California Cannabis: Analyzing Shifting Consumer Trends In The Golden State

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Anchorage, Alaska/United States – 09/02/2019: A display of different strains of cannabis in Tundra Herb Company, a dispensary.

Each year, the cannabis industry attracts new entrepreneurs and businesses because of its immense potential for growth. By 2025, the total annual United States cannabis market has the ability to generate $45.8 billion. Within the projected U.S. market, states such as New Jersey, Florida, New York, Ohio and Virginia are expected to emerge as leaders in the growing cannabis landscape. In preparation, cannabis businesses continue to enter these markets and build for the future. While it is important to look ahead, industry leaders must remain aware of the changing trends in states that have already fortified strong cannabis industries. Currently, California is home to the largest U.S. cannabis market by sales and consumers are rapidly shifting their purchasing habits within the Golden State. With that in mind, industry leaders should remain up to date on the needs of California consumers and examine where the marketplace could be headed next.

Examining Falling Flower Sales In The Golden State

The state of California generated $5 billion in sales last year and is on pace to do so again this year. However, the types of items that adult-use consumers purchase to generate these sales are changing. Most notably, there has been an evident decline in the sales share of Flower products. From June 2020 to May 2021, there has been a 3.8% decrease in the sales share of Flower products. More recently, there has been a 14.3% drop in Flower share from June 2021 to May 2022. Additionally, there has been an apparent decline in the sales of concentrates, tincture and sublingual products. From June 2021 to May 2022, there has been a 14.7% decline in the sales share of concentrates. During the same period, tincture and sublingual products experienced a 9.3% drop in sales. Given the sales decline in several areas, one question remains. If consumers in California are moving away from sublingual and tincture items, concentrates and flower products, what items are adult-use consumers purchasing?


Changing Consumer Habits In California

Adult-use customers in California have shifted their attention toward various emerging product categories within the last two years. From June 2020 through May 2022, the sales share of beverages, capsules, edibles, pre-rolls and vapor pens have grown noticeably. The overall sales share of infused beverages increased 43.2% from June 2020 through May 2021 and 19.8% between June 2021 and May 2022. The Pre-Roll category has also experienced pronounced growth, with sales shares increasing 22.8% from June 2020 to May 2021 and 21.6% from June 2021 to May 2022. Furthermore, the percentage of pre-roll baskets containing only pre-roll items has risen from 47.1% to 52.6% over the last 12 months. During the same period, the number of pre-roll baskets with flower products dropped by -21.8%. Ultimately, customers who purchase pre-rolls without including flower products in their baskets are contributing to the overall increase in Pre-Roll sales share while decreasing Flower sales across California.


California continues to be the largest cannabis market in the U.S. and draws the attention of businesses and consumers across the country. While the state’s overall sales are not expected to grow significantly this year, shifts in consumer trends are noteworthy. Increasing demand for pre-rolls, infused beverages, edibles, capsules and vapor pens highlights the consumers’ desire to try new products and expand their cannabis palate. Conversely, the decline of Flower sales can be the result of a rise in the sales of other products. Moving forward, cannabis businesses should monitor these trends and pivot to producing desired products as needed. If you’d like to learn more about shifting consumer trends in California or other legal markets or find opportunities in different product categories, please read the full report here.

Cy-Scott-Headset-bw-mg-Magazine-mgretailer Cy Scott is cofounder and chief executive officer at Headset Inc., which turns retail data into real-time market insights. Previously, he co-founded cannabis information network Leafly, obtained Kelly Blue Book’s first patent, and assisted TEN: The Enthusiast Network in transitioning publications including MotorTrend and Automobile from print to digital.