American cannafans spent $289 million this Thanksgiving with big gains for drinks, gummies and other discreet products.
Popular edibles brand Kiva Confections, in an “off the wall” experiment, launched a first-of-its-kind seasonal product back in 2019—a THC-spiked gravy to go with cannafans’ Thanksgiving turkeys.
The savory sauce not only lit up social media and the national press—late night’s Stephen Colbert even did a segment—it sold out immediately. Granted, it was a limited run with only 200 packages.
Moved by the holiday spirit once again, the California-based brand recently reintroduced the fan favorite, this time with 25,000 units available and a partnership with Cann’s cranberry sage-flavored weed soda. (Kiva reports the gravy was its most popular SKU last week with a “100% sell-through” on its DTC channel.)
“The timing felt right to bring it back,” Kristi Palmer, co-founder at Kiva, told Adweek. “It’s just the type of product that fosters community, and you feel cool when you’re the person bringing it to dinner.”
Kiva’s gravy-and-Cann bundle, sold only in California via dispensaries and ecommerce channels, is part of a fast-growing edibles segment that no longer sits at the kids’ table. In fact, it cemented its place as the guest of honor during the recent Green Wednesday sales boom.
Green Wednesday, the day before “Danksgiving,” pulled in record-setting numbers last week with $116.4 million in single-day sales, a 16% jump from 2021’s results, per Akerna. For the four-day holiday weekend, American cannafans spent $289.1 million, up 12.7% from 2021’s $254.7 million, per the researcher.
With that performance, Green Wednesday ranks second in 2022 sales, behind only April 20’s weedstravaganza (an eye-popping $154.4 million in sales).
Edibles were a much-needed bright spot for the battle-scarred industry, while in a surprise market shift, traditionally strong-selling concentrates and flower took noticeable hits, dropping 11.4% and 10.8%, respectively, per Headset.
Even as the stigma associated with cannabis is fading, “ingestibles” like gummies and THC-spiked drinks that allow for discreet consumption broke through as shopper favorites during the Thanksgiving period.
According to Headset, topical sales increased by 15.7%, beverages bumped up 13.2% and edibles by 6.1% in seven U.S. markets. Vapes also made a strong showing, per Jane Technologies, with a 20% boost in sales nationally for the long holiday weekend. Grab-and-go vapes, while still smoky, are considered more portable and less conspicuous than flower.
Overall, edibles are now the fourth most popular category after flower, vapes and pre-rolls, having grown from 10.7% of total weed sales in January 2021 to 12.1% in September 2022, per Headset’s study of 11 states.
Gummies are king, according to Headset, with nearly 74% of sales, but consumers are increasingly gravitating to new products outside the sweets category like potent potato chips and spicy drink mix-ins.
The holidays are especially ripe for novelties that can serve as conversation starters at social outings and get-togethers, and Kiva’s not alone in testing the waters with short-term products. For instance, Tilt and Old Pal have debuted a weed-infused brownie mix called “Baked at Home.” The collaboration aims to bring a modern twist, along with 100 milligrams of THC spread over 20 brownies, to an old-school staple.
Those goodies and others are intended for both cannacurious buyers and older (often neglected) shoppers in a category that Headset says has seen its brand count increase by nearly 5% in the last year.
Good for 40 winks
Colorado-based Wana, which steers clear of limited-run product drops, is instead speaking to a universal need that’s even more acute during the stress-filled holidays: catching some Zs.
The brand is throwing its marketing weight behind a line extension called Wana Optimals Stay Asleep gummies as an answer to studies that show one in five Americans suffer from chronic sleep issues. The brand, which already has a lower-dose gummy called Fast Asleep, also noted that 70% of young cannafans report consuming weed to help with sleep.
“The products are intended to give people what they lack at this time of year: a good night’s sleep,” Joe Hodas, Wana’s CMO, told Adweek. “And to get them through whatever trials and tribulations they’re facing.”
Catering to Gen X
Fun fact: Consumers over the age of 41 typically make up 37% of total weed sales in the U.S. But these same cannafans make up 51.3% of edibles sales, per Headset. That stat is not lost on Verano, a Chicago-based cannabis conglomerate with operations in 13 states.
Verano, while launching an Instagram-ready micro-dose line for newbies called Bits, has rebranded its flagship Encore product to make it pop for experienced Gen X and boomer buyers.
Having started its life as a 10-milligram-per-gummy product for medical sales, Encore had a nondescript look, executives admitted. It was perhaps best known as a no-frills “sturdy, straight-forward” brand, according to David Spreckman, executive vice president and head of marketing. “Reliable, trustworthy, traditional—nothing exotic,” he told Adweek.
Encore’s refreshed, color-block design incorporates a vinyl record for a marketing platform that can be flexible to various musical styles and genres. The streamlined new packaging premieres, fortuitously, during the busy holiday season, targeted at 45- to 64-year-old legacy users who may not often see themselves reflected in dispensary aisles.
“This group represents a significant portion of overall purchasing power,” Spreckman said. “There’s a world of opportunity in Gen X, and they’ve often been overlooked. And right now, with traffic and sales up, it’s a great time to engage with those consumers.”
Expect to see more and more varied types of edibles going forward, with industry execs saying the holidays are becoming a proving ground for the formerly niche products which don’t require any equipment or skill like grinding flower and rolling joints. Edibles also bypass the lungs, still a concern while flu, Covid-19 and respiratory viruses rage this winter.
And cannafans don’t have to excuse themselves to “go for a walk” to keep their consumption under wraps.
“Edibles are the ultimate discretion—nobody’s the wiser about what you choose or need to do, which can really come in handy,” Palmer said. “And there’s a shareability factor, where people who are curious can take a mint or half a gummy. It becomes a fun way to interact.”