Cannabis industry analysts and retail buyers say concentrates have made significant advances in the past 12 to 18 months—especially in more mature markets and among frequent cannabis consumers.
This goes for both stand-alone concentrates and infused products such as pre-rolls, vape cartridges and edibles.
According to the Brightfield Group, a cannabis industry analytics firm in Chicago, almost 29% of marijuana consumers say they have used concentrates in the past six months, up from around 22% two years ago.
“That’s really a lot of the direction that the market is going,” said Bethany Gomez, Brightfield’s managing director.
The increase is even more significant in mature marijuana markets. For example, over the past two years, cannabis consumers using concentrates increased from about 20% to 26% in Michigan and from 13% to 20% in Massachusetts.
“More than 64% of consumers are using cannabis at least daily. … The more frequently you use, the higher your tolerance becomes. That’s helping build the concentrates market,” Gomez said of the category.
Concentrates are a driving force
Gomez said she sees two drivers of concentrates’ success right now.
One: Consumers are very price sensitive, particularly given the inflation seen in the past year.
“We see consumers not willing to give up on their cannabis usage, not willing to use any less product. But they’re definitely looking for a stronger bang for their buck, which is why concentrates can be a really effective product for heavy users,” Gomez said.
Another factor behind increased concentrates use is that the products have become much more refined, Gomez said, both in terms of branding and packaging as well as manufacturing.
Lower prices, better equipment
Cheaper products and better consumption equipment were two other drivers that retail managers cited when discussing rising concentrate sales.
Concentrate products have become cheaper in many markets because prices for the wholesale flower needed to make them have also dropped. In Michigan, for example, pounds of wholesale cannabis flower can be bought for less than $1,000.
That allows stores such as Premiere Provisions in Big Rapids, Michigan, to retail full-gram concentrate cartridges for as little as $11. At Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary in Las Vegas, cured concentrate products sell for as little as $30 per gram, while a half-gram of live resin can be bought for $40.
Until a couple of years ago, concentrate consumption mostly meant needing a dab rig, which could be complicated and cost hundreds of dollars.
Now, however, concentrate-consumption tools are much less expensive, with some designed like vape pens that are simple to use as well as portable.
Inyo Store Manager Lance Mathis calls these dab pens “entry devices.” They are similar to vape pens, with a chamber to heat concentrate. They retail for about $20 or $25.
It’s about accessibility and convenience, Mathis said.
Inyo also sells concentrate-consumption devices for upward of $200, depending on how invested the consumer is.
Best-selling concentrate forms
The variety of concentrate types that consumers are using expanded from 2021 to 2022. Wax, shatter, live resin, crumble, hash, budder, rosin, diamonds and batter all experienced higher consumer-reported use year over year.
“Live resin is far and away the most popular segment (within concentrates) by a pretty good margin,” said Cooper Ashley, analytics manager at Seattle-based marijuana sales data company Headset. “It really broke away from everything else in early 2021, and it’s been pretty consistently the most popular format in our data.”
“The other one to watch is rosin,” Ashley said. “Right now, we have live resin as the top. Wax is the second, rosin is the third.”
“Cured resin, live resin and normal wax seem to be what we sell the most. Everybody likes that little bit of thicker consistency,” said Edwin Maguire, general manager at Michigan-based Premiere Provisions.
Retail managers at other stores reported similar trends. For his part, Mathis in Las Vegas said that butter, shatter and sugar have been steady sellers at Inyo.
“Most recently, live resin has been all the rage. Everybody’s trying to do live resin and get it down to the cheapest cost they can, because live resin has always been more expensive. As that live resin price continues to come down, it will do better than the other concentrate forms that are out there because it’s a superior product,” Mathis said. “I think that’s going to be the new thing that’s going to try to take over.”