What are the best East Coast cannabis brands? That’s entirely subjective and, despite our best efforts, (I’m looking at you, Wendy Campbell!) we haven’t been able to try them all. But we can tell you which East Coast cannabis brands are currently generating the most buzz.
First a word on the terminology. When we say “hottest,” we’re not talking sales numbers or street cred. The Pioneer Intelligence heat index measures brand awareness and engagement across three pillars–social media, earned media, and website activity. In other words, these are the East Coast-only cannabis brands that are currently generating a buzz online. So let’s take a look at the top three East Coast brands.*
Solar Cannabis Co., otherwise known as Solar Therapeutics, is a leader in sustainable cannabis in Massachusetts. They operate a dispensary in Somerset, with two dispensaries in Seekonk and Dartmouth set to open in the coming months.
The vertically integrated company recently struck a deal with Stone Road, a queer-led California cannabis company committed to organic and sustainable practices and known for some of the best pre-rolls in California. Starting in January, Solar Cannabis Co. will bring Stone Road’s hash-infused pre-rolls and flower to their Massachusetts dispensaries. Solar’s high ranking in the heat index may also be partially due to their co-hosting of the Massachusetts Cultivator’s Cup, which included performances by Cypress Hill and Method Man.
Netacare has a large indoor grow facility and two Massachusetts dispensaries. Their Northhampton location was one of the first stores in the state to open its doors to adult-use customers (in 2018), and their iconic Brookline location was the first dispensary in the Boston metro area. The shops sell a range of popular cannabis brands, but they also sell their own-inhouse strains, including Black Triangle Kush, Arcata Trainwreck, and Dread Bread.
Theory Wellness is a vertically integrated company with outdoor and indoor farms, a manufacturing facility, several Massachusetts dispensaries, and a Massachusetts cannabis delivery service. They also operate in Maine, where they have a South Portland dispensary, a Waterville dispensary, and a location in Bangor. Their in-house products include full-spectrum CO2 cartridges, 1:1 THC/CBD tincture, and cannabis edibles. Their high ranking on this list could be in part because they won the aforementioned Cultivator’s Cup, taking home best overall, best visual, best taste, and best cure. Theory Wellness is also responsible for another brand on this list, the cannabis soda Hi5, which ranks #8. To top it all off, Theory Wellness also ranks in the top ten on the nationwide heat index.
To get further insight into their success, we spoke to their VP of Marketing Thomas Winstanley. When asked for his philosophy of consumer engagement, Winstanley said, “Only speak and engage with your consumers when you have something meaningful to say. Often, brands can “over-communicate” with their consumers by over messaging less relevant things. A consumer giving you their contact information should be treated with thoughtful consideration as it’s a privilege. It’s a delicate balance.”
Winstanley also went on to say, “We are always switching up and evolving our consumer engagement strategies. At the end of the day, the consumer will tell you how they want to interact with your brand. If you listen to them and meet them where they are, you will likely find success. We often think we know what the consumer wants, but we never do.”
Our #1 takeaway from the list? All three brands in the top three are vertically integrated, which makes sense. Dispensaries generate web traffic and a company with multiple facilities is likely to have more opportunities to generate social and earned media–like press when they open a new location. Secondly, Massachusetts is a common denominator. In fact, seven of the ten brands on this list operate in the state. This is also no surprise, given that MA is the biggest fully functional market of the included states.
Speaking of big, big ups to all the brands on this list! And, without further ado, here are the top ten hottest East Coast cannabis brands:
*These are cannabis brands that only sell on the Eastern Seaboard, by which we mean Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. We’re excluding Florida from the list because, as we all know, Florida is its own deal.
Pioneer Intelligence leverages data to benchmark marketing performance of consumer-facing cannabis brands. Built by a group of experienced and passionate marketers and data scientists, Pioneer helps industry stakeholders better understand how communications strategies resonate with audiences. In early 2021, Pioneer launched its first products, a suite of marketing performance scorecards. These reports present actionable data across three focus areas: social media, earned media and web-related activities. More information can be found on the company’s website, https://pioneer.buzz.
Disclaimer: Pioneer currently has more than 621 brands in their active pool with hundreds more 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].