Cannabis Flower Most Popular Form of Consumption in Colorado

New Frontier breakdown analyzes Colorado cannabis flower trends and finds that flower is still on top, despite all the available alternatives.

New Frontier Data reviewed Colorado sales data and found that among the wide variety of product available to consumers, flower still reigns supreme.

A new analysis of Colorado’s cannabis sales data was presented by New Frontier Data on November 2. Using data from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, the company found that between 2014 and 2020, cannabis flower sales have increased exponentially. 

In terms of pounds of flower sold to consumers within that seven-year period, the state sold 148,000 pounds in 2014 and gradually increased to 584,000 pounds by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 26 percent.

New Frontier Data defines an average-sized joint as one-third of a gram of cannabis, and at that size, Colorado sold 201 million joints in 2014. By 2020, the state sold approximately 795 million joints. During the seven years since Colorado has had an established recreational cannabis law, the state has sold over 3.4 billion joints. 

“That flower sales continue to increase at such a pace seven years since the market launched suggests that smoking flower will remain a durable preference for the foreseeable future,” New Frontier Data Chief Knowledge Officer and author John Kagia wrote in his analysis. “However, the dominance of flower belies the seismic changes happening to consumer behavior and highlights the imperative for producers and brands to understand the tides of evolving consumer preferences.”

Although Colorado shows strong growth in flower sales, the individual breakdown of consumer preference is in flux. New Frontier Data’s 2021 Cannabis Consumer Evolution report notes that 57 percent of consumers use both flower and non-flower products, with only 19 percent saying they don’t choose flower over other options. 

Seventy percent of younger consumers (defined in the range of 18-34) were two times more likely to consume both flower and non-flower products than older consumers (defined as those over 55 years of age), at 35 percent. However, for age ranges that only consume flower, the older group was twice more likely than the younger crowd, at 40 percent and 15 percent respectively.

Those who consume cannabis products less frequently were found to only use flower, whereas those who consumed often were more likely to use a variety of cannabis products. Additionally, in gender demographics, women were less likely to choose flower in comparison to men. Medical cannabis patients also reported not using flower when treating their ailments, due to the increased risk of smoking on their health. 

Black market sales also have an interesting effect on flower popularity. New Frontier Data found that 33 percent of consumers who live in illegal markets are more likely to smoke flower exclusively, whereas only 22 percent of those who live in regulated markets will choose flower. Twenty-eight percent of consumers who purchase their cannabis products from physical retail stores or delivery services were more likely to buy non-cannabis flower products, in comparison to only 13 percent who would purchase from “informal sources.” 

The availability and promotion of new cannabis companies and products in Colorado present a thriving legal impact. “That dynamic reflects the regulated market’s power in introducing consumers to new, alternative product forms: not only is the legal market far more effective in innovating new product forms than is the illicit market, but the retail experience by which consumers can speak with knowledgeable budtenders regarding their needs and preferences is hastening the adoption of value-added products in regulated markets,” Kagia wrote.

Cannabis flower may be the most prominent form of consumption, but in the years to come, New Frontier Data predicts that it will slowly become less popular in favor of the growing variety of non-flower products. “The fragmentation of the product landscape is quickly reshaping the flower-dominant segment of the market; based on current trends, consumers who use flower exclusively are likely to become increasingly dominated by older, male and less-frequent users.”

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