Cannabis 2.0: Capitalizing on Concentrates
By Geoff Hoover, CEO, Thrive Cannabis
After years of cannabis prohibition, the first wave of legalization normalized dried flower, the top-selling format today. Cannabis 1.0 legalized combustible cannabis, oils, plants and seeds in a top-down, government-led mandate. Despite this being a watershed moment for Canadian licensed cannabis producers, they still found it difficult to stand out in a crowd of products that all look quite similar.
Now, with Cannabis 2.0, cannabis derivative products like edibles, vapes, concentrates and beverages have also become legal in the country. We can now touch, feel, smell, taste, drink, vape or apply cannabis.
Despite obstacles, this wave helped consumers, retailers and brands achieve new milestones. Like many things these days, the cannabis experience is evolving as a result of its interaction with new technologies and modern techniques.The pandemic has also allowed legal online retail to flourish and pre-rolls, vapes and cannabis concentrates like edibles emerged as popular formats.
What are cannabis concentrates exactly?
Concentrates are products made from the cannabis plant that have been processed to keep only the most desirable plant compounds (primarily the cannabinoids and terpenes), while removing excess plant material and other impurities. Ounce for ounce, cannabis concentrates have a greater proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes when compared to natural cannabis flowers.
Concentrates are a great option for seasoned cannabis consumers looking to increase the intensity of their high, as well as flavor connoisseurs seeking out interesting terpene profiles. Cannabis concentrates also offer many benefits to those who want an alternative to simply smoking or vaping dried flower. From easy, precise dosing through the use of thin strips, to clean and refined flavors in potent vape cartridges and dabs, and the flexibility to apply cannabinoids and terpenes to food and beverages, concentrates finally make it possible to ‘play’ with the ingredients in cannabis to achieve many more use cases and product forms than Cannabis 1.0.
How to stand out in the crowded concentrate market
Given the relative infancy of the cannabis industry, the biggest advantage Cannabis 2.0 affords us is the ability to make something different, something that stands out from the crowded market.
To really achieve this, you have to start with a measured and thoughtful approach. This needs to be at the forefront of any company’s product ethos. Begin by targeting a portion of the market, like high-end concentrates for example. A focused approach is paramount to the success of any company, and in cannabis, where things move at such a rapid pace, your focus can make or break you. For example, at Thrive, we created an outdoor cannabis farm to provide sun-grown input cannabis with solid terpene profiles and high yields per plant (though, at an average of seven feet tall, they are really trees). Ensuring the post-harvest quality of inventory is also vital. This can be supported through investments in refrigerated storage to guarantee that plant matter remains as fresh as possible.
Another crucial element for a brand hoping to stand out in the crowded concentrates market is extraction. There will always be a market for simple distillates efficiently and cheaply made in CO2 or ethanol extractors where the output is primarily THC-in-oil. However, Cannabis 2.0 provides incentives to producers like Thrive, who is focused on a higher quality of concentrate, to invest in gentler processes like hydrocarbon extraction to ensure all cannabinoids and native terpenes are captured and retained in the end product.This allows for the production of whole-plant extracts, such as live resin, that have richer aromas and flavors, and truly capture the essence of each strain grown by their hard working cultivation teams. There’s also the added benefit of increased potency due to the fact that more cannabinoids are working on the body and being modulated by more natural terpenes, as they occur in that particular strain. This also modifies the “high” for the consumer, giving each concentrate a built-in point of differentiation, and thereby helping it stand out in the market.
In an industry that is constantly in flux, the most important thing a company can do is to remain focused. Your products will only be as successful as the strategy they ladder up to. Figure out your path, then stand firm to stand out.
Geoff Hoover is the CEO, Thrive Cannabis, a vertically-integrated cultivator and processor of premium craft cannabis and cannabis concentrates.