Infographic: How Consumers Are Shaping Cannabis Consumption
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How Consumers Are Shaping Cannabis Consumption

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Cannabis Concentrates

How Consumers Are Shaping Cannabis Consumption

The cannabis industry continues to reach new heights, and according to market analysts, global legal spending on cannabis could reach $32 billion by 2022 — a majority of which is thanks to U.S. and Canadian consumers.

What’s driving the evolution of the market?

Cannabis is in the midst of a shakeup, and today’s infographic from Ionic Brands highlights how consumers are significantly shaping the landscape of cannabis.

Cannabis Concentrates: A New Frontier

For years, joints and blunts dominated the industry—but sales of traditional flower are swiftly losing ground to new products. Here’s how cannabis consumer spending looks across North America in a few short years:

Product typeFlowerEdiblesConcentratesOther
2017$4.2B$1B$1.9B$1.3B
2022E$10.5B$4.1B$10.5B$4.1B
% Market Share↓ 14pp
From 50% to 36%
↑ 2pp
From 12% to 14%
↑ 13pp
From 23% to 36%
↓ 1pp
From 15% to 14%
CAGR20%33%41%26%

Cannabis consumers are clearly moving away from simply smoking the product. Concentrates are the fastest growing industry segment, which is not surprising since they’re needed to make all sorts of products, from edibles to topicals and tinctures. Cannabis concentrates are also discreet, convenient, and more potent than other cannabis products, all of which contribute to their consumer appeal.

In fact, these changing preferences are disrupting other mammoth industries. Take JUUL Labs for example: the inconspicuous, smokeless device is chipping away at the tobacco industry, and now accounts for almost 73% of the e-cigarette market. JUUL’s growth is proof that consumers are driving the market, and this trend is also reflected in cannabis.

Among all cannabis concentrate types, vaporizers (vapes) overwhelmingly come out on top in established markets, accounting for 43% of sales in Colorado, 70% in Oregon, and 79% in California.

Concentrate Sales (2018, Jan-Jun)VapeWaxShatterLive ResinOilsOthers
Colorado$97M$17M$16M$29M$12M$14M
Oregon$60M-$10M$4M$5M$8M
California$282M14M$14M$21M-$42M

Branding is Everything in Cannabis

The cannabis concentrates space is becoming increasingly sophisticated. With more money to be made from less product, concentrates offer higher margins as well. But in a fragmented market, brand recognition is arguably the biggest factor guiding consumer demand.

Returning to JUUL’s example, the company’s branding played a big hand in its accelerated trajectory—and in grabbing the attention of major players like Altria, the corporate parent of Marlboro. Altria made a landmark investment into 35% of JUUL in December 2018, bringing the latter’s value up to $38 billion.

In the nascent cannabis industry, consumers are still wondering who they can trust. A recent survey revealed that 72% of cannabis consumers rated branding as somewhat or very important in assessing a product’s quality and safety. Branded cannabis products are on the rise, but they’re not as established as Starbucks coffee or Apple iPhones quite yet.

When done right, cannabis concentrates brands are able to capture quite a significant chunk of the market:

  • California
    Top 10 brands: 48.4%
    All other: 51.6%
  • Colorado
    Top 10 brands: 46.6%
    All other: 53.4%
  • Oregon
    Top 10 brands: 59.7%
    All other: 40.3%

In a budding industry, such brand market domination is an impressive feat. However, a few barriers still stand in the way of these brands’ ability to scale on a national level: cannabis and related products aren’t legal in every U.S. state, while diverse state regulations also complicate the process.

Cannabis consumer brands that can spread out into multiple states, and develop consumer trust, will emerge as winners in this new, dynamic market.

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9 Things Investors Should Know About the Cannabis Industry in 2021

This graphic provides an overview of 9 key developments in the cannabis industry that investors should be aware of going into 2021.

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9 Things Cannabis Investors Should Know in 2021

Unlike dozens of other industries across the globe, cannabis experienced significant growth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, with consumption for both medical and recreational products on the rise, 2020 was a record-breaking year for the industry. After years of investor uncertainty, analysts are predicting a continued bull market in 2021, with several new and exciting developments on the horizon.

Here are nine things cannabis investors need to know.

1. Cannabis Stocks on the Rise

While asset prices took a dip during the initial stage of the COVID-19 outbreak in March, the cannabis sector recovered swiftly after reporting impressive numbers.

Even though cannabis investors have experienced some ups and downs in the last several years, 2021 looks more hopeful.

2. COVID-19 and Cannabis

Cannabis has become an attractive option for people spending more time at home, both as a means of entertainment, and to reduce stress and anxiety associated with the pandemic.

As a result, cannabis sales are soaring. In Canada, monthly sales reached an all-time high of $270 million (CAD) in October 2020, a dramatic increase from $180 million just six months earlier.

3. Cannabis Black Market No More?

For millions of U.S. citizens who live in states where the sale of cannabis is still restricted, the illicit market continues to be their only option.

But with loosening restrictions and legal cannabis becoming more widely available, legal sales are predicted to reach $50 billion by 2026 while illegal sales will plummet to less than $1 billion by the same year.

YearU.S. Legal Cannabis SalesU.S. Illegal Cannabis Sales
2016$6 billion$25 billion
2026$50 billion<$1 billion

4. Political Change Driving Market Growth

Almost 70% of Americans now support the full legalization of cannabis—the highest figure ever recorded.

States where cannabis is legal are now paving the way for cannabis sales, with California expected to pull in over $6 billion by 2021 alone. If federal legalization comes to fruition over the next several years, the already booming U.S. market could see further growth.

5. All Eyes on the European Cannabis Market

The European cannabis market has been on investors’ radar for several years, and with good reason—it is one of the largest cannabis markets in the world.

Driven primarily by medicinal products, the market will be valued at over $39 billion by 2024, with countries like Germany—Europe’s largest economy—leading the way.

In late 2020, the market experienced its biggest breakthrough yet, with the European Union ruling that products containing CBD (one of the most active ingredients in cannabis) are no longer listed as narcotics.

6. Making History in Mexico

Mexico is another market that is piquing the interest of investors and cannabis companies the world over. That’s because it could soon be the third country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis by court order.

With a total addressable market of $2 billion and the potential to support up to 75,000 jobs, these new regulations could change the dynamic of the global market for the better.

7. Most Popular Cannabis Products

Given the flurry of product innovation in the market, consumption of cannabis is quickly changing.

Relatively new products such as edibles and oils are gaining traction, while consumption of flower appears to be declining. This could be due in part to oral products being perceived as a healthier alternative to smoking.

8. CBD Products are Moving into the Mainstream

Although CBD was once considered a niche product that could only be found in dispensaries, growing awareness of the benefits and safety of these products are causing companies operating in the consumer packaged goods industry to take notice.

The cannabis compound is a new addition to a wide range of products such as skincare, makeup, and supplements that can now be purchased almost anywhere—from ecommerce sites to local grocery stores.

9. The New Cannabinoids on the Block

Beyond CBD, scientists have discovered over 100 rare, or minor cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN, that could have even more significant benefits than their major cannabinoid counterparts.

For example, preliminary research shows that CBG could inhibit cancer growth, help treat glaucoma, bladder dysfunction, and kill drug-resistant bacteria.

These discoveries are not only attracting huge attention from the cannabis industry, but from the pharmaceutical industry as well.

Milestones in the Making

With all of these exciting developments coming to the fore, it’s safe to say 2021 could be one of the cannabis industry’s most transformative years to date.

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Mapped: The European CBD Landscape in 2020

This graphic explains the innately complex legal status of CBD products in Europe and highlights the countries leading the CBD charge.

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Mapped: The European CBD Landscape in 2020

To say CBD has risen in popularity over the last decade is an understatement.

Not only have CBD consumer products rapidly infiltrated a long list of industries, new research discoveries continue to prove their therapeutic benefits. By 2023, the European CBD market is estimated to reach €1.4 billion.

However, a big problem remains—there is an incredible amount of uncertainty surrounding what is legal, and what isn’t. The above infographic from Elements of Green sheds some light on the innately complex legal status of CBD products in Europe.

The Great CBD Debate

CBD—short for cannabidiol—is a non-psychotropic compound produced by cannabis plants.

While most European countries have legalised it in some way, the caveat for many is that it must be extracted from industrial hemp, thus containing less than 0.2% THC—the intoxicating compound also found in cannabis. On the other hand, countries such as France and Norway only permit CBD isolate (the pure form of CBD) with no THC.

In 2019, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) designated CBD products as a novel food. This means that companies should seek authorisation to bring products to market, although it is not required by law.

However, the industry has now hit a fork in the road, as the European Commission (EC) recently announced it will be suspending applications for novel foods status while it determines whether or not certain CBD products should be labelled as narcotics instead.

The Legal Landscape in 2020

As the industry flip flops between regulations, consumers and investors need to understand that each country has its own laws surrounding the use of CBD.

CountryCBD Legal Staus
🇦🇱 AlbaniaIllegal
🇦🇩 AndorraIllegal
🇦🇲 ArmeniaIllegal
🇦🇹 AustriaLegal grey area (legal lean)
🇧🇾 BelarusIllegal
🇧🇦 Bosnia and HerzegovinaIllegal
🇧🇪 BelgiumLegal grey area (restricted lean)
🇧🇬 BulgariaUnrestricted
🇨🇿 Czech RepublicLegal grey area (legal lean)
🇭🇷 CroatiaLegal grey area (legal lean)
🇩🇰 DenmarkUnrestricted
🇪🇪 EstoniaLegal grey area (legal lean)
🇫🇮 FinlandLegal grey area (restricted lean)
🇫🇷 FranceUnrestricted
🇬🇪 GeorgiaIllegal
🇩🇪 GermanyUnrestricted
🇬🇷 GreeceUnrestricted
🇭🇺 HungaryLegal grey area (legal lean)
🇮🇸 IcelandLegal grey area (legal lean)
🇮🇪 IrelandLegal grey area (restricted lean)
🇮🇹 ItalyLegal grey area (restricted lean/legal for medical use)
🇱🇻 LatviaLegal grey area
🇱🇮LiechtensteinLegal grey area
🇱🇹 LithuaniaIllegal
🇱🇺 LuxembourgUnrestricted
🇲🇹 MaltaLegal grey area/legal for medical use
🇲🇩 MoldovaIllegal
🇲🇨 MonacoIllegal
🇲🇪 MontenegroIllegal
🇳🇱 NetherlandsUnrestricted
🇲🇰 North MacedoniaLegal for medical use
🇳🇴 NorwayLegal for medical use
🇵🇱 PolandUnrestricted
🇵🇹 PortugalLegal for medical use
🇷🇴 RomaniaUnrestricted
🇷🇸 SerbiaLegal grey area (restricted lean)
🇸🇰 SlovakiaIllegal
🇸🇮 SloveniaUnrestricted
🇪🇸 SpainUnrestricted
🇸🇪 SwedenUnrestricted
🇨🇭 SwitzerlandUnrestricted
🇺🇦 UkraineUnrestricted
🇬🇧 United KingdomUnrestricted

While a handful of European countries have made it illegal to import, buy, or possess CBD, the vast majority have legalised CBD products that either comply with the Novel Foods Act, or can be obtained from a licensed medical practitioner.

Of these countries, Germany and the UK lead the European CBD market, followed by Switzerland, Austria, Spain, and Greece.

A Call For Change

A progessive stance on cannabis legalisation combined with increasing consumer demand has led to several countries showing remarkable growth, such as Poland, Bulgaria, Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

Luxembourg in particular presents a compelling growth story, as it plans to fully legalise adult-use recreational cannabis in 2021, which would make it the first European country to do so.

Despite its small size, Luxembourg could in fact be instrumental in encouraging neighbouring countries to implement similar reforms, also known as the neighbour effect.

Growing Pains of a Nascent Industry

Considering each country has its own unique restrictions in place, CBD consumers should educate themselves on the regulations and laws relevant to them.

Despite these often confusing laws and restrictions, it is clear that demand for CBD products is growing exponentially. As a result, the continent may have the potential to overtake North America as the largest CBD market in the world.

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