During the height of holiday shopping, several cannabis brands last December decided to get in on the fun. Dosist packaged its vaporizer pens with candles scented like the company’s oil formulas. Francis Ford Coppola jumped in with a curated selection of buds housed inside a hollow replica of a wine bottle. Like a stoned Santa staring wide-eyed at a plate full of freshly baked cookies, the cannabis industry is clearly ready to take a big bite out of the holidays.
As the regulated market continues to expand both within California and across an increasing number of other states, more and more businesses are turning to seasonal tie-in products to differentiate themselves from the competition. If Christmas offerings were the first contenders, things have reached a new level with the news that Kiva Confections is releasing a St. Patrick’s Day twist on its hugely popular line of Terra Bites.
Kiva’s limited-edition Pot O’ Gold Terra Bites are flavored with a blend of chocolate and peppermint. They are also coated in edible 24-karat gold. Emblazoned with four-leaf clovers, each circular tin contains 20 golden bites that each offer 5 milligrams of THC. Pot O’Gold Terra Bites are now available exclusively in California via the Eaze delivery app.
Once you allow for the insanity of that concept to settle in, it’s not difficult to surmise the company’s intentions. On the surface, this bizarre addition to the questionable legacy of domestic St. Patrick’s Day celebrations offers an alternative for those seeking respite from a historically alcohol-drenched affair. Perhaps more importantly, it also allows for Kiva to put its signature product in some fancy new attire.
While the sales figures for Pot O’ Gold bites remain to be seen, there is reason to expect solid returns. St. Patrick’s Day may not be in the top tier of holidays here in the U.S., but last month, the inventory at many Bay Area dispensaries was flush with items meant to appeal to Valentine’s Day shoppers.
According to Forbes, the compliance software company Flowhub reported a 22-percent increase in sales of cannabis products for Valentine’s Day weekend 2018 over the year prior. Some of that increase could arguably be attributed to the fact that California — easily the largest market in the U.S. — had no recreational industry in place in 2017, but overall, the numbers indicate a correlation between holidays and consumers looking to purchase cannabis.
More recently, Marijuana Business Daily further culled data from Flowhub and found a seven-percent spike in sales for Valentine’s Day 2019. In Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon alone, they reported, “Valentine’s Day weekend spending at adult-use marijuana retail stores … hit $3.15 million in 2019, a three-percent increase over 2018, with average spending of $52.98.”
With Valentine’s Day, the need for unique and customized products is lessened owing to the fact that chocolate — one of the holiday’s most “traditional” gifts — is something that many cannabis brands already offer all year long. Add in a rising number of companies specializing in massage oils and other products that target the reported sensual benefits of cannabis and it’s easy to imagine rebranding many staple items as seasonal gifts.
However, as Kiva’s latest offering attests, the ability to pair a holiday with cannabis is not limited solely to the usual suspects. Parsing the data provided by the pot delivery start-up Eaze as part of its annual “State of Cannabis” survey, Forbes also notes that “consumers in California bought 12 percent more cannabis via delivery on Christmas Eve than on a typical Monday of that year. Furthermore, New Year’s Eve saw a 32-percent increase in deliveries, when compared to a regular Monday.”
One factor that has yet to be settled is whether the release of products specifically themed to coincide with a holiday is partially responsible for these surges in sales, or conversely, if such products are simply a clever way for companies like Kiva to additionally benefit from periods of established increased activity.
In some cases, the mere idea of giving cannabis products as a gift has spurred accelerated sales.
Last December, KTVU reported that Sacramento’s All About Wellness saw a 750-percent increase in foot traffic in the days leading up to Christmas. It’s hardly counterintuitive to expect more customers to walk through the doors during the busiest shopping season of the year, but the numbers clearly support the idea that consumers are thinking about cannabis in relation to holidays in a major way.
Considered all together, current trends seem to indicate that we should expect to see more products in line with the Pot O’ Gold Terra Bites in the months and years to come. Does that mean an inevitable future of candy cane-flavored edibles and THC-infused Hanukkah gelt?
Quite possibly, although there’s always the chance this is simply the high point of a marketing mirage powered by the relative newness of legal cannabis.
In either case, the potential riches of seasonal products appear to be real enough that heavyweights like Kiva want in. What wealth it will ultimately lead to is hard to predict, but if we’re literally coating cannabis in gold, it’s fair to assume there is something worthwhile at the end of the rainbow.