Top Selling Cannabis Products: Is Flower Still King?

TOP PRODUCTS HEADER

Flower is — and always has been — the best-selling cannabis product category for dispensaries.

But that’s changing.

As the industry matures, we’re seeing an influx of new products, and new ways to use or consume cannabis.

Let's dive into the data, so you can make business decisions based on future trends, not historical tendencies.

Historical product category breakdown

The graph below shows the cannabis product breakdown for a representative sample of Flowhub customers over the past 3 years.

Top selling cannabis products

You can see that flower — here including all flower sales, both pre-packed, deli-style, and pre-rolls — is a significant portion of the pie.

Concentrates and edibles also share a considerable portion. But all the other categories, including accessories, tinctures, topicals (like balms), clones, seeds, patches, and capsules barely make a dent.

But in 2021, flower made up less (59% of total sales), while concentrates and edibles increased in popularity at 24% and 11% respectively.

There is a clear trend in movement away from flower, and toward products like edibles, cannabeverages, and concentrates.

6 interesting trends about the top-selling cannabis products

Looking at the data over the past three years, here's what we found:

1. Flower still holds the power

Flower is still overwhelmingly the best-selling product category in dispensaries, across all states. But there are a few notable trends.

Medical vs. Recreational

Medical patients purchase more flower than adult-use customers. This number differs by a relatively high 5%.

    Medical vs. Recreational Flower Sales

    State-by-state

    There are some high variations in flower purchases depending on state, such as:

    • Alaska = 70%

    • Montana = 69%

    • California = 57%

    • Oregon = 58%

    Perhaps Oregon and California's more mature markets are losing interest in flower compared to more newly legalized states like Alaska and Montana.

      2. Concentrates and edibles took more of the pie in 2021

      Edibles vs. Concentrates

      Let’s first look at concentrates (which here includes concentrate and extracts). The overall average over the past 3 years was 22% of all sales.

      In 2021, this percentage increased to 24% overall. The states with even more interest in concentrates are Nevada, Colorado, and California. States with less popularity are Oklahoma, Alaska, Maine, and Montana.

      The most obvious “why” is that concentrates are more popular in established cannabis markets, perhaps due to the fact that beginners are more likely to stick with familiar products like edibles and flower.

      Now for edibles, which include cannabis chocolates, gummies, and beverages. The overall average over the past 3 years was 9% of all sales. In 2021, edibles made up 11% of sales — a 2% increase.

      The states leading the increase in edible consumption are Missouri, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts (compared to less popularity in California, Oregon, Alaska, and Montana).

      3. Recreational and medical consumers have different preferences

      It’s not surprising that medical patients have different preferences than recreational customers. Many states even offer different inventory to accommodate these differences in shopping patterns (as well as products that can only be sold as medical based on dosage laws).

      Overall, the category breakdown of the percent of total sales isn’t all that different, though flower is preferred by medical patients (and edibles are less popular).

      Top Medical and Recreational Categories

      Where things get interesting is at the state level.

      In Michigan and Alaska, adult-use customers still overwhelmingly prefer flower (64% and 70% respectively). Not surprisingly, those states had less sales on concentrates.

      Massachusetts and Maine recreational customers don’t prefer flower as much (only 55% and 49% respectively). Maine opts for concentrates instead (27%) and Massachusetts chooses edibles (15%).

      Now looking at medical-only transactions, Colorado (72%), Montana (70%), and Maryland (69%) patients overwhelmingly prefer flower. In both states, concentrates and edibles were low as a result.

      The states where med patients don’t prefer flower as drastically are Michigan (58%), California (50%), and Oregon (58%).

      Michigan medical patients go for concentrates instead (25%) while edibles were on par with the average.

      In California, concentrates and edibles were slightly higher than average, with somewhat elevated purchases across all categories except flower.

      In Oregon, all three main categories were below average (concentrates at only 13% and edibles at 5%). Instead, patients in Oregon chose options from less common categories like tinctures, non-edibles, infused products, topicals, capsules, and patches.

      4. Pre-rolls continue to be high performers

      Pre-rolls are often bundled into sales as “flower,” but when looked at alone, they are still strong performers.

      Pre-rolls make up 17% of total sales in Alaska, 13% in Massachusetts, and 9% in Nevada.

      Comparing those high numbers to 5% in Michigan, 5% in Oklahoma, 3% in Montana, and 3% in Colorado — we see that pre-rolls are losing popularity in some markets.

      5. Pre-packed flower is more common than deli-style

      For Flowhub customers, pre-packed flower is significantly more common than deli-style flower sales.

      • Pre-packed = 36% of total sales

      • Deli-style = 18% of total sales

      If we break out the different types of bulk flower (compared to lumping them together), the top 5 categories from the past 3 years are shown below.

      Top Categories

      6. Established markets have fewer sales in accessories

      Cannabis accessories

      Perhaps unsurprisingly, newer markets have significantly more sales of cannabis accessories, including rolling papers, bongs, lighters, pipes, etc.

      The hypothesis here is that in a new market — with newer consumers — there is a higher need for marijuana paraphernalia. In mature markets with a stable consumer base, these types of purchases aren’t as common.

      The overall average for accessory purchases is 2% of total sales.

      States with higher-than-average accessory sales are Missouri (3%), Maine (4%), and Michigan (5%).

      States with lower-than-average accessory sales are California (2%), Colorado (1%), and Oregon (2%).

      Final thoughts

      These trends give a peek into what’s happening in the cannabis industry from the perspective of popular products, as well as consumer preferences.

      However, it’s important to note that state-by-state laws play a role here. Some states have limits on product types or potency, others dictate how product types are defined (and thus how they are categorized in their POS). What that means is in some cases, the laws will dictate product breakdown, not dispensaries or their shoppers.

      Read this resource about consumer demographic trends to learn more about the impact that factors like age group can have on consumer spending.

      Nick Headshot

      Nick Rudy

      Nick is passionate about cultivating an inclusive, diverse, and equitable cannabis industry. He creates high-value content for cannabis retailers – including data, people profiles, templates, checklists, blogs, resources, and more. Connect with Nick on Linkedin.

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