Beverages have been at the nexus of social interactions and an essential lubricant facilitating cultural evolution for millennia. Brewing in Mesopotamia, wine symposia in Ancient Greece and a coffee takeaway in any contemporary metropolitan city have beverages as the common thread running through them ; Cannabis drinks, hold the potential to disrupt established drinks ecosystems and radically reshape the traditions surrounding them
This report comes in PPT.
Still early in their nascent evolutionary cycle, cannabis beverages currently account for only a minor share of overall cannabis sales. The category is yet to realise its full potential, being limited by technological innovation only now beginning to catch up with the latest infusion and water solubility solutions, the still embryonic – or non-existent – state of the all important on-trade channel, logistics and merchandising shortcomings and barriers, and the lack of economies of scale. As most of these issues are gradually solved, however, performance will improve.
While cannabis is increasingly establishing its role as a competitor with the alcohol industry, the latter’s shift towards non-alcohol adult beverage alternatives could turn such products into a huge opportunity instead of rapidly advancing competition. Cannabis beverages can provide functionality, responsible intoxication without a hangover, and low-calorie alternatives to alcohol offerings – all key attributes appealing to the rapidly advancing sober-curious cohort.
Parallels and adjacencies in terms of branding, design and positioning are starting to emerge, with THC-forward infusions rising as an alcohol alternative, with parallels with beer, RTDs and wine, at the same time that CBD-forward concoctions are following in the footsteps of functional drinks in the soft drinks aisles. It is, however, more complex than that – additional functionalities and ingredients, ranging from other minor cannabinoids to adaptogens and from vitamins to mushrooms, will drive developments as the category comes of age.
Accessibility, premiumisation and, ultimately, normalisation will be key to the category pivoting from niche territory into the mainstream. This shift is already beginning to take shape in places where legal frameworks allow and where the on-trade is beginning to be established, as in Minnesota. Drinking rituals have always been one of the most effective ways for humans to socialise, and allowing for such rituals to thrive around cannabis holds immense potential in the medium to long term.
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