The way top cultivators approach cannabis strains and sourcing their genetics is like putting together a good baseball team. Commercial cultivators need a powerful lineup of strains with compatible cultivation requirements that still offer consumers the novelty and variation they crave. And cultivators need to be ready to rotate this season’s winners and losers in and out of the lineup to stay ahead of the curve.
Every cultivator wants to have the next must-try cannabis strain in his or her flower room. But it’s not always easy to predict the strains cannabis enthusiasts will be craving a few months from now, and it can be tricky deciding where to allocate budget for clones, seeds and genetics. Knowing which strains are the star pitchers and which are the right fielders requires deep knowledge of what dispensary buyers are looking for.
What Cannabis Consumers Want From Their Strains
Flower remains the top-selling product category, even as younger generations and growing consumer segments like women favor vapes and edibles. But analysis by MJ Brand Insights found that frequent flower purchasers “rarely display the brand and product loyalty found in beverage alcohol. This is due in part to the inconsistent, small-batch nature of cannabis, and in part to the body’s tendency to become less sensitive to repeated exposure to a specific strain or terpene profile.”
Studies show that 38% of beer drinkers, for example, are loyalists who demand the consistency of a particular brand and pattern of consumption, while 25% are willing to experiment and routinely seek out new beer varieties, flavors and hop profiles, regardless of price. Trends in the cannabis industry look quite different, however, with a larger percentage of cannabis consumers devoted to exploration and novelty. That means top cultivators can rarely rest on their laurels, and instead, must keep pitching new phenotypes to the market.
Cannabis customers tend to self-segment by budget and education. Most shoppers are looking for strains at the sweet spot of peak potency for the lowest price and don’t mind smoking popcorn, shake and pre-rolls. A smaller number of seekers are consistently hunting for new strains, effects and terpene combinations, and rarely repeat a past purchase. Then there are weekend warriors who, lacking a strong background in cannabis, follow budtender recommendations regardless of price or whether a strain is still up-and-coming or on-trend.
How to Build Your Strain Menu
With that rough ratio of consumer preferences in mind, the path forward for cultivators planning their menus month to month becomes clearer. Think of the facility’s total yield like that baseball team’s salary cap. It’s wise to invest in the very best genetics and phenotypes possible, not only to please connoisseur customers but also to compete with cultivators who may be bringing the same strains to dispensary buyers. In the end, you’re looking for a mix of MVPs—some strains require more substantial investments than others—and rookies with potential.
Imagine you have 20 strains on deck at your grow facility at any given time. Each fiscal quarter, you might bring in five new strains. By the end of the year, you’ll have had the opportunity to completely refresh your cannabis genetics lineup. Some of the strains that get rotated out might simply be old news—or a new strain that never quite took off. Others can stay on the back burner in the strain library for the time being until the market conditions are right to bring those plants back into the veg and flower rooms.
Of those strains rotating in and out, each needs to be distinctive and offer something unique to the menu. Just like you wouldn’t have a baseball team made up of nine pitchers, you want each strain to offer different terpene profiles and flavors. To inform which strains to slot in and out for any given grow cycle, be sure to foster relationships with breeders so you know which seeds and clones they’re working on. Talking with breeders, like talking to feeder teams, can help cultivators stay on top of what new developments might be coming down the pike.
A genetic consultant can help create a plan for maintaining and updating a diverse strain library, and can take the guess work out of selecting from hundreds of different online clone vendors and thousands of different strain names. Ready to get started? Just reach out.