Cannabis concentrates are still in the early days in Canada. There are very few offerings currently available on the market. A number of producers have announced that they are working on a variety of extracts but only a small amount have found their way into the hands of consumers.
In mature markets such as California and Colorado, concentrates accounted for about 23% of all cannabis purchases. Cannabis Intelligence Briefing predicts that the extracts market will rise to account for 36% of all cannabis purchases by 2022, when including vaporizer pens and pods.
Today, we are going to examine the small but growing concentrate market in Canada, try to define the concentrate consumer and analyze the marketing strategies of the current brands in the space.
Who is the Concentrate Consumer
Concentrates largely appeal to enthusiasts and seasoned cannabis consumers. Dabbable concentrates such as rosin, bubble hash, and wax present a barrier to entry for the average cannabis consumer. To consume these extracts efficiently, an individual must either purchase a dab rig (electronic or traditional, which also requires acquiring a blow torch) or a dry herb vaporizer that also works with concentrates (such as the PAX 3). These set-ups are usually costly, ranging from one hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Therefore, most concentrate consumers will be “enthusiasts” that have been buying extracts on the informal market for years.
Over time, we may see a few new concentrate consumer categories emerge. The two new segments we see potentially emerging are 1) older sophisticated individuals with more wealth that are seeking the highest quality products available (for status and out of curiosity) and 2) younger individuals with high amounts of disposable income that consider THC % as their primary quality indicator / motivating benefit.
The current concentrate consumer skews male, is typically between the ages of 22-35, has a high amount of disposable income, spends more on cannabis than the average consumer and typically already has tried cannabis-derived concentrates prior to 2.0 legalization.
What Brands Sell Cannabis Concentrates in Canada
Products: BC Bubble Hash, BC Canna Kief, and BC Hash Rosin
Product details: BC Bubble Hash is a 1g, solventless concentrate from Canna Farms that extracts the trichomes from the cannabis plant via ice water.
BC Hash Rosin is sold in 0.5g lots, extracted solventlessly using Bubble Hash, heat and pressure. The company describes the product by stating it has “a unique colour that very much resembles black finger hash”. Typically, high-quality hash rosin doesn’t resemble black finger hash so this description could use a little work. In Ontario, this extract costs $125/g.
The BC Canna Kief is sold in 1g containers and is reportedly extracted in a way that keeps the terpene profile intact. In Ontario, this product is $29.95.
Branding details: Canna Farms is both a medical and a recreational cannabis brand. However, all of their branding revolves around the medical side. Their social media strategy has used the same formula of some sort of stock image with the name of the product superimposed over it. All of their digital marketing is medical-focused and their call to action is always to visit their website, where they intake patients. It is a strange strategy considering the aforementioned concentrate products are all available on the recreational market across Canada. Canna Farms marketing strategy is very basic, almost too professional and a bit uninspiring.
Product details: Dry sift hash in 2g containers. Individual trichome heads from slow-cured cannabis have been gently extracted and pressed into a flavourful hashish product. OS.Hash10 is extracted from a single-origin hybrid strain, OS.Hash20 comes from an Indica blend and OS.Hash30 will be made from a sativa blend (coming soon).
Branding details: Original Stash is a subsidiary brand of HEXO corp that is focused on bringing quality products to market at a bargain price. In our opinion, Original Stash is a well thought out brand. The choice to offer hash in a value brand makes a lot of sense since traditional hash like this is usually considered to be a lower-end, or at least less expensive, concentrate. The branding is straightforward and communicates all of the necessary information in a clean and simple way. Original Stash has a youthful, grungy but hip social media presence and markets this hash product as “Real old-school. A great reason to go legal.” This (rightfully) acknowledges that traditional hash is considered an old-school concentrate and that the consumer groups they are trying to win over (the value and concentrate consumer) are largely still buying from the informal market.
Original Stash created a great but simple “How To Hash” guide on their website that instructs consumers on the different consumption methods available. This guide encourages readers to add the product to their bongs/pipes, sprinkling in a joint, infusing in a meal and even mentions and explains BTs (Bottle Tokes), a very old-school way to consume hash products.
James E. Wagner
Product details: JWC offers a few varieties of strain-specific kief including OG Kush, Wagner’s Choice, Northern Kush and King Tut. The term “GE” is added to each of these products – indicating that the strain is exclusive to JWC.
Branding details: James E Wagner was strictly a medical producer until the last few months. The first products they brought to the Ontario recreational market were four different types of kief and their signature “Dark Helmet” strain.
JWC focuses on the fact that their kief is single origin. They define single original as a “product made using lots from one cultivar source, which maintains the plant’s purity and potency, and achieves product consistency”. This is a smart marketing strategy if they are targeting the enthusiast, as most seasoned cannabis consumers are familiar with strain names and effects and prefer to understand the origin of the concentrates they consume. However, kief is not a dabbable concentrate, it is one that must be combusted or vaporized. These types of products are typically popular with novice and mid-tier cannabis consumers, who may not necessarily care as much about single origin products as more involved consumers. However, it is impressive that they have at least carved out a differentiating factor for their kief product.
Although the company has had some struggles lately, they are still actively marketing these products online through social media and digital channels.
Whistler Cannabis Co.
Products: Live Rosin
Product details: 1g live rosin made using a blend of Whistler’s strains. Created with fresh frozen plant material, not dried. Whistler Cannabis Co‘s live rosin is made using a solventless, water-based extraction process. Reportedly smells like citrus and caramel. Retails for $150/g in British Columbia.
Branding details: WMMC was founded in 2013 and has been selling high-quality, small-batch, certified organic cannabis to the medical market since April 2014. Whistler was acquired by Aurora Cannabis in 2019 and the new Whistler Cannabis Co. brand was launched to bring this live rosin product to the recreational market. The Whistler medical brand has a great reputation for supplying high-quality products so there was much anticipation for the launch of this product. Anecdotally from cannabis retailers and reviewers that ADCANN has been in touch with, this live rosin is currently the “best” dabbable concentrate on the legal market.
The new Whistler Cannabis Co brand is focused on organic growing and has a well-designed website and an extensive merchandise line. However, there are not any posts on their social media pages yet and there is no mention online anywhere of the live rosin product. The only details we could find were from the BC Cannabis Store listing page. The beginnings of a brand are there but there is much room for development.
Products: Wax (BHO) and Shatter (BHO)
Product details: It appears that Fireside’s concentrates are not yet available in any province but should be coming soon.
The products are “full spectrum” Wax and Shatter dabbable concentrates. The Wax is derived from Fireside’s indica-dominant Sensi Star flower and the Shatter is a blend of Wappa, Glueberry, and OG Kush. The company claims that the “terpenes and cannabinoids are kept in unison and preserved using a state-of-the-art Hydrocarbon (BHO) extraction process to ensure the highest quality”.
Branding details: Fireside is a mid-tier recreational brand offered by VIVO Cannabis that has existed since October of 2018, prior to 2.0 regulations. Fireside invites their customers to “spark an adventure” and offers a variety of products including dried flower, pre-rolls, vape cartridges, and extracts.
The company promotes the use of their wax and shatter products in several consumption formats. The consumption methods suggested are a dab rig, sprinkled in a joint, or capping off a bowl.
Products: Live Resin Caviar and Live Resin Badder
Product details: Live resin is a form of cannabis extract that is produced using a technique that takes freshly harvested cannabis and freezes it to below zero temperatures prior to and throughout the extraction process, fully maintaining the terpenes and taste profile. This form of extract is very popular in mature U.S. markets like California and in the informal market in Canada. Premium Five is the first Canadian brand to bring these types of products to the legal market. Both products are sold in one gram containers and are listed at $100/gram on AlbertaCannabis.org.
Premium 5’s Live Resin Caviar is a honey-coloured concentrate that resembles caviar and tastes like lemon and pine. This product is single source and uses the “Glueberry OG” strain as an input.
Their Live Resin Badder is described as a “lovingly crafted” concentrate that’s whipped to a cake frosting-like consistency.
Branding details: Premium 5 is a privately held small concentrate producer based in the Edmonton, Alberta area. Premium 5 is one of the only brands exclusively selling concentrates in Canada. The brand invites you to “Find Your Feeling” in their marketing materials. Both of the aforementioned live resin products are part of the Premium 5’s “signature series”.
The brand’s product description pages on their website are well done. Each product has a corresponding Soundcloud track that you can play to help describe what the product feels like. There is also taste, aroma, effect, and extraction method information on the website. The brand’s social media content has a psychedelic and “heady” feel, with a consistent background of purple, teal, and blue patterns. This brand is relatively unknown but is an interesting one to watch as cannabis 2.0 and concentrates become more popular in the Canadian legal cannabis market.
The Future of Cannabis Concentrates in Canada
Like the edibles and beverages categories, the future of cannabis concentrates in Canada has yet to be seen. However, we’re pretty certain that the success of these products will rely on brands offering new and innovative formats that informal market consumers have grown accustomed to. Dabbable concentrates that are popular in mature markets like rosin, live resin, “diamonds” and “HTFSE/HCFSE” will likely become more prevalent. Currently, we have existing flower brands slowly moving into concentrates but brands that exclusively sell these 2.0 products and focus on specific segments of the extract consumer will likely emerge over the coming years. The formats and brands will surely get better and more diverse.