The biggest cannabis business convention came and went last week. And it made a lot clear, particularly in trends. So, what are the biggest cannabis industry trends currently going on according to MJBizCon? Read on to find out where the money grabs are in the legal world of weed.
What is MJBizCon?
If that word looks strange to you (and maybe a little familiar), let me explain what it is. MJBizCon is a cannabis convention that’s put on every year by the Colorado-based publication Marijuana Business Daily, AKA MJBizDaily. If you read a lot about the weed industry, you’ve probably come across plenty of their articles.
In 2012, this publication launched the first Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, which we lovingly refer to as MJBizCon. The convention serves as a national trade show for businesses within the legal cannabis industry. This is an important note to make, because for the most part, it rules out gray market areas like the cannabinoid industry, which offers us synthetics in the form of delta-8 and HHC, among others. Right now, MJBizCon is considered the largest business trade show of the legal industry.
Every year, the business end of the cannabis space gathers in Las Vegas, so new connections can be made, new products and services put on display, and for the general public to get a gander at what’s out there. Complete with after parties, and big names like Mike Tyson, MJBizCon has become a popular event for anyone related to the world of weed.
The public is also allowed in this trade show, and the ability to be first in line to see what’s new, and for special convention deals, brings in those unrelated to the business world. Overall, it’s like one big weed party that we all get to play at. And regardless of whether you make a big purchase, or get a good new business connection, you’re sure to walk away with some interesting goodies and samples to try.
Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: Cultivation
Now, technically, as a business convention, MJBizCon leans more toward a B2B experience, and less towards B2C. In that sense, its great for seeing how businesses are trying to make money in the industry. The cannabis market is still relatively new, and still getting its footing, and those eager to make a buck tend to gravitate toward where they think its possible. There are a lot of issues with the industry, and it not performing to original expectations. These trends show where operators are focusing within the legal industry, to make money.
The biggest trend was in cultivation. However this is an interesting concept because of what it implies. Cultivation itself comes with the issue of overproduction, something that can devalue a product simply by having too much of it. Cannabis prices have plummeted all over the place because of this issue, so it stands to reason that much of what is offered in the realm of cultivation, is geared not just toward large-scale growing, but towards individual cultivators as well.
This was made clear when I picked up a sample of GrowSafe Bio-Pesticide. Sure, the product is technically made for large-scale production, but the exhibitors were quick to throw in how their product can be safely used by any home-grower (and for that matter, with more crops than just cannabis).
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Cultivation might be key to the industry in general, but part of what makes cultivation products a big trend, is that cultivation equipment, especially when it comes to certain products like natural pesticides and lights, can be marketed to home-growers as well; who make up a big, and growing, part of the industry. For that reason, cultivation products, from lights to organic pesticide to growing chambers, should remain popular as they relate to both the mass production side, and the individual production side.
Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: rolling papers and vapes
I’m putting these together because it’s almost funny how opposite they are. One represents the standard way of smoking, and one, the newer healthier option. I should clarify though, when I say vapes, I mean oil vapes. And what this really means, is the batteries used to power the carts, and the carts as well. One growing (but still small) trend related to the carts specifically, is reusable cartridges, which will hopefully become an even bigger trend in the future.
While dry herb vapes were represented by companies like Storz and Bickel, (bigger names that have remained through time), the mass showing at the convention was for the newer oil version. Here there are less established names ruling the roost, and more way to gain entry; though with much competition, as evidenced by the convention.
They came in all shapes, colors, and sizes, with nearly every company advertising a square-shaped design; something they all seemed to think they cornered the market with. They also all do about the same thing. In fact, whereas it used to be easier to find better batteries with temperature control, now they’re all simpler models that don’t allow for such precision. There was very little difference between products, but an obvious desire to capitalize on the vape trend.
Conversely, rolling papers were also all the rage, and this was the case last year as well, and for good reason. Most people still roll joints. They’re offered with and without filters, as pre-roll cones, as blunt wraps, with and without flavors (advertised as terpene infused, but tasting like synthetic chemicals), and in a variety of sizes. Most were about the same, while some, like the company High Tea, offered products like blunt papers made of tea leaves with no tobacco, nicotine, or hemp involved. Much like with vapes, aside from companies like High Tea, there wasn’t a massive difference between products for the most part. Most were white-label products with different branding, which itself, was quite a trend this year.
Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: white label products
It seems the next big money grab in the legal cannabis industry, is in white labeling and branding. White labeling is when a product is made by a manufacturer, which can be individually branded as per a company. This means many companies are selling the exact same product, but with their own individual labeling. It’s very common in many industries. Tons of products you use that you thought were specific to a brand name, are likely white labeled products that a brand name was simply stuck on.
In the case of the weed industry, tons of white-labeling and branding services were offered. Whether you want to sell your own line of rolling papers or vapes, get sweatshirts with your logo, or whatever else, there are about a million companies that want to help you by providing a generic product to use as your own.
I find white-labeling a bit sad. It’s outright saying that we can expect companies to no longer come up with and market their own products. And it exemplifies the idea of a money grab. Rather than come up with inventive ideas, companies just use the model out there, and slap their label on it. The whole reason all those vapes look exactly the same? Because they are. They come from just a few manufacturers, and then get used by every emerging company looking to get in the industry. But such is the standard today for big business. The brand you love most, is sometimes no different then the product next to it on a shelf.
With all the issues in the cannabis industry, and the difficulty in making money, it’s not shocking that companies will reach for whatever they can. And with the industry being a bit flimsy in some cases, this means not putting in more money than necessary. White-labeling a product gets a company out of the R&D of making a product, and the testing, and ensuring that it meets standards. But it also means that everything we’re sold is the same.
This is truly one of the break off points between many high quality and low quality companies and products. Those actually in it to get you something good, or that offer something specialized or different, are the ones putting in the money to make it happen. It says a lot for the market in general that this emerging cannabis trend is one that generalizes the entire industry.
Last year I remember seeing several companies doing custom gummy molds, or offering products to neutralize smoke in the air. I saw less – or none – of that this year. Cannabis trends tend to come and go depending on where its thought a profit is possible, and if there isn’t one, the trend disappears. Vapes have grown (square is in), papers will likely always be big (now flavored with terpenes and/or chemicals), white-labeling is all the rage, and cultivation is key for its industrial and personal appeal. What new trends will pop up next year? We’ll have to wait and see.
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