The cannabis industry in the United States continues to grow and adapt to changing consumer behaviors, methods of production, and technology. Let’s take a look at some of the emerging trends surrounding cannabis in 2021, and what the industry as a whole may be in for in the coming months and years.
Health & Wellness in Cannabis Industry
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a boon for the health and wellness industry, as many individuals have begun to place a greater emphasis on taking care of their bodies and soothing their minds. Superfoods containing hemp, full spectrum cannabis extracts, CBD and CBG products, and other cannabis products are all becoming popular among consumers, and there’s no reason to think that trend will end anytime soon. One cannabis statistic that stands out is the the anticipated growth in the cannabis industry in the US. According to BDSA, Retail sales of cannabis will reach $47.5 billion by 2026.
Sustainability is an emerging consumer demand across products and industries, and the cannabis business is no exception. People are looking for products that are sustainably produced, organically grown, all-natural, and free of hazardous toxins and chemicals.
Consumers are getting smarter, and they care more deeply about where their products come from and how they are produced. This is leading some cannabis brands to vertically integrate, giving them the ability to control quality through the various stages of production and distribution. Cannabis marketing companies are seeking to establish trust and transparency with consumers, providing them with more insight into the production process, what ingredients are used to make products, and more.
Other Cannabinoids in Cannabis Brands
Consumers are also gaining awareness about other chemical elements of cannabis apart from THC. While much of the focus of the industry has been on THC products, more and more consumers are learning about the benefits of other compounds including CBD and the up-and-coming CBG, which may aid users with sleep, pain, inflammation, and discomfort. Full-spectrum products have also grown in popularity in recent years. Other compounds that consumers are learning about include CBC, CBN, and THCV.
Delta-8, Delta-9, and other unidentified cannabinoids that haven’t been specifically identified as legal or illegal. This gray area leaves new product development open, so many cannabis brands are taking advantage of this, by producing products low in THC, but high in other psychoactive effects so they aren’t subject to THC regulations.
More cannabis-containing products will probably become available soon as well. CBD-infused beverages and THC beverages are already becoming increasingly popular, and even large corporations like the Coca-Cola company are considering creating CBD-based soda products. Edibles are also increasing in popularity, and CBD edibles are becoming more widely available thanks to retailers not usually considered cannabis businesses. Still, the marijuana flower itself is likely to remain the dominant cannabis product for the foreseeable future.
Craft Cannabis Products
Craft products have also come into higher demand recently. As the availability of cannabis products becomes more widespread, increasingly refined consumers will seek out cannabis brands marketed to the connoisseur, in much the same way that they did during the craft beer boom of the last few decades.
When a wide variety of cannabis products becomes available and consumers have more choice, educated consumers are no longer satisfied with the most readily available cannabis products. They want something that was created ethically, with thought and care given toward taste, branding, and status. One other positive thing about the craft cannabis movement is that craft cannabis companies are small businesses. These boutique brands can particularly do well with cannabis PR because it puts them alongside top cannabis brands and highlights their differentiations well.
Delivery and Drive-thru Transactions
Curbside and delivery options have become the norm in the era of COVID-19, and this trend may continue after the pandemic ends due to the convenience it provides consumers. While many consumers will enjoy the return of in-store shopping and the interactive experience it provides, other consumers will continue to expect the ease and comfort provided by a less involved buying process.
More, and More Diverse, Customers
As cannabis products become more mainstream, their use will likely become popular with people who had never been regular cannabis consumers in the past. Cannabis is also likely to shed some of the seedier stereotypes that some people associate with its use, as it becomes less and less of a taboo. We’ve already seen pushes for diversity, with the introduction of LGBTQAI+ Pride Month products, and programs in New York and Virginia that embed social equity programs into their legalization rollouts.
More doctors will recommend—and will be legally able to prescribe—medical marijuana as a treatment for certain medical conditions. Medical marijuana is already legal in 36 states and several territories, making holdouts increasingly the odd ones out.
Increased Cannabis Retail Sales
As more and more states fully legalize cannabis, and others seem on a path toward legalization in the near future, cannabis sales will continue to skyrocket. More consumers will become aware of the benefits of the various compounds in cannabis, and as we inch closer to federal legalization, the cannabis industry may grow exponentially.
Job Drug Testing Will Decrease
Amazon announced in the summer of 2021 that they would no longer test applicants for marijuana during the hiring process. They also threw their support behind marijuana legalization. Due to Amazon’s market power, it makes sense that other companies will take note and follow Amazon’s lead on the issue.
As cannabis has become legal and widely available in many states across the country, it has forced us as a society to have important conversations about the number of individuals, particularly individuals of color, who have been incarcerated as a result of the decades-long “War on Drugs.”
As access to cannabis increases across the United States, many states are enacting social equity initiatives with the goal of reversing the harm done to individuals who were punished for something that is now perfectly legal and widely used, and steering income to the communities that these policies devastated.
The Legalization Movement
The movement toward legalization is continuing to grow in 2021. Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Vermont and Virginia have all legalized cannabis since the beginning of 2020, and more are likely to follow or risk losing out on the tax income that legal cannabis provides.
With the vast majority of Americans supporting federal legalization of cannabis, it’s clear that the movement will only continue to grow and that federal cannabis legalization may not be far off. Additionally, several other states have recently decriminalized recreational consumption of cannabis, which historically has been the first step towards legalization.
As demand soars and the movement toward legalization gains more and more support, the cannabis industry will continue to grow at a prodigious pace. If you are thinking of getting into the market or are trying to grow your cannabis business, our top cannabis PR agency has the knowledge and resources you need to stay ahead of emerging trends, help you stand out from the competition, and achieve your business goals.