It’s tough to escape the marijuana vape pen in California. Cannabis consumers across the state embrace the wands of cannabis extract with such ardor that they command more market share than in any other state with legal recreational cannabis. During the first quarter of 2018, vape sales captured 80 percent of the entire Golden State concentrates market according to cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics. In second place, far behind vapes, was wax, which captured a measly 5 percent of the market. By comparison, vape sales in Colorado represented 41 percent of the concentrates market during the quarter and both wax and shatter sales hit 17 percent market share respectively.
When It Comes To Sales, Disposable Vapes Aren’t Throw-Aways
It’s not just your imagination — vapes are king of the concentrates hill from Eureka to San Diego.
And one niche of the vape universe — disposables — is growing at a rapid clip in all states with legal weed, including California:
Oregon – Q1 2018 vs. Q1 2017 saw a 2185% increase in sales.
Colorado – Q1 2018 vs. Q1 2017 saw an 80% increase in sales.
Measuring year-over-year growth in California is not fruitful due to the pivot from medical to recreational cannabis sales on January 1, but just examining 2018 shows growth. In January of this year, for example, disposable sales in California hit $3.4 million. Just two months later, in March, sales nearly doubled, reaching $6.42. Today, vapes own 10 percent of the California vape market, but a year ago, under the old medical regime, they held just 5 percent of vape sales.
What About Distillates?
Things grow even more interesting when we examine disposable vapes filled with THC distillate rather than oil. Distillate is the new kid on the block in all states with recreational cannabis sales. During March of last year in Colorado, for example, distillate disposable vapes represented 33 percent of disposable sales. But this past March distillate disposable sales eclipsed oil, capturing 55 percent of the market. Growth in Oregon is strong too. In January of this year consumers spent just $12,000 on disposable vapes filled with distillate, but in March they boosted sales more than six-fold, to $81,000.
Sales of disposable distillate vapes lags far behind in California, where during March of this year they garnered 16 percent of the disposable vape market, and the market share was the same during January of this year. However in the non-disposable vape market, distillate sales grew markedly this year, from $6 million in January to $16 million in March. Will distillate fever catch-on within disposables? Time will tell.
Never Underestimate The Influence Of Disposable Vape Prices
One of the disposable advantages in Colorado and Oregon is price. The average disposable vape in Colorado during Q1 sold for $26.54, but the hit to the wallet was $35 for non-disposables. In Oregon during the quarter, the average disposable was $28.19, but $40.40 for non-disposable. The significant prices differences in these states may help explain the rise of disposables. But the same trend has not yet rooted in California, where the average price for both non-disposable and disposable vapes is about $42.
One clear disposable advantage hinges on simplicity. While non-disposable vape pens require that consumers replace old cartridges with new ones, disposables are finished when the last drop of extract is vaporized. Non-disposable vape pens can be finicky — people often complain that they don’t last long before sputtering. But disposables are designed to last only as long as they are filled with extract.
And then there is what may be disposables’ biggest advantage — size and discretion. Vape pens already are slender affairs that can slide into nearly any pocket without notice. But disposables are even sleeker, many no longer than a cigarette and about as big around as a chopstick’s waist. For pot enthusiasts who want the ultimate in discretion, a disposable vape hits the eye of the bullseye.
Sales of vapes are booming everywhere, and non-disposables dominate sales, capturing between 90 and 95 percent of the vape marketplace in most states. But sales of disposables are ramping up. The disposable marketplace is an increasingly tantalizing one for brands and retailers.