Cannabis is sold in a variety of forms, from joints to caramel truffles. Few of them exactly scream “medicine,” or correspond with something a consumer might pick up at a pharmacy to help deal with back pain or sleeplessness.
But the cannabis pills category, of course, offers consumers something that aligns seamlessly with the traditional medical experience. Pills are performing fairly well in Colorado, Washington and Oregon, but the category’s marketplace performance is especially robust in Colorado, according to data from BDS Analytics. The first quarter of 2017 saw sales of $4.10 million in Colorado, and grew by 140.6 percent compared to the same quarter last year.
One of the interesting aspects of the pills market, which harvested sales of $16.84 million last year in the three states and experienced growth of 132.7 percent, is how consumers in different states prefer varying styles of pills, and how in one state consumer preference evolved dramatically during the course of three years.
During the first quarter of 2017, Oregonians spent $255,336 on pills (making the category, which grew by 18.2 percent between Q1 2016 and Q1 2017, extremely small when compared to the overall cannabis market, which experienced sales of $100,727,743 million between January and March of this year). The pills category in the Beaver State is divided into two styles: capsules and softgels. In Oregon, capsules captured 79 percent of the market during the first quarter, compared to 21 percent for softgels.
Consumers in Washington during January and February of this year spent $1.02 million on pills, representing a lift of 65.8 percent compared to the same quarter last year. The pill category is less diverse in Washington with 99.8 percent of pills sold coming in the capsule form
The situation is markedly different in Colorado.
As referenced earlier, Centennial State consumers during the first quarter of 2017 spent $4.10 million on pills, making the state the pill capital when compared to Washington and Oregon.
But in Colorado, consumer preference is now dominated by tablets, which garnered 80 percent of the pills market during the first quarter. Capsules, the other Colorado style, grabbed 20 percent.
Just a year ago, however, the situation was nearly reversed. During the first quarter of 2016, Colorado consumers preferred capsules, which represented 66 percent of sales, to tablets at 34 percent. The capsule bias in Colorado was even more pronounced during the first quarter of 2015, when the style grabbed 87 percent of the market, compared to 13 percent for tablets. And during the first quarter of 2014, which was the first quarter of recreational sales ever in Colorado, capsules captured roughly 100 percent of the pills market (sales of the other styles at the time, softgels and tablets, were infinitesimal).
As it is with most categories within the cannabis marketplace, the world of pills remains extremely dynamic, with consumer preferences and choices evolving and expanding. The Colorado experience — from capsule domination of the market to tablet triumph during the course of three years — could be instructive for entrepreneurs in other states hunting for new product-launch ideas.