Curious about cannabis soda? What are the hottest cannabis beverages nationwide? Some of the contenders might surprise you. For this month’s top ten hottest list, we’re taking a look at the liquid category across 32 US states. Which THC drinks and cannabis sodas are generating the most attention?
First a word on the terminology. When we say “hottest,” we’re not talking sales numbers. The Pioneer Intelligence heat index measures consumer engagement across three pillars–social media, earned media, and website activity. In the heat index weightings, Pioneer values change over position — emphasizing performance on recent activities over long-term strength. So a brand that had a small amount of social media followers but gained many followers could compete against a brand that had a huge amount of followers to begin with.
When I look at these lists, my first thought is “Damn, it must feel pretty good to be in the top ten.” But my first question is always, “Why? What are these brands doing right?” So this month I decided to dig a little deeper and talk to some of the brands in question.
Andrew Floor, senior vice president of brand marketing at BellRock Brands, says that for Dixie Elixirs the focus is on forming an emotional connection with consumers. He sees all three pillars of consumer engagement as equally crucial to this goal.
“Earned media helps drive awareness and credibility which intrigues people enough to want to learn more. Social is the portal, a way to bring the brand essence and personality to life, and to showcase the community we’ve built – our ‘friends and family’ as we like to call it,” he says. “The website is the quintessential brand experience, bringing it all together via an educational and informational ‘window to our brand’s soul.’ It’s not always as linear as this, so all pillars have to complement and supplement one another, shining a spotlight on specific parts of the same brand narrative.”
Dixie has been in the game for a long time–11years–and Floor says their approach to consumer education hasn’t changed much. Canyon, another pioneering brand, echoes this commitment to consistency. “We move slow and steady,” says COO Timothy M. McMurray. “We have built a solid foundation and don’t fall in line with the trendy ‘new hot’ things on the market. We believe this has allowed consumers to trust us and our products because our belief system hasn’t changed in 11 years.”
Neither of these brands have made changes in their consumer engagement, which would seem to indicate that any uptick in popularity is the result of cumulative gains from solid long-term strategies.
Meanwhile, relative newcomer Artet’s modern approach to Instagram earned them a top three position. The aperitif brand, which launched in California in 2019, was a forerunner in the current trend of cannabis beverages modeled on craft cocktails, and we’ve previously noted their thoughtful and elegant branding. Co-founder Xander Shepard explains their consumer engagement strategy: “While the implicit goal of our consumer engagement is to drive education for Artet, our primary focus is to showcase the interests of our team more so than the direct selling on product benefits. Everyone is constantly getting marketed to on IG by brands, so for us we’d rather focus on product photography, animations, and illustrations that offer relief to your social feed and provide insight into who we are and what inspires us. This was our goal from the start, but as we’ve learned and refined the output, we’ve seen the rate at which our content gets shared grows significantly.”
Eliza Robson, senior director of brand and content at Cann, which holds the #1 spot, echoes this approach to Instagram. “Our motto is “be a friend, not a brand,” she says. (It seems to be working for them–Cann is currently ranking #11 in the nation across all cannabis categories and has been lauded as one of this year’s breakout brands.)
Although these top cannabis soda and THC aperitif brands may be employing different strategies to engage consumers, it’s clear that they’re all putting thought into crafting cohesive brand identities. Cheers to their success!
Disclaimer: Pioneer currently has more than 550 brands in their active pool with another 250 brands in their pipeline. Pipeline brands require six months of data before being added to the active pool. Lists of both active and pipeline brands can be found at pioneer.buzz/brands. If you would like to request your brand be tracked by Pioneer, please email [email protected].