Balms, creams lotions, patches — the world of topicals differs markedly from all other categores of cannabis sales that include THC. The rest of them — edibles, concentrates and flowers — enter the bloodstream through the mouth by inhalation or swallowing. But topicals enter the body through the skin.
It’s a niche category. Massage therapists have fully embraced cannabis oils and lotions. People suffering from bum knees or aching rotator cuffs now are experimenting with them. And chronic-pain sufferers have discovered patches, which release THC slowly through the skin and relieve pain over longer periods of time.
Growth for topicals in Colorado through November of this year is 25.5 percent, on sales of $20.5 million according to cannabis data market leader BDS Analytics. But upon closer examination, interesting trends emerge.
Some of the most fascinating data revolves around the differences between consumers who buy topicals that are high in CBD and those that are not CBD-focused.
The market for products that are not high in CBD is roughly triple the size of the high-CBD market, with sales of $15 million and growth of 30 percent compared to last year. In that category, balms and salves are far and away the market leader, capturing 44 percent of the market on sales of $6.6 million. And growth was solid through November of last year, too — 78 percent. Creams are No. 2, with 23 percent of the market and 20 percent growth and patches No. 3, with 8 percent of the market. But the market for patches without high CBD fell last year, down 20 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.
The sitution is entirely different in the realm of high-CBD products.
That $5.65 million market (for 2017 through November), saw growth of 15 percent — half the growth of the other market.
But there, patches reign. While patches represent only 8 percent of the other market, in the high-CBD market patches capture 40 percent of sales. Growth for patches however lagged during 2017, down 13 percent on sales of $5.65 million.
The No. 2 category for high-CBD is balms and salves, which grabbed 20 percent of that market and saw growth of 23 percent.
But here is where stupendous growth is taking place — sales expanded by 198 percent, to $1 million, for high-CBD lotions during this period. Even more astounding is the high-CBD creams market, which experienced growth of 685 percent last year on sales of $207,200. These are relatively small markets where rocket-like growth is easier to achieve than with larger marketplaces. The trend is worth noting.
When it comes to topicals, it is a tale of two markets, depending upon whether consumers are gunning for high-CBD products or products that are not swollen with the cannabinoid.