The High-end Marijuana Market: An Initial, Survey-Based Report

Simply a couple of brief years earlier, the idea of high-end may have appeared entirely incompatible with marijuana‘s dank visual and anti-establishment roots. Yet today, as commercialization strips the plant of its long time cultural context and repackages it for brand-new customers, high-end marijuana has actually shown up. Partnerships in between Edie Parker and MedMen, and Barneys New york city opening a luxe devices emporium, are huge public relations minutes not just for the shops however likewise for the market. However far from these big-ticket crossovers, there are ratings of genuine marijuana companies contending to bring overindulgence to the experience of getting high.

Of all the classifications in the market, at this minute couple of appearance as precarious as high-end. The worldwide high-end items market diminished by 23 percent in 2020. Marijuana mainly has actually been spared ravaging contractions, however that does not imply customers aren’t rapidly reprioritizing and identifying worth in a different way.


As more states legislate marijuana and California enters its 3rd year of leisure usage in the middle of a worldwide economic downturn, numerous concerns develop. What remains in shop for the high-end marijuana classification? Is it offering customers what they truly desire? Should high-end companies be preparing to hedge additional down-market?

To respond to those concerns, we will avoid the fancy tricks and look particularly at marijuana consumable brand names and merchants that have actually staked out an upscale area of the marketplace made up of customers prepared to invest additional, regularly, on something unique. We spoke with 9 marijuana market executives from the retail, brand name, and analytics sectors and commissioned a 1,000-person nationwide online study to get genuine customer viewpoint and actionable insight.

However initially, we should specify “high-end.” There is an unique distinction in between high-end and premium, and the difference is important in the marijuana consumables classification. Premium implies high quality driving high rate and therefore developing high worth. High-end is subtler and the worth more nontransparent. High-end definitely shares a connection in between high quality and a high– typically extreme– cost. However the term likewise recommends exclusivity and extravagance, with items obtaining intangible worth from the impact they put in on customers’ self-image and public understanding. This makes high-end especially subjective, challenging to categorize, and therefore challenging to determine.

” Specifying ‘high-end’ in the legal marijuana classification is really tough,” stated Kelly E. Nielsen, vice president of analytics and insights at BDSA (previously BDS Analytics). “In alcohol, rate is almost constantly a sign of premium and high-end. Take a classification like scotch, where rates can vary from under $20 to countless dollars per bottle.

” The legal marijuana area is a lot more nuanced, since rate by itself can be deceptive,” Nielsen continued. “It’s constantly essential to take a look at the mix of rate and milligram material in addition to verifying the brand name intends to raise the user experience and fit with a high-end way of life through positioning, product packaging, and item advantages used.”

According to BDSA, this trio of upper-tier market positioning, raised discussion, and clear item advantages can ensconce a premium item in the high-end classification. However what function does shortage– generally a reputable chauffeur of the understanding of high-end– play in the marijuana consumables market?

Take Napalm‘s ultra-exclusive $150 pre-roll housed in a glass grenade, or an unique Cookies pressure like Cheetah Piss, which may see lines around the block when it drops. Could either be thought about “high-end?” On paper, they are special, limited items that command relatively high cost, are of undeniable quality, and when it comes to Napalm, have “raised” product packaging. Premium yes, though couple of would argue they are high-end products.

California flower brand name Canndescent, on the other hand, has undeniable high-end qualifications, minus shortage and exclusivity. Offered in around half the shops in the state, the brand name is amongst the most extensively readily available and discovered its competitive measurement versus the similarity Jungle Kids and LA Kush in consistency instead of novelty.

” It’s everything about consistency with time,” stated Adrian Sedlin, Canndescent’s creator and ceo. “If you fell for among our offerings, it’s constantly going to be there for you, and to precisely the exact same consistency in quality each and every time.”

Prior to releasing in 2015, Sedlin recognized the wealthy city expert as a significant brand-new customer group cresting over the horizon. He thought members of that friend might be presented to the plant by the ideal brand name that provided quality with a discreet elegance. When Canndescent debuted with its stylish terracotta product packaging and elaborate serif typeface, the brand name ended up being the only yard acceptable to pass at a Malibu garden celebration.

An important element of the business’s outreach to the Malibu garden celebration crowd was to leader effect-based SKU classification (Cruise, Develop, Calm, and so on). This assisted Canndescent interact clear expectations to an audience indifferent to– and typically delayed by– the previous generation of infamously lively pressure names, and puzzled by the progressively unimportant indica/sativa classification. The method has actually been embraced by other brand names and shops and has actually shown an exceptionally reliable interaction bridge for all brand-new customers, not simply those in the upper end of the marketplace.

While Canndescent is the most noticeable of the high-end brand names, a great deal of smaller sized gamers are checking out specific niche offerings and defending market share. After Kiva‘s exceptionally effective instilled chocolate set a high bar for elegant edibles, brand names like Défoncé, Coda Signature, and 1906 did the same. In the vape classification, Beboe, Flower Farms, and Stiiizy acknowledged hardware might be a style device, while the once-spluttering drink classification now has Italian-style apéritifs and weed white wine.

Although a tidy meaning stays evasive, high-end brand names share a handful of crucial qualities: They offer premium items, in regards to both rate and quality; they show advanced product packaging and aspirational marketing security; they attract the desire to be viewed as cool, refined, or just abundant.

However beyond rate and quality, are high-end intangibles truly that essential?

” We discovered customers were really clear that they aren’t thinking about items that make claims about being high-end for approximate factors,” stated Adriana Hemans, director of need and unique tasks for SoapBoxSample, an online marketing research company that collects customer insights for a range of markets, consisting of marijuana. “They have an interest in items that can show a particular advantage to investing more.”

mg Publication commissioned SoapBoxSample to survey 1,000 customers who had actually bought marijuana in the previous 3 months in a quote to comprehend what encourages their purchasing choices. In addition, the study looked for to gage high-end customers’ associations, prejudgments, and problems when it concerns the item classification.

Participants were uniformly divided in between male and female marijuana users age 21 and older from forty-eight states (leaving out South Dakota and Ohio) with 30 percent self-reporting their yearly home earnings as $100,000 or more. Eighty-five percent of those surveyed take in marijuana a minimum of when each week, with 42 percent stating they had actually bought a high-end marijuana item in the previous twelve months. The study occurred November 10 through 20, 2020, and the outcomes bear a 95-percent self-confidence level.

At every chance, those surveyed repeated quality is crucial. When asked to recognize and rank their main incentives for picking a marijuana item, quality was referenced by 92 percent of participants, with effectiveness (which for a subset of the worldwide marijuana neighborhood is a synonym for quality) being available in at 85 percent. Cost was the 5th crucial incentive (73 percent). Understanding of “high-end or high-end” was referenced by just 45 percent, while raised product packaging and branding tracked additional (36 percent), wielding a greater impact over males than ladies.

Of those who invest more than $250 each month on marijuana consumables, 92 percent suggested quality was really essential or very essential when it concerns picking items. This recommends the item itself drives acquiring options amongst big-spending purchasers.

When asked to choose from a range of reasons that they may acquire a high-end marijuana item, over half (52 percent) stated they desire the greatest quality active ingredients. Nearly one 3rd (32 percent) suggested they acquire high-end items since they are worthy of the very best. Remarkably, 25 percent of males, compared to simply 9 percent of ladies, stated they would purchase a high-end item to “look cool” (although a various adjective may have generated a various action).

Millennials and Gen Z– the group Headset anticipates quickly will make up 3 quarters of the marketplace– are the most price-sensitive and are making every effort to discover the sweet area in between quality and rate. Really couple of customers older than 55 think about things like product packaging or brand name acknowledgment essential. This group is encouraged primarily by quality.

” Something we can draw from this study is that customers are very smart,” Hemans stated. “If they are being asked to pay additional, they would like to know what they are spending for.”

How merchants are welcoming high-end

The development from run down green-cross stores to the temples of luxury that grace mg‘s pages monthly is amongst the starkest signs of how the market is growing. To be a high-end merchant, shops require 4 things: boutique-inspired interior decoration, exceptional service, deliberate item choice, and an upscale regional client base lured by the understanding of high-end.

Found in the rich Forest Hills community of Los Angeles, Atrium is setting a brand-new requirement for shop dispensaries. The open floorplan is bathed in natural light, and glass show cases suitable for diamonds are framed by merchandised racks from which stylish brand names beckon the well-off. Around the shop, engaged budtenders patiently stroll Atrium’s high-net-worth consumers through branded modules, zeroing in on their requirements and matching them with a choice from a menu bearing more than 2,800 SKUs.

” Our common client is relatively rich and is seeking to have a pleasurable experience and to be able to speak to somebody versus entering into a normal store,” discussed Ty Mehra, the shop’s purchaser.

Atrium established an internal customer care system called VISITOR (welcome, comprehend, inform, offer, then evaluation) for brand-new consumers. Atrium’s clients consists of lots of celebs, a few of whom forgo their regional dispensaries and take a trip throughout Los Angeles simply to get the store’s unique service.

Synchronicity Holistic, another California dispensary that has actually stabilized perfect style and exceptional service, has actually been called the “Cartier of marijuana.” Valentia Valentine, the 66-year-old serial business owner who owns the luxurious $6 million shop in Carmel-by-the-Sea, has actually been dealing with numerous sclerosis considering that the late 1980s. Her experiences as a rich older female utilizing marijuana as medication assisted the shop to a special crossway of beauty and earnest health. Valentine bought working with a pharmacist and a personnel of qualified nurses to direct her primarily older, rich consumers towards items for particular health obstacles and conditions, with everyday follow-up care being an essential differentiator.

” Client care is definitely critical for me,” Valentine stated. “Whatever else follows that. When individuals feel taken care of, they return.”

A curious pattern has actually established: brand names crossing over into retail, with dosist possibly the only operation bordering on “high-end.” Most likely influenced by flagship shops coming from brand names like Hermès, dosist bought its own top quality shops in a quote to own the end-to-end experience of its item. As both of the business’s Los Angeles areas closed in 2020, we ‘d be remiss not to question the knowledge of a capital-intensive departure from what dosist does finest: making high-end vapes.

Difficulties in the market

It would be simple and possibly misdirected to presume the pandemic-induced economic downturn will sound a death knell for high-end marijuana. If anything, lots of rich Americans appear poised to emerge from the crisis richer than they were when it started. Regardless, numerous significant obstacles deal with high-end brand names and merchants even in the very best of times.

If high-end has to do with a lot more than simply the item discussion (which customers appear to think), one continuous headache is the requirement to source, cultivate, and provide high-end at every touchpoint. The accomplishment is challenging enough in a recognized market under a growing economy. In a nascent, once-clandestine market with a patchwork of quickly established policies and a broad range of running requirements, accomplishing and preserving a luxury credibility can be grueling.

Canndescent’s Sedlin discussed his business bypassed a state-by-state growth since couple of markets might provide the end-to-end quality the brand name assured. Rather, Canndescent deepened its concentrate on California, holds on to the business’s core proficiencies (growing, circulation, discussion), and presented a set of lower-tier flower brand names: Great and Baker’s “It’s much better to begin at the high-performance end and go down-market,” Sedlin stated. “Nike constructed its credibility on establishing high-performance items for professional athletes prior to it made more available customer choices. In our case, we selected to establish alternative brand names that are absolutely different from Canndescent so we didn’t stain the name and high-end credibility prior to the majority of the [U.S.] market got to experience the item.”

The method, called “diffusion line,” frequently is utilized by couture style brand names (believe Armani Exchange) to expand their customer base and open brand-new earnings streams from existing sources. While the method worked for Canndescent, which is huge and well-capitalized, BDSA’s Nielsen alerted developing a diffusion line isn’t without its obstacles. “The further eliminated you are from your moms and dad brand name, the less most likely you are to be cannibalistic however the more difficult it is to utilize moms and dad brand-awareness or credibility.”

An obstacle special to flower brand names that overinvest in product packaging and underinvest in the item is lots of merchants choose to show buds in unbranded, amplified containers. In addition to aesthetic appeals, there’s a psychology-based sales method at work there: The strategy establishes customers to make choices based upon quality (trichomes, density, purple hairs particularly, according to some study participants), effectiveness, and rate without product packaging affecting the purchase.

However it’s important to keep in mind nearly all consumables on dispensary racks exist in their initial product packaging within reach of practically everybody who strolls through the door.

Let’s go back to Canndescent, whose eighths retail for around $60– by no ways low-cost, however competitively priced with much of the top-shelf flower in California and a sounded listed below ultra-premium brand names like Alien Labs and Linked “Let’s state you can get 4 joints that 5 individuals can take pleasure in together from a 8th. You have the ability to provide twenty user experiences for $60. It’s $3 for a first-rate, 2- to three-hour experience,” Sedlin stated. “It’s so affordable relative to the high-end deals with individuals invest their cash on.”

This gets to the heart of a challenging problem high-end marijuana business must browse: If rates are competitive, does the understanding something is economically out of reach turn prospective consumers away?

” We have actually been fighting the misunderstanding that we’re more pricey than everybody else considering that we opened our doors,” stated Paul Cotterell, basic supervisor at The Leaf El Paseo, a store dispensary in the toniest shopping district in Palm Desert, California. “Our rates are comparable and typically more affordable than a great deal of our rivals, however since of where we are and our discussion, we are viewed to be out of reach to some folks.”

The belief was echoed by some customers in SoapBoxSample’s study. When asked why they had actually not bought a high-end marijuana item, they reacted with responses like “To me, high-end implies it’s most likely something I can’t manage” or just “way too pricey.” Although a specific item or rate wasn’t specified, the understanding was “high-end discussion implies it runs out my reach.”

For high-end shops, keeping their rates competitive while constructing custom-made interiors and working with a greater quality of personnel slows the course to recovering the financial investment, especially when the brand-new customers they are attempting to bring in tend to go shopping less often.

” You can pursue these brand-new customers, however the truth is they comprise a considerably smaller sized part of where the cash’s originating from in this classification,” Nielsen warned.

Adjusting to a quickly altering market

Marijuana has actually been among the couple of financial success stories of the pandemic, however a great deal of customers are ending up being price-conscious and substantially more critical about where worth really lies. This is making high-end product’s je ne sais quoi appear less attracting, especially when you’re stuck at house without any one to impress.

The huge takeaway needs to be quality and rate are the most essential elements to the large bulk of marijuana customers.

High-end brand names need to concentrate on specifying where their consumers recognize quality (effectiveness, procedure, area, active ingredients, and so on) and plainly promote that element of their items. Product packaging still plays an essential function in providing the details and separating the brand name, however overdoing it can switch off prospective consumers, who might feel they can’t manage the rate– or even worse, believe they are spending for marketing at the expenditure of quality.

High-end merchants can stand apart by including worth in a manner others do not. Atrium’s extraordinary customer care and substantial menu have actually made the store a location for the upper crust in Los Angeles County. Along with being among the most perfectly developed dispensaries in the nation, Synchronicity has actually discovered a dedicated audience by purchasing health experts and client care.

Like high-end brand names, high-end shops likewise need to know the method they provide themselves might ward off individuals. Some customers view interior decoration, like product packaging, represents a costs they should foot on top of item expenses, which currently consist of branding expenditure (which’s to state absolutely nothing of taxes).

However possibly we’re missing out on the point. Maybe high-end, by its very nature, need to leave out more individuals than it invites. If everybody can have something, is it truly a high-end product? And if this mystical intangible worth is expected to prevent those who focus on concrete worth, then all might be working as meant and there’s absolutely nothing to see here.

With rates mainly topped and the customers drawn to high-end experiences appearing to invest at much lower frequency, does high-end’s low-volume, high-margin method develop practical companies in a hyper-competitive market like marijuana?

Maybe the essential year ahead– with the pandemic beat and financial healing in procedure– will offer more clearness.

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