At the start of each year, experts and insiders across virtually every industry come out with their predictions of what trends are going to have the largest influence over the next 12 months — and the cannabis industry is no different.
But now that June is officially upon us and we're halfway through the year, what 2019 cannabis trends have actually come to fruition?
CBD is Everywhere and in Everything
Most experts agreed that cannabidiol (CBD) trends would only increase in popularity in 2019, both in dispensaries and among over-the-counter (OTC) retailers — and that has definitely been the case. “Clearly, the biggest trend is CBD, now mainstreamed in all manner of products,” said Daniel Levine, trends expert and director of global trends consultancy the Avant-Guide Institute.
In addition to more well-known cannabis products like edibles, 2019 has seen the CBD trend spread to a number of other product categories, including beauty, sun protection, and foods and beverages — and while CBD is exploding now, the potential for the future looks even more promising.
“With the passing of the Farm Bill and implementation of hemp programs on a state level throughout the U.S., we, of course, expect the explosion and popularity of CBD hemp products to only continue,” said Laura Bianchi, a cannabis attorney and business strategist.
Cannabis Branding is More Important Than Ever
Today's cannabis industry is more competitive than ever. And in order to break through the clutter and grab their ideal customer's attention, experts predicted that 2019 would see an increased interest in cannabis branding — a trend that has proven to be not only true, but quickly become a must for companies to stand out in today's increasingly cutthroat cannabis market.
“A big trend we're seeing is the scaling and geographic expansion of multistate license holding cannabis-businesses,” Bianchi said. “More and more companies are coming onto the scene, working to establish brands and looking to expand to new markets.”
A Variety of Products for a Variety of Consumers
As many experts predicted, 2019 saw an increased variety of products, technology, and consumption methods to cater to the wide variety of today's cannabis consumers, from the growing baby boomer market to the more conservative cannabis consumer looking for lower-dosed products.
An example of this increase in product types is the “microdose” market that includes low-dose, discreet cannabis products such as capsules, sublinguals, and tinctures. Forbes contributor Sara Brittany Somerset reported that in May 2019 and based on data from Headset, that the total “microdose market grew over 80% across recreational sales in California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington” and “sales in the capsule and tincture and sublingual categories rose 125% and 250% in sales, respectively.”
And as more types of consumers start exploring legal cannabis, the industry will likely see an even increased interest in innovation and catering to specific sectors of the market.
“The methods for consumption of cannabis continue to evolve as the industry releases new technology and methods of consumption that meet a wide variety of consumer needs,” Bianchi said.
Looking Ahead to the Second Half of 2019 (and Beyond)
Clearly, many of the trends that were predicted to be big this year have proven true. But what trends might be in store for the rest of 2019 (and beyond)?
“As cannabis-based businesses continue to scale and expand into new markets, I have no doubt we will see even greater growth in the investment of significant capital and the formation of more strategic partnerships,” Bianchi said.
“We will see more cannabis branding and more celebrity partnership,” Levine said. “Good recent examples of this include the Chelsea Handler's tie-up with NorCal Cannabis and iAnthus debuting its national brand, Be.”
Feature image from Alex Person/Unsplash