What about the working-class stoner? Luxury cannabis brands may be missing the mark

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As cannabis brands focus their attention on the high-roller lifestyle, they may be leaving plenty of customers — and cash — behind.

New brands are launching all the time, but very few are focused on the working-class stoner.

A study by the Brightfield Group cautions that they do this at their peril. “Emerging leaders in the branded cannabis space are largely seeking to differentiate themselves on their premium inputs (but) few are seizing the opportunity to capture low-income customers in the Economy brand space,” the report notes.

With almost half of the 35 million marijuana smokers in the U.S. making less than US$30,000 a year, it’s no wonder the black market is still alive and well. Even Canada, which has full adult-use cannabis legalization, still relies on the black market for almost 80 percent of its supply, according to Statistics Canada.

One way to cut that percentage is to provide discounts that bring in the economy class with bargain buds.

Canada’s Hexo Corporation is at least giving it a go, offering a strain called Original Stash — a sativa dominant hybrid — for just $4.49 per gram. The only catch is that consumers can only buy an ounce at a time, something that won’t be a big deal for the coupon clippers and sale-seekers among us. It might even be the start of a trend.

“If it can gain a meaningful share of the low-cost market and even take some market share from illicit providers, it has the basis of a very nice business,” said Greg Miller, executive director of the National Institute of Cannabis Investors. “After all, McDonald’s makes more money than probably every high-end steakhouse in the world combined, and it does that through low prices.”

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