losers were brownies, blondies, and cereal bars. While there are some brands in that space that did well, the segment overall saw a 26-percent decline, from $950,000 per month in 2018 to $700,000 per month in June 2019.
As far as companies that are growing like, no pun intended, a weed, Dixie Elixirs and Sunderstorm/Kahna are pushing 50-percent-plus growth during the first half of 2019 thanks to their wide variety of gummies. Fireball, a new brand in the Nevada market, launched this year but has already seen sales of its cinnamon gummies blossom to nearly $100,000 per month.
Consumables in general are growing quickly, especially in California, which is the largest market in the United States and relatively new with adult-use retail.
Year-to-date, the consumables category accounts for 11.3 percent of the market—a bit higher than we see in mature markets like Colorado and Washington. Within consumables, we see subcategories like gummies gaining significant market share with almost 100-percent growth year-to-date versus the same time last year. —Cy Scott, co-founder and CEO, Headset Inc.
What makes a gummy great?
A great gummy is the blend of delicious flavor, perfect consistency, a heady mix of sweet and sour, and fun, vibrant colors. Consistency is a pivotal part of the experience. Gummies must be just right: not too soft, not too tough. Since they take little time to eat, the flavor should be enjoyed longer. This is very difficult to achieve. A great cannabis gummy is all of this plus a consistent experience every time with potency and effect. Consumers want to know what to expect, not have any surprises. We get this with foods at the grocery store, and cannabis shouldn’t be any different. Also, consumers want a rapid onset so they don’t have to wait too long to feel the effects.
The gummy category is so hot right now because it offers something for everybody. We all grew up eating gummies as kids and remember that [experience]. They’re always a reliable go-to, whether as a snack or a sweet treat. Moreover, they are one of the most highly consumed candies in [consumer packaged goods] because they appeal to us as a regular treat—unlike chocolate, which is perceived as more for special occasions.
Also, in recent years gummies have become a popular delivery system for vitamins and cold/flu treatments. This crossover helps consumers look at them as medicine for sleep or pain in the cannabis market, too. —Cameron Clarke, CEO, Sunderstorm
What do dispensary buyers look for in consumables?
Dispensary buyers are looking to diversify with new flavors and product types that will appeal to new cannabis consumers. As the recreational market continues to expand and evolve, we see buyers wanting to offer their customers a wider range of edibles options in more categories while supporting the trusted brands that are building relationships with consumers. Consumables are popular with new cannabis consumers, in particular, due to their approachability, so ensuring that they offer something for everyone is more important than ever, especially with dietary restrictions such as gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan.
Based on trends, brands that are finding new ways to improve their ingredients are doing well. We are seeing strong growth in the chocolate and beverage subcategories. Companies like Moon and Altai are in the top ten within the chocolate category in California.
Consumers want products that are on-trend, and companies looking for opportunities to go into those segments to help drive new consumer consumption will be successful if they keep that in mind. —Joe Bayern, president, Indus Holdings Inc.
What questions are consumers asking?
In general, consumers are very curious about the category right now. It is like a modern-day gold rush. The closet stoners are starting to come out and try newer ways to consume. They want to know everything—literally, all the details. So, if a budtender is not knowledgeable, it could be a very uncomfortable situation.
First and foremost, consumers are looking for certainty the items they purchase will work the first time. I like to remind the public everyone has his or her own bio-individuality, and what works for the goose might not work for the gander. There are never guarantees in life. Cannabis is no different. Just because a particular item did not work for you does not mean it won’t work for the next person. Consumers need to understand it will always be an experiment when selecting an item they have never tried before.
Also, nice packaging is very important to them—I’d say 70 percent of the selling process. A brand could have low-quality products, but if it is eye-catching and easy to get into it will sell faster than a quality item. Furthermore, if the brand looks appealing, is affordable, and is actually “worth its weight in weed,” it easily becomes a top seller. —Jazziymn West, assistant manager, Captain Jack’s dispensary