The legal cannabis market is hotboxed with THC-infused candies, calming and energizing beverages and other products that, without the marijuana injection, would seem a lot like the stuff of mainstream packaged goods. But when companies the growing industry need fusty old data, there's no industry analysis group -- like the IRI or NPD Group -- to reference, for example, how cannabis-enhanced chocolate confectionery brands measure up in particular markets.
That's where a new firm like BDS Analytics come in. When Dixie Elixirs, known for its tart candies and fruity THC-laced drinks, aimed to develop a new product line that took advantage of gaps in the market, it looked to the subscription research data firm.
Dixie Elixirs -- which already offers 30 different products in the candy tarts, chocolate, gummies and beverage categories -- needed data in order to find new opportunities. According to Joe Hodas, CMO of Dixie Elixirs, the company wondered whether there were market areas to fill with a less-expensive value product in a certain category, or whether there is room for additional competition.
BDS data shows that in 2016 cannabis-infused gummie candy, chocolate bars and baked goods were the top-selling edibles categories in Colorado recreational and medicinal dispensaries.
However, the firm's analysis of BDS data uncovered new, albeit less whimsical, category than candy: pills. Just a few weeks ago, Dixie launched the first product in its new line, a pill that combines a dose of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, with botanicals and other components. Dubbed Dr. Stash, the brand logo features an old-timey mustache.
"It's not quite as sexy as, say chocolates or other product lines," admitted Hodas, who said the company evaluated the top 10 products selling in the pill category and decided to enrich its versions with added botanicals as a way to differentiate from other products.
"No one in the top 10 of this category has any differentiated products other than by dose or [cannabis flower] strain or price point," he said. The BDS data revealed that.
"It's been a lot of fun, actually, to bring data to an industry that is so starved for data," said Elizabeth Stahura, president of BDS Analytics, who had close to 10 years working in consumer research roles at NPD Group and its subsidiary Leisure Trends, which tracks the athletic apparel and equipment industries, before co-founding the company.
Available to recreational cannabis consumers in Colorado,Morning Sativa Plus features ginseng, ginkgo and orange oil and is intended to spark energy, clarity and sociability. Night Indica Plus includes passionflower, lemon balm and peppermint oil to soothe anxiety, nervousness and general restlessness.
Stratos, another maker in the category, offers immediate-release THC-infused tablets branded as Sleep, Relax and Energy. However, the firm's tablets come in 10 mg or 50 mg varieties. Armed with BDS data, Dixie spotted an opening for pills featuring a relatively low 5 mg dose, considered a sensible amount to ingest, especially for beginner cannabis consumers.