Recreational cannabis brand and product expansion slow in US markets

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Marijuana companies are slowing the rollout of new brands and products in what might be the latest sign of market maturity in early states that legalized adult-use sales.

This is good news for established cannabis brands as competition for shelf space declines while sales continue to grow.

Brand recognition and strong products also will be more important for cannabis companies entering the market, given that consumers are showing more signs amid the coronavirus pandemic of relying on brand and product loyalty when shopping for merchandise.

A review of seven years of brand and product data from Colorado and Washington shows that brand and product counts have stabilized – and even declined – in both states over the past three years.

The data covers categories monitored by Headset, a Seattle-based data analytics company that specializes in cannabis products, including beverages, capsules, concentrates, edibles, flower, pre-rolls, tinctures, topicals and vapes.

While the number of brands sold by Colorado retailers is growing, the pace has slowed compared to previous years.

The state also has seen the number of individual products available per year stabilize at around 33,000 since 2018.

Brand and product counts began to decline in Washington state in 2016 after two years of skyrocketing growth.

Products per brand, a useful measure to compare the states, has declined in both states, which signals a tightening of the markets.

Each has settled in at 37 products per brand going into the last quarter of 2020. Washington state peaked in 2016 at 56 products per brand and Colorado at 41 just last year.

Nevada, Oregon and other states experienced a leveling off of products per brand after the initial market launch, but those markets haven’t been around as long as Colorado and Washington state.

It’s too early to tell if the Canadian market will follow suit, given that many categories only recently launched there.

In the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has made brands even more important, given that retailers increasingly are relying on online sales and curbside pickup versus in-store customer purchases involving budtenders.

Andrew Long can be reached at