There is a segment of cannabis consumers who are consistently looking for the highest quality products in each category. Pre-rolled joints, which are typically associated with convenience and affordability, are no exception.
In this article, we analyze and explain what makes premium pre-roll brands considered such with examples from both Canada and the US.
Fire in, fire out. You can get all of the other things on this list correct but if the starting material you use (typically milled dried flower) isn’t high quality, the end product won’t be either. If you’re a Licensed Producer – make sure your cultivation is up to standard. If you’re a co-packer/brand partner, make sure you choose your producer partners carefully. Working with craft, small-batch, and micro-producers is a great way to ensure that your input flower (and resulting end product) will be premium.
Premium pre-roll brands have meticulous attention to detail. They understand that everything matters – the paper, the glue, the filter, the way it’s rolled and packed and a host of other considerations. Hemp and rice papers are generally considered higher quality than traditional bleached materials.
Brands that can create ownable, unique differentiation through their pre-roll product materials tend to succeed. One example of a Canadian brand that has been able to accomplish this is BLKMKT, who introduced their unique “BLNT” product to the market in early 2021. In Canada, selling cannabis products mixed with tobacco is prohibited. BLKMKT tapped into the insight that there were many Canadians seeking a blunt or blunt alternative on the legal market. As a result, the company launched the “BLNT”, a beautifully rolled gram of Indica-dominant Candy Rain flower inside of a hemp wrap that was formulated to mimic the feel and smoke of a blunt wrap. The pre-rolled “BLNT”s offer consumers a novel, exciting, rare product and often sell out quickly in each market they are available in.
The grenade 8g infused pre-rolls from Napalm are one of the most intriguing examples of a unique US-based pre-roll brand. The brand, which was created by West Coast legend “Xzibit”, launched their infused pre-rolls in early 2020. This product contains seven grams of premium indoor cannabis flower with one gram of live-resin mixed in and then rolled into special papers from Lift Tickets (the world’s first terpene-infused rolling papers). This combination is then packaged in a unique glass “grenade” that turns the infused joint into the safety pin/wick. This is a unique product and brand concept within the cannabis space that has gained a lot of attention and free press as a result of its innovation and creativity (and sheer potency).
Packaging, Freshness and Small Batches
In Canada and most legalized states, products are made in a facility, pre-packaged, and shipped to retail stores. Similar to any other agricultural product, supply chain efficiency is incredibly important. Ensuring that your pre-rolls get into the hands of consumers as quickly as possible is essential.
One way to address supply chain and freshness concerns is to grow and produce pre-rolls in strategic smaller batches. Talented and skilled craft growers have an advantage here in that they are able to release limited batches to keep demand high and products fresh.
Packaging is of the utmost importance when it comes to maintaining quality and optimal moisture of pre-rolled cannabis joints. As with flower, storing products in plastic can result in a less flavourful, less potent experience. Using different packaging materials is an effective way to stand out from your competitors on the shelf. That is why premium brands like BLKMKT have chosen to offer their 1g pre-rolls in high-quality glass tubes. Glass ensures that the moisture and terpene content does not escape while also providing a luxurious and emotional attachment to the product. Glass isn’t the only premium packaging option though. The Tenzo brand in Canada utilizes a sleek aluminum tube, maintaining product quality and achieving an attainable luxury status. Along with thoughtfully designed packaging, both BLKMKT and Tenzo include Boveda two-way humidity control packs to ensure optimal moisture retention. These extra details can go a long way in preserving the flower and resonating with connoisseur consumers.
Branding and marketing are important as they can create an emotional attachment and turn products into premium status symbols. Consumers want to buy products from people they aspire to be like and from brands they deeply resonate with. Most premium, high-end brands in every category are built upon meaningful brand stories and narratives.
A perfect example of premium branding in the cannabis space comes from rap and business mogul Jay-Z. Hov launched his cannabis line “Monogram” in collaboration with California-based Caliva in late 2020. The first product offered under this label is singular 1.5g pre-rolled joints retailing for $50 USD. For comparison, an average 1.5g pre-roll would retail for between $10-25 at most. Jay-Z has built up an enormous amount of brand equity and awareness from decades of being an entrepreneur and musician that allows him and his brands to charge more than the typical cannabis company. These joints are hand-rolled using premium craft flower with “light”, “medium” or “heavy” potency. The 1.5g “OG handrolls” are meant to mimic the smoking experience of a cigar with a slow, even burn. Advertising and marketing allow Monogram to charge a higher price as they are seen as a premium, aspirational brand.
That’s a Wrap
We hope this guide helped you understand what separates the regular from the premium pre-roll brands. According to Headset, pre-rolls accounted for roughly 10% of category market share in the American cannabis space in 2020 – proving they are still a large, lucrative opportunity for brands. Get rolling!