Summer is just around the corner, which means everyone is getting ready for some much-needed fun in the sun. With the share of Americans consuming cannabis on the rise, it is fair to expect that cannabis will play a bigger role in 2022 summer recreation than ever before.
The arrival of summer also means thirsty cannabis Consumers, and this year many are keeping a close eye on one up-and-coming form factor: cannabis-infused drinks. BDSA Retail Sales Tracking data show that cannabis beverages hold a small (~5%) share of total edibles share across BDSA-tracked markets, but some aspects of the beverage form factor make it an appealing product format for new Consumers and inhalable Consumers who are looking to branch out into the edible category.
Not only is overall Consumer penetration growing across markets (regardless of regulatory conditions), but more Consumers are consuming and preferring edible products (beverages fall under edibles in BDSA’s product hierarchy).
- BDSA Consumer Insights tracks preference for edibles growing across both US adult-use and medical states, with medical markets seeing Consumer preference for edibles grow by ~10%.
- Much of this growth in preference for edibles is likely due to new Consumers who are drawn to product formats that they are familiar with. BDSA knows this as ~50% of Acceptors (non-Consumers who are open to consuming) are open to consuming via edible format.
When looking for winning products, expect consumers to seek out beverages that market on effects rather than strain or indica/sativa/hybrid classification.
- One trend already being observed in BDSA sales data for other edible subcategories is the success of edibles marketed by mood or effect, and the success of edibles containing minor cannabinoids. Not surprising, given the number of Consumers seeking functional benefits from edible consumption. BDSA tracks sleep, relax/unwind, and pain management as top reasons why Consumers choose edibles.
- While minor cannabinoids like CBG and CBN have yet to work their way into the beverage subcategory, beverages containing CBD are already claiming the top spots in several BDSA-tracked markets. Four of the top five THC-infused beverages by dollar sales in California for Q1 2022 also contained CBD, up from just one of the top five products in Q1 2020.
The fast-acting effects of cannabis beverage products offer significant cross-appeal to Consumers who prefer inhalables, the largest Consumer segment.
- One key form factor benefit that beverages offer is the fast onset of effects, especially with new nano-emulsion technologies that are being utilized by top edible producers across markets.
- BDSA Consumer Insights data from Fall 2021 show that ~15% of inhalable Consumers make their product choice based on fast-acting effects, compared to ~10% of all Consumers, making beverages an ideal choice for the Inhalables consumer looking to brand out and try new products.
Smaller doses can lead to big profits for beverage producers.
- While seasoned edible Consumers may opt for a couch-locking 100 mg dose of THC, BDSA Consumer Insights data show that a large share of Consumers prefer a lower dose of THC. Per BDSA Fall 2021 Consumer data, ~55% of edible Consumers in Adult-Use states prefer a THC dosage level of 20 mg or less.
- BDSA Retail Sales Tracking data from California, Colorado, and Illinois in Q1 2022 show that three of the top five beverage products contained less than 25 mg THC, making beverages a great go-to choice for a wide segment of the consumer base.
Because no story from BDSA is complete without a rundown of leading brands, here’s BDSA’s short list of brands to watch in the cannabis beverage space this summer: