With every new year, there are new expectations and trends in business – and the cannabis industry is no different! Every aspect of the marijuana field will fluctuate and change as the year progresses, but there are a few spaces that consumers should be primarily focused on. Let’s look at what industry leaders predict for the cannabis industry as 2022 gets into full swing concerning business, equity, and product cultivation!
Retail cannabis businesses are poised to evolve in significant ways in 2022. This primarily has to do with the ramifications of COVID-19, which shows no sign of slowing down in the new year. Due to this, more and more dispensaries are offering more no-contact options. One such option is an expansion of dispensary delivery services. Drayton Howell, the CEO of Indacut, predicts that “delivery will play a big role in the way people shop this upcoming year and the trends show it. I believe operators will roll out delivery in some capacity to acclimate to the market!”
Delivery trends are also driven by the lack of support many dispensaries have regarding theft and crime. Unfortunately, this trend is not predicted to improve as 2022 rumbles on. Christine De La Rosa is the co-founder and CEO of The People’s Ecosystem and believes that “…it is more practical for small operators to implement delivery rather than face the risk to their safety, their employees’ safety, and their business safety in the current climate. And, based on the actions we’ve seen from law enforcement, it does not appear that this type of danger to operators and their business will change anytime soon.” Until laws can address these crimes and protect dispensaries, expect to see a delivery boom.
Another retail component that goes hand-in-hand with delivery is eCommerce. The CEO of Cova, Gary Cohen, postulates two reasons for the boom in eCommerce in the industry: “We’re seeing a move by dispensaries toward their own eCommerce sites to manage their online presence and orders. This has been fueled by two things: heightened importance of the web in driving business during COVID restrictions, and the need for a unique site experience that reinforces brand identity and leverages SEO to gain more eyeballs and click-through.” Essentially, the ability for customers to shop online is also driven mainly by COVID-19; the market cannot discount that shoppers are simply moving in a more Internet-based buying phase.
One other major trend in the business and retail sector is the expansion of business models and ventures. Dispensaries are more challenged to create spaces that are unique and stand out. Fresh ideas like speakeasy-style dispensaries, more service-centric dispensaries, and hip smoke lounges are on the rise. To succeed in the cannabis marketplace, 2022 will be a year that retail spaces have to expand and think outside the box.
One of the biggest trends to watch in 2022 is to see how social equity changes in the cannabis industry landscape. THC Staffing is a recruitment firm that provides qualified workers for multiple positions in the cannabis industry. The founder, Danielle Schumacher, said of equitable hiring, “Job seekers and equity advocates have been continuously raising awareness of what a diverse and inclusive industry should look like. As system-impacted people and organizations build knowledge and momentum, companies can no longer justify superficial marketing campaigns and misguided “social equity” initiatives. If companies truly want to implement fair chance hiring – intentionally recruiting and retaining people who have been most impacted by drug prohibition – they need to commit to systemic change and invest in real solutions.” She believes that in 2022, companies will be monitored closely and held accountable for failing to meet equitable hiring standards.
Moving into 2022, the industry should also closely follow the state’s social equity programs. It has become more common to see states rolling out social equity programs directly tied to marijuana legalization laws, but the success of these programs is up for debate. Social equity programs in Arizona and Illinois are mired with one or multiple lawsuits; often, these programs seem lazy, and advocates argue they do not do enough to help minorities. However, the outcry for solid programs that uplift marginalized groups is growing. Consumers should definitely keep their eye on dispensaries that are part of these social equity programs.
Another necessary trend to watch (especially if you are interested in going into the field – no pun intended) is the strong potential to increase working conditions and wages. Kara Bradford of Viridian Staffing (a similar recruitment company to THC Staffing) predicts, “for companies to avoid production stops or slowdown, many will likely need to either increase wages, improve working conditions, and/or company culture in order to attract talent, and avoid attrition to competitors and other industries.”
One of the most fun trends to watch out for is product cultivation. Every year brings about new products, and 2022 is no exception! The rising inclusivity in THCV, CGB, and THC-A means that flower and dabs cultivated with minor cannabinoids will be on the rise. Customers should check with their local dispensaries to access any new products rolling out in 2022, whether it be bud or accessories.
While new products are great, for all you classic marijuana consumers out there, B-Real of Dr. Greenthumb & Insane Brands has a prediction: “The one thing that I do see coming, that maybe other people may not see, or that may catch some people off guard, is the return of OG Kush in a big way…that famous kush balanced high, it’s just classic. I’ve seen the pendulum swing so far the other way I just think it’s gonna come back to OG Kush a bit. I think 2022 will be the year, I mean, it’s OG Kush, it’s a living legend.” 2022 may just be the year of nostalgia for timeless strains.
Another trend to follow is a diversification of products for many different consumer groups. The co-founder and CEO of Medically Correct, Rick Scarpello, thinks that “companies that solve problems and create diverse brands are those that will succeed in 2022 and beyond. Serve the medical patients and connoisseurs, but also those looking for a nuanced experience.” In essence, companies that expand their consumer base by offering a large variety of products are expected to trend upwards in 2022.
In 2022 some aspects of the industry will skyrocket, some will stay stagnant, and some will decline. While it remains to be seen how business, equity, and products will be affected in the new year, experts are expecting lots of shifts and waves. Whatever happens in the cannabis industry, we at The Cansumer will be sure to follow these trends and keep you informed. From all of us, Happy New Year!