BDSA CEO Roy Bingham breaks down the success of Missouri marijuana and forecasts what to expect
Missouri’s cannabis market has quickly become one of the most successful in the country.
In May of this year, Missouri broke the $1 billion mark in cumulative sales of marijuana, but with the launch of adult use sales in February, the state is now poised to bring in more than $1 billion annually each year.
“We expect total sales, retail sales, to be 1.4 billion in 2023,”explained Roy Bingham, Co-Founder & CEO of BDSA. “That’s an increase of 260% over last year’s total sales. We think adult use will exceed 1 billion in its first year, and Medical will decline to just over 300 million in revenues.”
BDSA is one of the most trusted names in analytics and data for cannabis companies, offering in-depth analysis and tools for companies to better understand and track millions of data points within their business.
How did Missouri become one of the strongest recreational cannabis markets in the country so quickly?
“A number of factors, the first is that Missouri had an active legal medical cannabis program before the February adult use launch. Medical sales were $386,000,000 in 2022, and at that time, the state had 3.3% of the total population registered in the medical program. That was obviously a significant head start,” Bingham told Greenway. “The state had a large retail footprint already, and the dual-use dispensaries got off to a solid, good start. Existing cultivation and distribution infrastructure, limited relative to the scale of the adult use market, but still better than most states, was already in place. And then, the out-of-state purchases and the location of Missouri. The state shares borders with eight states, and seven of them have very limited programs or none at all. And even Illinois (factors in). Missouri’s prices are significantly lower than in Illinois. We see people are even going to Missouri from Illinois to purchase. I think all of that factors in.”
“Having those seven states around Missouri with a population of 20 million, plus Illinois is a very important factor.”
While Missouri has seen a surge in recreational marijuana sales, the number of registered medical marijuana patients, as well as medical marijuana sales, have trended downward for multiple months. But will medical marijuana numbers ever rebound?
“What we’ve encountered in other states is that medical doesn’t come back strong despite 8,10, 12% differential in taxes [between medical and recreational]. Some of it is convenience, some of it is location of adult use stores. Adult use happens to be convenient, and people are willing to pay extra. And some part of it is that people just don’t want to renew their medical cards.”
While many people will pay for convenience, BDSA has found that Missouri’s cannabis customers tend to be more frugal than the average American.
“Missouri consumers are more price-conscious,” Bingham said. “They’re more likely to prioritize low price when they choose to buy their cannabis. And in fact, in the spring survey we did, 41% cited ‘lowest prices’ as one of the most important factors when they were choosing to shop. That compares to 36% for the total country.”
With frugal customers, widely dispersed dispensaries, and uniform product selection across medical and adult use, as well as the ability for out-of-state patients to apply for medical marijuana cards in Missouri, the state could be unique in reviving the declining medical market in the coming months.
“Of all states, Missouri is the best bet for the medical market to either rebound or at least maintain.”
Understanding Missouri consumers
While we understand more consumers means more dollars in revenue, we were curious to learn more about the consumers and how they spend their dollar according to the data.
“BDSA also does consumer surveys as well as our retail sales tracking partnerships. We’ve been surveying Missouri consumers for several years, and one thing we’ve observed is that they’re slightly more likely than the aggregate, the rest of the country combined in adult-use markets, to prefer inhalable products. It’s not huge, but 63% of past six month consumers in Missouri prefer inhalables, whereas that’s 59% across the rest of the country.
“There has been a bit of a shift in Missouri since February with the launch of adult use sales. Flower’s share of the total sales has declined slightly. That’s pretty normal. It went from 49% in February down to 47% in the May retail sales tracking data, that lines up with other states. In Arizona, for example, flower went from 50% to eventually 39%, over a two year period from January 2021 to January 2023. So, it is likely that that trend will continue in Missouri.
Another category change observed by BDSA was with vaporizer products growing from about 74% of the total concentrate market to 79% by May. With emergency rules taking effect in February, some new products rolled out to dispensary shelves.
“Infused pre-rolls have seen really strong growth in Missouri since the start of adult use sales. They made up only 3% back in February, and now they’re all the way up to 11% of pre-roll sales,” Bingham explained.
Where does Missouri go from here?
“We have a projection that I think is a little conservative. BDSA does tend to be a bit conservative in our longer-term projections, we see Missouri reaching $1.8 billion annually in 2027. We think most of this will be driven by the adult use channel. We think the medical market will decline to about $200 million by 2027, so it will be $1.6 billion from adult use. And that’s really following the patterns of other states.”
Sales of $1.8 billion would put Missouri ranking 8th in sales in 2027, according to BDSA, just behind Massachusetts and slightly ahead of Pennsylvania. Colorado is expected to slip down the list but NJ and NY will have overtaken Missouri by that time.
In 2023, BDSA ranks Missouri 8th in U.S. States. Colorado and Missouri are the only states in the top 10 with a population of fewer than 7 million.
- CA – 39.2m
- MI – 10.1m
- FL – 21.8m
- IL – 12.7m
- MA – 7.0m
- CO – 5.8m
- AZ – 7.3m
- MO – 6.2m
- WA – 7.7m
- PA – 13.0m
“Missouri could be different. The state certainly got off to a faster, stronger, and seemingly more sustainable start than most states. Of course, one of the factors that we have to always bear in mind with these long-term growth projections is price changes. And so you might see significant increase in unit volume, but in most cases, you’ll see a reduction in price over time that eliminates some of the growth.”
While many other states are currently seeing lower revenues and decreasing prices on wholesale flower, the shocking demand for recreational marijuana in Missouri caused wholesale prices to climb in the early months of 2023.
“Supply issues and high prices are common in all new legal cannabis markets, whether medical or adult use. They abate in the first year or two as cultivation and production catch up with demand. As you would expect, it’s probably been exacerbated in the case of Missouri’s adult use market because of the very high demand. And so it impacted the state more than the average. Missouri rapidly converted those medical-only dispensaries to dual use, but the production infrastructure was still geared to a much smaller market, but at least it was there.
“Production was geared to a market that’s less than a third of the total. We expect supply to increase considerably over the next year to meet the relatively high demand and start to impact pricing.”
Advice on using data for your benefit
“It is really important to not only understand overall market macro trends but actually dive into, if you’re a brand, who are your target consumers? Our consumer survey data really helps to identify.”
“It’s not good enough, generally, to just have a vague idea about who the consumer is. You want to be really specific, and I don’t just mean demographics. You want to be really specific about their attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, influences, what they read, what they watch on the Internet and TV, et cetera. That really helps you to position your brand and your products for a target group that’s a decent size and growing.
“Most companies do not work very hard on ‘who is my target consumer?’, I highly encourage people to work really hard on that. And the next one is ‘Who are my competitors within the categories I care about, and how do I differentiate from them?’ You think about the attributes of the products for that particular target consumer, what matters and what doesn’t matter.
“You think about price and price trends, yes, because it ranks very high, but also things like potency. You want to think about rapid onset offset, predictability, consistency, and those sort of factors so that you can make sure that you differentiate yourself as the best for your target consumer.That doesn’t always mean you’re the lowest price or you are the highest potency. It means you have the best package for that target consumer. Those are really fundamental things that you can learn from BDSA’s retail sales tracking data.”
“Of course, you also want to have a very clear idea of the size of your target market. Back in the day when I used to develop products and marketing campaigns in the natural products industry, we always had people saying, ‘Oh, you’ve got to come up with a product for…’, in that case, children, or for elderly people, or people with a certain health condition. Then you have to do the analysis and say, yeah, but it’s a really tiny niche market and okay, if we really want to go for it, but we have to do it with very low cost in order to come up with a product that is profitable in the long run versus [something like] the adult or the female market where you knew that it could be one of our top five products, and therefore, we’re willing to commit many more resources to it.”
Bingham offers cannabis operators, and companies and general, one additional word of wisdom with regard to the relevance of information and data.
“Get an analyst, get some data nerds on your team, and get good, high-quality data, and you will outperform. It may not be obvious right now, while things are growing like gangbusters, but I can tell you when it starts to flatten off a bit and the competition gets tougher, that’s when having data analytics and people who can understand it, and form conclusions from it, gives you a big competitive advantage.”
For those who aren’t sure where to begin, Bingham has simple advice.
“Contact us. You might start off with, tell me about my ranking and my competitive market environment, et cetera. Try to ask a fairly specific question. Give a little bit of background information on whether you’re a dispensary a grower a brand, you’re trying to know something about the future, usually what’s going to happen and we’ll be happy to give you a demonstration that is tailored to you specific interests. At the end of the day, knowing that we have billions of data points is all well and good, but knowing that we have millions of data points that are relevant to your company is much more important.”
For those interested in learning more about BDSA or seeing more in-depth analysis for Missouri or any other state, visit BDSA.com.