Pre-Rolled Sales Are Rising
Where Is the Demand for Pre-Rolls In Today's Economy?
Today, we marvel at the incredible convenience pre-rolls offer cannabis smokers and dig into the sales statistics for this powerful product.
Why Are Pre-Rolls So Popular?
They're the Original Smokers
Before cannabis was legal, smokers had to roll their own joints. And they're traditionally shared with others. However, in times of COVID-19, sharing joints isn't a socially acceptable pastime. COVID put a dent in cannabis sales as a whole in March 2020, but the market bounced back notably. We'll get into that a little later.
Trust in the Product
A curious customer trusts a pre-roll. They only need a flame to try. Edibles and concentrates can be intimidating to new customers — they trust the old-fashioned, time-tested design of a pre-rolled joint. The joint is an unmistakable symbol, the quintessential tool, for consuming cannabis. It is also one of the fundamental backbones of dispensaries.
An Affordable Price Point
One reason that pre-rolls are so popular is that they're inexpensive. Manufacturers warn against purchasing the very cheap ones, however, because many times they aren't made with prime ingredients. There are so many choices out there that you're bound to find one within your price range. The wholesale price on average is about $2 each. The selling price can vary, from dispensaries selling the cheaper ones for $5 or $10, while the more expensive ones top out at about $25.
Pre-Rolls are Discreet
Pre-rolls can easily be tucked out of sight and are ready from the moment you light up. They stand on their own and aren't weighed down with the accessories needed to roll a traditional joint. Bagged or jarred flower requires carrying a lot — a bowl, a bong, paper — and many people aren't even able to roll a joint on their own.
There's a Great Variety
Pre-rolls can now be purchased in a variety of strains and percentages. They're available in indica, sativa, and a mix of both in hybrid versions. They're even available in just-CBD flower. There's a subsection in pre-rolls for those that are infused with high-THC oils, kiefs, or extracts. These infusions work to make the product more potent and costly. And pre-rolls can be packaged in multi-packs or as individual cigarettes. Speaking of packaging, there is a vast array of packaging designed for pre-rolls, and some even have child-protective packaging.
Convenience is paramount with pre-rolls. They are so easy to transport, you can slip one into your pocket or purse, and there you have your favorite joint ready to go. All you need is a light. And those little tubes are great for micro-puffing. Consumers can take a puff and put it back in its package.
Pre-Roll Sales Have Risen
The demand for pre-rolls is high in today's cannabis marketplace, and that trend is only expected to grow. Sales of pre-rolls have been extremely strong since recreational legalization started in Colorado in 2014.
Back in 2016, pre-rolls were still extremely popular and growing. Between Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, sales of pre-rolls totaled $158 million. Just in Colorado, pre-roll sales were up by 61 percent. In Washington, they were up by 278 percent. And in Oregon by a massive 282 percent rise.
In 2017, growth was steady in all cannabis-selling states for pre-rolls. Oregon saw sales meet $10.29 million in Q4, representing a 44 percent growth over the previous year's same quarter. In the same quarter, Colorado's pre-roll grew by 29 percent, with $21.14 million in sales. And Washington state made $68 million exclusively on pre-roll sales.
What 2020 Has Changed
As it has in the rest of the world, COVID has brought sweeping changes to the cannabis industry. New ways of ordering materialized, including ordering online and picking up, as well as contactless payments. In addition, dispensaries were officially declared as "essential" businesses.
As expected, in March 2020, trends were extremely unpredictable. Customers initially rushed to stores to stock-up on cannabis supplies when stay-at-home ordinances were first announced. The middle weeks of March showed the most unpredictable trends. The last week of March saw the industry move to a "new normal" trend. This trend looks very different from those before COVID. Fridays have seen a 6.2 percent dip in their sales, and Saturdays comprise 5 percent less of the week's sales. There was a noticeable spike in sales on Wednesday of the week of April 13th, which can be attributed to the stimulus checks the U.S. began distributing.
Pre-rolls are dominating market share along with vapes and edibles, as flower and bud sales are slowly declining. Popular among younger consumers, Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) is purchasing pre-rolls at a much higher rate than the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945).
Incredibly popular among cannabis consumers, pre-rolls have made up 9.1 percent of total cannabis sales of 2020 to date. And 31 percent of all cannabis customers bought pre-rolls. Research also shows that Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) clearly has an affinity for pre-rolls.
Studies show that marketing pre-rolls is most effective when being targeted towards younger people. And women hold the higher market share — Generation Z women consume pre-rolls at a 15 percent higher average rate, while Generation Z men purchase at an 8 percent rate.
While older buyers are not purchasing pre-rolls in droves, you'll want to continue marketing to them as well. Many members of the older generations are seeking cannabis for wellness reasons, as opposed to recreational. Therefore, there is an emerging market for CBD hemp joints.
Infused pre-rolls are steadily gaining popularity in their own right, although not everywhere, and are but a small segment of the pre-roll category. Infused pre-roll sales differ greatly between states in their popularity. California loves infused pre-rolls, where they made up 28 percent of the pre-roll market during 2017. However, in Oregon, infused pre-rolls cover only about 5 percent of the market. In Colorado, only 15 percent, and in Washington, around 18 percent.
Conditions have long looked favorable for the pre-rolled joint. And the year that has changed the world as we know it has been no exception. Cannabis growers and manufacturers can expect stable growth for pre-rolls moving forward.