Sales of topical cannabis products grew rapidly in Colorado, Washington and Oregon during 2016, rising from $14.42 million in 2015 to $26.39 million last year. That year-to-year 83 percent boost in dollar sales is impressive, although the topicals market remains a relatively small slice of the $2.33 billion cannabis pie (mmm … cannabis pie).
Still, topicals represent a healthy, and swiftly growing, marketplace for cannabis entrepreneurs and business people. And the category may offer more immediate cross-over appeal to cannabis newbies than some other market categories.
A variety of different styles of products characterize the topicals market, ranging from lotions to sprays to massage oils. But one subcategory in particular gained impressive traction during 2016: balms and salves.
Consider: In 2015, the category captured 22 percent of the topicals market in all three states combined, with $3 million in sales. But in 2016, sales tripled to $9 million, and the subcategory’s claim on market share grew quite a bit, to 33 percent; last year, balms became the market leader among topicals. Balms’ boosted market share came at the expense of patches, which sank from 26 percent market share in 2015 to 19 percent in 2016 (and dropping it from the category leader in 2105 to second place last year), and creams, which fell from 19 percent ot 15 percent.
We see the rise, to different degrees, in Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
The most dramatic market-share acceleration occurred in Washington, where balms’ numbers rose from 23 percent in 2015 to 43 percent just one year later. That is growth! Meanwhile, sales of topicals overall in the state rose from $1.06 million in 2015 to $3.99 million, a 276.5 percent rise.
The story is similar in Oregon, where balms grabbed 34 percent of the market in 2015 but rose to 44 percent in 2016. Sales in Washington of any category of cannabis product usually eclipse sales in Oregon, but Oreganders really like their balms, spending $4.23 million in 2016 — just a touch higher than sales in Washington.
In Colorado, balms stood in third place (20 percent) in the 2015 topicals market, behind patches (29 percent) and creams (21 percent). But balms vaulted to No. 1 in 2016, with 28 percent of the $18.17 million 2016 market. Meanwhile, patches fell to 25 percent and creams to 18 percent.
When it comes to the topicals marketplace, entrepreneurs are crafting a number of different styles of products, many of which show great promise. For now, though, balms seem to have the most buzz.