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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Many Cannabis Brands Launch, But Few Last Long

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New cannabis brands seemingly launch every day, but how many of those products stay on shelves depends on more than just seasonality.

A report by sale tracking firm Headset found that cannabis brands coming into the fold see “significantly” shorter lifecycles these days.

Headset analyzed distinct brand launches in the first month of every year since 2020 and whether those brands recorded a sale after the following December. The analysis did not include house brands or vertically integrated products.

Overall, around 17% of new U.S. cannabis products that launched in January 2022 managed to survive through the end of the year, reflecting a greater slowdown in overall consumer spending especially in mature markets.

Source: Headset.io

But trends aren’t monolithic across the cohort of markets. U.S. legacy markets show divergent trends when looking at brand survival rates in emerging U.S. markets and even Canadian markets.

“This context is important to understand when analyzing new product launches, which are very much a function of their own environment,” the report said.

Headset data showed that U.S. legacy markets have experienced a sales bell curve with declining growth in the last 18 months, as artificial demand cools off now and states deal with crowded supply sides. Annual new product count has decreased in those mature markets over the last two years, too.

The firm said that the downward trend will likely persist through 2023 as the market tries to figure out how many products it can accommodate.

At the same time, Canadian and U.S. emerging markets have experienced rising sales, “which closely relates to the growth rate in new products released over the last few years.”

The trend even holds in markets that are seeing price compression across retail offerings.

For example, cannabis data firm BDSA found that Missouri saw the number of active brands skyrocket nearly two-thirds in the first nine months of 2022, and revenue growth has continued despite average retail prices plummeting 40% since September 2021.

However, one category in mature markets stands isn’t doing so shabby. Only pre-rolls saw an increase in the launch of new products across mature markets.

“This is consistent with the category’s growing popularity among consumers, which brands have seen as an opportunity for investment and product innovation,” Headset wrote.

Market conditions, rather than seasonality, has dictated the timing of new cannabis brand launches.

In 2020, when U.S. legacy markets saw consumption spike due to the pandemic, sales hit their highest point in August that year, the same month that new product debuts also peaked. Nearly 57% of all new products hit the market between May and October.

“This differs from U.S. emerging markets and Canadian markets which have maintained steadier growth in sales and new product launches,” the firm said, where new products have been released mostly in the later halves of 2020 and 2021.

In emerging markets, new products launched at the start of 2020 benefited from first-to-market advantage with three of every four of those new products surviving through the year, the firm found.

Nearly 29% of those products are still on the market now. The number of new products showing up in stores rose “significantly” in 2021.

“As a result, the share of new products surviving 12 months dropped to 41.1% and then 17.2% in 2022, matching what we see for survivability in legacy markets.”

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