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The Rise of Cannabis Pre-rolls: Data Analysis Reveals Surging Popularity

Lemetria Whitehurst

by Lemetria Whitehurst

August 16, 2023 12:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
The Rise of Cannabis Pre-rolls: Data Analysis Reveals Surging Popularity

In the fast-paced, data-driven world of the cannabis industry, partnerships are crucial to success. This becomes clear with the recent collaboration between Custom Cones USA—a renowned authority in the cannabis field specializing in pre-rolls, packaging, and manufacturing solutions—and Headset, a company known for its expertise in cannabis data analysis.

They have co-published an insightful white paper, “The State of the Pre-Roll Industry,” which provides a comprehensive overview of the rising popularity and potential of pre-rolls

The document explores various aspects of the pre-roll industry, from sales trends to demographic preferences and production methodologies. Harrison Bard, the CEO and co-founder of Custom Cones USA, outlined this investigation’s objective. Bard explained:

“This white paper demonstrates the continued growth of the pre-roll industry and its potential to become the #1 largest product category within the cannabis industry. We thank our partners at Headset for collaborating on the white paper to provide a wealth of information that people can trust to make informed business decisions in our evolving marketplace.”

Turns out, his statements are backed up by thorough data analysis and insightful findings. Here are some of the findings of the research. 

Exploring the Upswing in Cannabis Category Sales

The findings were based on information obtained from a variety of more than 300 industry participants, including:

  • Producers of recreational and medical cannabis
  • Hemp cultivators
  • Vertically integrated brands 
  • Plant processors
  • Dispensaries
  • Cannabis brand agencies
  • Multi-state operators 

The study clearly illustrates a year-over-year increase in sales in both the United States and Canada from 2021-2022. This comparison shows a dramatic shift in consumer preferences within the cannabis sector. As a result, ‘recreational’ categories like pre-rolls, edibles, beverages, vapes, and oils are
seeing an upswing in market share

Conversely, “wellness” counterparts such as capsules, tinctures, and topicals are experiencing a decline in market share. This transition in favor of “recreational” categories could indicate shifting consumer tastes, highlighting the importance of staying up-to-date in this ever-evolving market.

Pre-Rolls Unwrapped: Unveiling Potency and Cost Dynamics

Canada saw infused pre-rolls soaring by an incredible 1,426% year-over-year, with mixed strain joints and disposable vapes not far behind, at 440% and 160%, respectively. 

The United States has mirrored this trend, recording a 63% growth in mixed strain joints, 60% in disposable vape pens, and 22% in infused pre-rolls. These upswings signal consumers’ increasing importance on potency when selecting products, particularly as infused pre-rolls pack a stronger punch than their standard counterparts. 

Additionally, the emergence of sophisticated pre-roll manufacturing machinery has been pivotal, facilitating large-scale production to meet growing demands. This advanced technology allows for competitive pricing while simultaneously maintaining high potency levels.

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Demographics and the Cross-Generational Allure of Pre-rolls

Pre-rolls don’t merely thrive on market trends. They have firmly rooted themselves in the preferences of both consumers and businesses alike. Infused pre-rolls are widely available in the cannabis market today, with reportedly 58.4% of companies participating in the production or sales. 

This broad acceptance isn’t shocking when considering the research, which reveals a consistent allure of pre-rolls across diverse age groups. Despite the differences in consumption patterns among different generations, pre-rolls have maintained their popularity. For example:   

  • Baby boomers – 12.8% 
  • Generation X – 13.6% 
  • Millennials – 14.5%
  • Generation Z – 14.4%

The even distribution of favorability across generations highlights the potential staying power and longevity of the pre-roll market, suggesting a product that successfully bridges generational divides with its appeal.

Looking Ahead: Future of Pre-rolls and the Cannabis Industry

In considering the future of the cannabis industry, it’s evident that pre-rolls have the potential to influence its trajectory significantly. This is particularly true in Canada, where roughly half of the cannabis businesses are start-ups under three years old.

However, these small yet innovative companies can adjust and scale as the industry develops. 

Businesses aiming to extend their reach in this burgeoning market should consider several critical aspects. These include:

  • Assessing their monthly pre-roll production capacity
  • Observing the machines or techniques utilized by other brands for pre-roll packing 
  • Deciding whether to weigh pre-rolls prior to packaging
  • Understanding the average pre-roll size in grams 

These considerations could drastically impact productivity, cost efficiency, and, ultimately, their standing in the competitive market.

The Bottom Line

The report concludes with a confident prediction of a continued rise in pre-rolls. The authors go so far as to project that by 2030, pre-rolls will dethrone flower as the top-selling product category.

Given their convenience as a mode of flower consumption, these cannabis products have seen a soaring demand. In addition, coupled with the growing popularity of infused pre-rolls and multi-packs, even anecdotal evidence suggests that pre-rolls are likely to be the leading cannabis product. Indeed, it appears the cannabis industry’s future is quite literally on a roll. 

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