Thanks to recent updates in cannabis regulations, business opportunities are exploding for retailers selling related accessories like Vape Pens, E-Juice, lighters — and even Gifts, Novelties, and Fashion Accessories. Smoke & Vape has officially gone mainstream. Here are the cannabis-related opportunities for retailers in every industry.
We’re not blowing smoke: cannabis’s reputation is turning over a new retail leaf. Last year, Forbes declared legal marijuana to be the fastest-growing industry in the United States — and not just dispensaries and smoke & vape shops. The megatrend is exploding everywhere from gifts & novelties to fashion accessories.
Cannabis-themed products of all kinds are driving retail sales across the U.S. at an explosive rate. Your trade show visits and buying trips should reflect this accordingly.
According to luxury fashion news site Business of Fashion:
“Just as flasks and cigarette cases have had designer makeovers in the past, it’s likely that pro-cannabis fashion brands will begin to create paraphernalia of their own (if they haven’t already). But if pot tchotchke is akin to a fashion house’s entry-level accessories, the marijuana itself is equivalent to a cash-cow fragrance.”
The trickle-down effect to high-margin merchandise of all kinds is inevitable.
Recent moves in the cannabis industry point to how the times they are a changin’: there are currently twenty-six states that have legalized marijuana in some form. Seven of those states, (and the District of Columbia) have adopted laws legalizing the use of the drug for recreational use; several other states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, or have broadened the list of conditions associated with medical marijuana.
Let’s be honest: it also helps that weed plays a central role in popular shows like Broad City and the more recent HBO series, High Maintenance. It’s amazing to think how far cannabis has come as a mainstream phenomenon from when Weeds premiered on Showtime, more than ten years ago!
The iconic Hollywood sign even got a makeover early this year when a prankster updated the letters to read “Hollyweed” (swapping out the O’s for E’s), as a nod to the recent passage of Proposition 64.
Want to start adding Smoke & Vape wholesale merchandise and accessories to your shop or site? Get your free ticket to ASD Market Week here.
According to Bloomberg, the domestic legal cannabis market will reach $50 billion by 2026, expanding to more than eight times its current size.
But because cannabis isn’t legal on a federal level just yet, it’s mostly small businesses who are taking on the trend of the toke. Big companies are wary of selling products that are still not regulated and dealing with the challenges of being in a semi-legal industry.
We spoke to Eric Logan of Equity Rock Inc., a merchant banking and investment firm based out of Portland, Oregon and specializing in data and finance for emerging and highly-regulated industries, about some of the trends to watch for in the growing cannabis industry. He says marketing cannabis remains a challenge because you still can’t use traditional media unless it’s for medicinal values. As a result, there aren’t huge players—at least not yet.
We also spoke with Emily Paxhia, Managing Director at Poseidon Asset Management, an investment management company founded in 2013 that invests exclusively in the cannabis industry, about this emerging market:
“Many stores are now starting to focus on merchandising different products and how this can improve their sales. There will likely be new consumers who have not ever visited a cannabis retail location—they will be seeking easy information and a comfortable experience. Preparing for these patients and consumers will be in the best interest of retailers.”
What this Means for Your Accessories Business: Products You Need to Carry
According to Paxhia, the growth of the cannabis industry means that the market opportunity is increasing: “There are many new market segments of consumers and product categories unlocking,” she says, “but this also means that the consumers are going to be seeking specific retail experiences.”
So let’s talk about canna-business: the merchandising and crossover buying opportunities for indie retailers.
Rolling papers: They might seem basic, but these traditional tools now come in wide varieties, shapes, and sizes. Shine Papers are super flashy papers made from high-quality edible gold, and are not only glam but make for a great way to spark a conversation! From flavored papers to a more incognito option with Urban Wraps, which feature a printed design that mimics the look of cigarettes, there’s an endless supply of rolling paper options.
Garden Supplies: Logan emphasized the spike in garden supplies, and the cannabis-centric site MerryJane underscores “Personal Home Grow Solutions” among the top trends shaping the cannabis industry in 2017.
Cannador: Ideal for storage of cannabis at proper temperatures while regulating humidity, Cannadors can also be considered decorative as they double as statement pieces for your desk or dresser.
Accuvape Pens: There’s the solid concentrate pen, the C.Stick, as well as Accuvape’s Dragon Dry Herb Vaporizer (which is one of the most popular for private labeling). Interestingly, Accuvape produces videos that appeal to new users who appreciate the pens’ sleek design, which easily fits into the palm of the hand.
Edibles: “Other trends we are seeing is the drive to ‘micro-dosing’ at less than 5 mg of THC per serving and keeping that easy and consistent,” explains Paxhia. “Brands that do that well are seeing an uptick in interest. Terra Bites from Kiva or the Savory Pretzels from Auntie Dolores are a great example of this.”
Cannabis-inspired Gifts, Novelties, and Souvenirs
Stores that are in “legal” states and non-legal states need to take advantage of the mainstreaming of this trend and add Cannabis-themed gift, novelties, and souvenirs to their product mix. Smoke-themed accessories are not just for head shops anymore. This includes mugs, stationery, greeting cards, board games, pins and even socks – and that’s just the beginning.
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For the Ladies
In addition to traditional cannabis-associated swag, female-centric weed accessories are also making their mark.
According to Logan of Equity Rock Inc., this likely has to do with the efforts surrounding normalizing cannabis; weed is moving away from its reputation as an activity for stoners, to the chill-out activity of soccer moms. This narrative is helping people see that it can be an alternative to Pinot Grigio for “taking the edge off after a long day.”
And it helps that there are “glam” spin-off products, like the following cannabis accessories geared to women:
Bags and cases:These “portable options” for carrying include stealth clutches, cosmetics cases, and cross-body purses, like the sleek “stash bags” made by AnnaBis. They are designed to keep your weed at the right temp, while containing the scent thanks to its Aroma-Bloc Technology.
Blinged-up pipe cleaners and grinders: Logan has spotted pipe cleaners adorned with Swarovski crystals, 14K gold necklaces and chains, and even “incognito” grinders that look like mascara wands.
“The female market is starting to get more attention,” says Paxhia, which means “fitting into the way women organize and travel with their products. There’s a lot of space for continued innovation around accessories to keep cannabis neat and organized while maintaining a sophisticated aesthetic.”
Cannabis in the News
One look at the publications talking about cannabis will also indicate how mainstream it has become. Fashion and lifestyle publications like Coveteur and Goop, as well as Bloomberg and Inc., are discussing the rise of women in the industry, pointing to the changing perception of weed. Digiday recently published a piece about a California-based ad agency with half a dozen clients in different aspects of the marijuana industry.
Even Teen Vogue announced that Massachusetts was the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana, which is surprising due to the magazine’s younger — yet highly savvy — demographic.
Female celebrities are also trying to cash in on the cannabis trend: from Bethenny Frankel of “Skinnygirl” alcohol and food products fame to Rose McGowan and even Whoopi Goldberg, who recently launched a line of cannabis to treat PMS pain.
These efforts are helping cannabis become more mainstream, less stigmatized, and potentially at the forefront of an emerging culture and lifestyle trend.
Online destinations like Women Grow — a female-led movement supporting the leading ladies doing everything from growing weed and marketing it to working in venture capital firms investing in the cannabis industry — are also making their mark on cannabis culture as a lifestyle and as a movement.
Embracing this new emerging market can lead to high times for indie retailers everywhere, no matter where you live. So make sure to stay in the know, and perhaps your business will grow like…weeds!
Want to fill your shop with the coolest cannabis-inspired products? Get in touch with these vendors at ASD Market Week, March 19 – 22 in Las Vegas!
Streamline Inc. – Booth #N1738
Grind Distribution Inc / KushPapers – Booth #SL3411
Global Tobacco LLC – Booth #SL3757