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Cannabis companies are taking a cue from mainstream corporations and generating excitement by creating limited edition products. 

California-based lifestyle and cannabis brand Cookies is well known for its limited-edition drops. When the company announces the drop of a new strain, lines form for blocks outside of participating dispensaries. 

“We find exclusive drops to be a very effective tool for both brands and the cannabis community,” said Louis Santillana, vice president of operations for the Cookies Denver dispensary. “Since a lot of these strains are only grown in small batches, exclusive drops help drive the FOMO (fear of missing out) mentality. From an operations perspective, it’s always exciting to see customers line up before the store opens in hopes of being able to purchase something rare or exclusive.”

It’s no secret that scarcity can lead to an increase in demand and greater perceived value while creating hype and visibility for brands. Limited edition products also have a sense of exclusivity and prestige, which drives sales. 

Among the limited edition promotions Denver-based Veritas Fine Cannabis offers is its Pheno Hunt series, in which they release a limited number of boxes that feature a gram of three different phenotypes of a strain, a grinder, lighter, and rolling papers.

Veritas offers between 700 and 1,000  boxes, which typically sell out in two to three weeks. 

Consumers can vote for their favorite phenotype online, with the winning cut becoming a regular in the company’s more widely available rotation of strains. People who review the products have the opportunity to win a prize.

“We want to incentivize that feedback,” said Jordan Plunkett, the company’s marketing director.

Veritas created another limited edition promotion centered around the Major League Baseball All-Star Game held in Denver last summer. The company put three pre-rolled joints and a rally towel in a “beer can” it created for the event. People who purchased the cans, which sold out within a month, could enter a code for a chance to win tickets to the game. 

Veritas provides in-store displays and education for budtenders so they can talk about the products knowledgeably. 

The strategy seems to be working. Veritas fans talk about drops online and ask about the next time the company plans to do a product launch. 

“We like to build up hype a few weeks prior to launching the product,” Plunkett said. “We work with our store partners to make sure they have all the marketing material they need.”

Like Veritas, Plus Products has developed limited edition campaigns around events like  Gay Pride when it created a special gummy and paired sales of the edible products with a donation to relevant charities. 

“The basis of that success helped us understand that there’s an appetite in the marketplace for products that are only available for a limited amount of time,” said Tara Soltow, the company’s vice president of marketing.

Plus Products typically makes 10,000 units for a limited edition release and puts a cap on the number retailers are allowed to pre-order. It provides its retail partners with digital assets and in-store marketing materials so customers know what’s coming.

“Consumers know they have to go into the store ASAP,” Soltow said.

California grower Glass House Brands Inc.’s F/ELD has partnered with Doja Pak and Wizard Trees for an exclusive launch of two new strains available at The Pottery in Los Angeles, Farmacy Berkeley, Farmacy Santa Ana, and Farmacy Santa Barbara. The goal is to deliver exclusive award-winning extracts, and the two strains featured in the limited drop are made with fresh frozen flower with no added or reintroduced terpenes. 

“We’re doing a lot of strain-development work,” Glass House President Graham Farrar said. “The newness, variety, and exploration is really fresh in cannabis. It’s such a nascent and young industry.”

But when it comes to limited edition marketing in medical-only states, the strategy can be hit or miss. 

“We are a pure medical market,” said Robert Beasley, CEO of Florida-based Fluent Cannabis. “You’re not going to see heavy recreation-type releases here. You still have to be a medical card holder, so we’re not tapping into a recreational following that tracks the latest and greatest.”

Even so, Fluent has tried the strategy, offering limited releases of Bubble Gum Diesel and Gary Payton, which was developed specifically for a limited release. Fluent released 12,000 units of the flower, but sales began to slow after 3,500. 

“High-end users are here, but they’re not buying medical marijuana — they’re buying old school,” Beasley said. 

But Fluent’s experience is an exception to the general rule that limited edition products are a sure-fire way to build excitement around a brand.

“Limited allocation of a product creates an appetite for it,” said Soltow of Plus Products. “You always want what you can’t have.”

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