The Future of the Cannabis Pre-Roll Industry

Pre-rolls have proven to be one of the most resilient product categories in the cannabi...

The Future of the Cannabis Pre-Roll Industry

Pre-rolls have proven to be one of the most resilient product categories in the cannabis industry. Despite the rapid pace of innovation in the cannabis industry, which has led to a proliferation of new products, pre-rolls continue to be a mainstay for retail cannabis businesses. 

A number of factors contribute to the continued growth of the cannabis pre-roll market, including the ease and convenience of consuming pre-rolls, a shifting perspective and understanding of pre-rolls at the retail level, and changing consumer preferences throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sana Packaging currently produces five different pre-roll tubes that are different sizes and made from different materials. Two are made from 100% plant-based hemp plastic and three are made from 100% ocean-bound and reclaimed ocean plastic.

Last year, we launched our third pre-roll tube made from 100% ocean-bound and reclaimed ocean plastic: the Sana Ocean Tube 116.

The Sana Ocean Tube 116 features a familiar child-resistant pop-top design and is 116mm in length. Made from ocean-bound and reclaimed ocean polypropylene (PP), the Sana Ocean Tube 116 is recyclable, made in the USA, and perfect for packaging king-size pre-rolls, blunts, and vape pens.  

This blog post is a follow up to last week’s exploration of the current state of the cannabis pre-roll industry, which highlighted key growth statistics and trends. This week, we will analyze these trends and explore their potential implications for the future of cannabis pre-rolls.

Pre-Roll Market Analysis

Why has the pre-roll market experienced such sustained growth over the last decade, and what does the future of the pre-roll market look like?

Ease, Convenience, and Accessibility

For many cannabis consumers the accessibility of the pre-roll product category, the convenience of purchasing pre-rolls, and the ease of consuming pre-rolls are what drive repeat purchases. 

Whether you’re a cannabis newcomer or a seasoned cannabis veteran, it’s hard to beat the ease and convenience of purchasing a ready-to-consume product like a pre-rolled joint.  

Furthermore, with single pre-rolls costing as little as $2 and 2-packs ranging between $5-$15, picking up a few pre-rolled joints is a low cost commitment. Pre-rolls are also a low-cost opportunity for consumers to try different strains before committing to a larger purchase. 

Narmin Jarrous, the Chief Development Officer of Michigan’s first licensed cannabis dispensary, Exclusive Brands, perfectly captured the essence of pre-rolls when she told MJBizDaily that purchasing a pre-roll is “like buying a slice of cake versus buying a whole cake.”

Shifting Perspectives of Consumers and Retailers 

Cannabis businesses have caught on to the lasting popularity of cannabis pre-rolls and implemented changes to make this product category even more appealing to consumers. 

Traditionally, the cannabis industry has used pre-rolls as a way to move excess product or monetize what’s known as “shake” and “trim.” While this still remains true, the cannabis industry has also come to view pre-rolls as a potentially premium product category. 

Many cannabis brands and retailers are now using high-quality flower and hash for their pre-rolls or hand-rolling their pre-rolls (or both) to create a more premium product and elevated consumer experience. 

Cannabis businesses have also taken notice of shifting consumer behaviors throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. During the height of spring and winter COVID-19 surges in 2020, cannabis consumers were less likely to purchase products geared towards sharing. 

As a result, the cannabis pre-roll industry shifted its focus to mini pre-rolls - also known as “dog walkers” - and pre-roll multi-packs. 

The shift to mini pre-rolls offered cannabis consumers the same tried and true convenience of the more traditional “king size” pre-rolls without the emphasis on sharing. Meanwhile, the shift to pre-roll multi-packs offered cannabis consumers the opportunity to stock up on larger quantities of pre-rolls during the COVID-19 lockdowns. 

Implications for the Future 

There is little reason to doubt that pre-rolls will continue to be one of the cannabis industry’s most resilient product categories. 

According to MJBizDaily, pre-roll sales jumped from $640.1 million in 2019 to $941.6 million in 2020 (a 47.1% increase) across several key markets including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and California.

The fact that this growth occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, when there were no live events or large gatherings, is a strong indicator that pre-rolls are here to stay. 

Pre-Roll Innovations

In addition to current innovations like mini pre-rolls and multi-packs, the pre-roll market is ripe for continuing future innovations.

Ganjapreneur predicts that “the pre-roll manufacturing process will soon become fully-automated, eliminating the need to manually weigh, twist, and package pre-rolls.”

Pre-rolls have traditionally been labor intensive products to manufacture. However, like in most industries, automation is making its way into cannabis. And while some brands are likely to stick with hand-rolling as a product and marketing differentiator, there is no doubt that manufacturing pre-rolls is on its way to becoming a heavily automated process.

As the capacity, efficiency, and output of trim machines and auto-pack pre-roll machines continues to increase, we can expect larger and larger volumes of pre-roll sales.

New Market Appeal

Not to belabor this point, which was well covered in last week’s blog post, but pre-rolls have always volume movers in newer cannabis markets. 

And while seasoned consumers and cannabis aficionados are becoming a larger segment of the pre-roll market, newer consumers will remain the bread and butter of the pre-roll industry as new markets continue to open. 

Differentiation Through Sustainability

Brand and product differentiation has always been important and the cannabis industry is only going to become more competitive, making brand and product differentiation more important than ever. 

Sustainable packaging is one of the best ways to make your products stand out at the retail level and communicate your company values to potential customers. 

Contact us if you’re ready to discover the real impact your packaging has on the environment and you’re ready to build a long-term relationship with a cannabis packaging supplier you can trust. It all starts with a conversation!