2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit, as recognized in the Lunar Calendar. The Water Rabbit is often recognized as symbolic of peace and prosperity, and we anticipate that core to cross over into the cannabis industry. Akerna CEO Jessica Billingsley has also declared 2023 “the Year of Partnerships” in her predictions for cannabis industry trends in 2023, as reported by Benzinga. These both tell a story of growth through creating bonds with others and thriving through community, and the 365 Cannabis team is inspired by the fresh start. Cannabis being a new market is innately innovative and inherently takes notes from trends in other emerging enterprises, such as the tech world. We will be looking at identified trends for 2023 and determine how these movements will shake up the cannabis world.
Brand Building through Partnerships
As stated, 2023 is declared “the Year of Partnerships” not only by Billingsley, but also within cannabis outlets such as Cannabis Business Times (CBT). CBT predicts a “greater emphasis on co-manufacturers and distributors”, calling out “the opportunity to partner with other brands that the co-manufacturer makes, or the distributor sells, to have multi-manufacturer promotions and events as you are part of a House of Brand concept”. Developing built-in partners to easily leverage will deliver the competitive edge that so many operators are seeking.
Nikolai Erickson, the owner of California’s Full Moon Farms, has stated that “moving into next year, we will look for more added value- more co-branded products with partners who currently have market space” as one of his resolutions in 2023.
Connecting with other brands to not only grow together but build together will be a key feature in 2023. Billingsley concludes “We’ll expect to see operators across the country focusing on the partnerships that will grow alongside them, and this will show in the ancillary market as time passes.”
Certainly, cannabis has been subject to criticism for its lack of sustainability within the highly regulated processes. From packaging to on plant tracking to the energy required to even process and grow plants, there are few areas of opportunity currently for cannabis to invest in more renewable or recyclable resources. Gary Fowler from Forbes recently called out sustainability in his article on Tech Trends for 2023, cites the “stronger push towards the adoption of sustainable energy resources” while recognizing that “the shift to renewable energy will not happen overnight”. On a more personal level, this may translate to fewer fossil fuel-based cars, fewer single-use products in everyday use, and exploring opportunities to integrate renewable energy sources. Within cannabis, this will be inclusive of biodegradable options for product packaging, reusable exit bag initiatives for dispensaries, and energy-efficient measures within production facilities. Within regulation restrictions, some operators have already implemented customer rewards opportunities for using the same exit bag. Jesce Horton, the founder of LOWD in Oregon, has committed to sustainability by looking to launch “refillable glass ‘Howlers’” for guests.
January 2023 happens to be the two-year anniversary of the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition, a group aptly named for their focus on seeking out and developing sustainability within the cannabis industry. Their blog features incredible resources for operators to reduce their waste and carbon footprint in efforts for a more sustainable future in cannabis.
While the industry grows, it naturally finds pockets of oversaturation which drive the need for brand differentiation. Billingsley calls out that “In just one example, across six recreational cannabis markets in 2021 (CA, CO, MI, NV, OR, WA), cannabis gummies accounted 70% of all edibles sales, while all other categories saw their market shares decline”, a data point that is both jarring as it is enlightening. Huckleberry Hills Farms in California aims to differentiate by focusing on education. Owner John Casali states that “the goal for season 2023 is to continue to educate the consumers that ‘knowing your farmer’ is more important than how much THC something has on the label”. The emphasis on truly understanding the quality of what a user is consuming, as well as other factors outside of THC, will drive a stronger user base. Determining a brand’s core value and using that to drive their differentiating factor will be key in ensuring brand longevity.
2023 is the year of growth and approaching stabilization in the industry. The above factors, as well as the impending legal reform, reiterates that “the coming year will further reinforce that cannabis reform is no longer just a Democratic issue”, per Billingsley. She reminds us that “2022 saw the introduction of Rep. Nancy Mace’s MORE Act, a fully Republican authored and co-sponsored cannabis reform bill which has been described as one of, if not the most, comprehensive cannabis legislation to be introduced”. Political figures like Gary Chambers who ran for the Louisiana Senator role in 2022 have also featured cannabis reform as a major element of his campaign. While Chambers was unable to unseat Republican Sen. John Kennedy during the 2022 primary, his contribution to the cannabis conversation is solidified with his campaign ad featuring him smoking a blunt. When Chambers shared the ad on his social pages, he included the commentary “I hope this ad works to not only destigmatize the use of marijuana, but also forces a new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology”.
We are optimistic and look forward to growth in 2023. To stay up to date with cannabis industry news and progress, sign up for our newsletter below. To connect with our team to see how 365 Cannabis can ensure your operation stays on the cutting edge in 2023 and beyond, click here for a free personalized demonstration.