Leeriness over respiratory hazards is one factor that drives some cannabis consumers away from flower and vapes and toward edibles and infused beverages, industry observers said.
“I do see people come in that … have a 20-year history with cigarettes, and the last thing they want to do is put more combustibles in their body. So you find that they lean more toward edibles,” said Dominic Cundari, general manager at ArborSide in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He said edibles outsell concentrates at his store, defying national trends.
Cundari and others believe edibles will continue to gain market share for reasons that include ease of use, familiarity, popular brands and new innovations.
“Another factor that really plays a big part in people’s minds is brands,” Cundari said. He explained that as the Michigan market has stabilized and grown since recreational marijuana sales began in 2018, there is much more cannabis advertising.
“Now that we’re in a legal and licensed market, we’ve got multistate-operating businesses across the board in Michigan. People are used to seeing advertisements and branding for a lot of these companies,” he said.
Jeff Finnerty, head of marketing at New York-based multistate operator Ayr Wellness, agreed more consumers are taking an interest in edibles and infused beverages. He attributes the uptick in sales partly to familiarity and partly to innovations such as nanotechnology, which creates a faster and more-predictable onset of effects.
Edibles and infused beverages can be especially popular among newer cannabis consumers, Finnerty said. For newbies who might be nervous about traditional cannabis consumption methods including smoking and vaping, something more “familiar” such as a beverage could be a popular entry point.
That’s part of the reason Ayr recently acquired Levia, a Massachusetts-based infused seltzer company. Levia sales have surged in Massachusetts, and Ayr is betting it can also happen in other states.
“Levia is a great way to bring new people into the market because they are already familiar with the seltzer (trend), and that is something that will appeal to people looking to replace alcoholic beverages,” Finnerty said.
But edibles and infused beverages are only a small portion of sales at Highland Health, a marijuana retailer in Trinidad, Colorado. General Manager Ann DeMarco said the products are even outsold by accessories at her location.
“As a consumer, it’s because you get a bigger bang for your buck with the flower,” DeMarco suggested. “A chocolate bar is $20 for 100 milligrams (of THC). And we have a large percentage of the population—myself included—that gets absolutely no effect from ingested cannabis, and so they’d rather buy flower.”
To see the full cover package including graphs and charts, visit “What Consumers Want” in the digital version of MJBizMagazine.