Your flower is gorgeous, your grind is consistent and your pre-rolls are perfectly packed in bulk pre-rolled cones.
But producing a high-quality pre-roll is just the beginning. The next step is picking the proper packaging to not only stand out among the rows and rows of other pre-rolls but to signal to consumers that the product inside is the right one for them.
But what’s the best way to package your pre-rolls?
Pre-roll packaging goals
The most important consideration when choosing pre-roll packaging is recognizing exactly what your goals are. First and foremost, your pre-roll packaging should maintain and protect the quality of the pre-roll inside, or else what was the point of all that work?
To best protect product quality, it is important to make sure your pre-roll packaging is as air-tight as possible to keep your pre-roll as fresh as possible when it reaches the consumer. And when it comes to cannabis, air is the enemy of freshness because it can dry out your flower, damaging the cannabinoids that pack the punch and the terpenes that give it its flavor, not to mention make it burn quicker, hotter, and harsher.
To ensure freshness, it’s important to choose air-tight packaging. Many plastic pop-top doob tubes, the most popular packaging option for pre-rolls, provide an air-tight seal but make sure you ask your pre-roll supplier to make sure you are getting the right ones.
Additionally, producers can add a humidity pack to their packaging (especially multi-packs) to keep them from getting stale or even use an over-wrap or shrink wrap around the packaging to help seal out unwanted air and maintain product freshness.
Pre-roll packaging materials
When choosing pre-roll packaging the first decision that needs to be made is on materials. From paper and plastic to higher-end choices like glass or tin, the packaging material you choose should reflect your branding and brand promise. For example, if your brand is built on being eco-friendly or sustainable, then plastic is probably not the right choice unless they are hemp-based, compostable or even made with reclaimed ocean plastic.
But each material has its own pros and cons, so make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Plastic pre-roll packaging
The most common packaging option, plastic pop-top doob tubes are easily the most recognizable and ubiquitous piece of pre-roll packaging in the marketplace. Among the alternatives, it is also a relatively inexpensive option, and with many colors and sizes available, it is also the easiest to match to your branding, even without customization.
However, if you do choose to customize your plastic pop-top packaging, you can easily do so through Pantone Color Matching or adding custom-designed labels featuring your brand logo and message.
Consumers are also comfortable with plastic tubes, whether the plastic pop-top variety or more premium options, like clear plastic with twist-off or Super Seal caps that can lock in freshness.
Plastic pre-roll options can also be eco-friendly, though with a bit more cost. Recycled or reclaimed ocean plastics, for example, can be a selling point for brands that lean into being green.
Glass pre-roll packaging
Often the favorite for storing top shelf flower, glass jars, and tubes signify a more premium item among cannabis consumers. With a touch more weight to them and a smooth, luxurious feel, glass tubes and jars tell shoppers that the pre-rolls inside are worth protecting from the elements. Glass also allows customers to see the product before buying, which can be especially useful for marketing infused pre-rolls, pre-roll blunts or customized pre-rolls that feature your company’s logo on the crutch.
A better moisture barrier than plastic, glass tubes can also be airtight and child-resistant, depending on your choice of caps, plus they are available in a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate everything from single, mini “dogwalker” pre-rolls up to full gram pre-roll blunts and even wider tubes that are big enough to be used as multi-packs.
Available in clear and opaque options (required in some markets), glass is also fully recyclable and can simply be tossed into any household recycling bin for pick-up, making them a premium eco-friendly pre-packaging choice for high-end and luxury brands.
Tin pre-roll packaging
A truly premium piece of packaging, people tend to save tins for longer than other packaging, which means customizing a slider or flip tin can provide brand recognition and advertising for years to come. Sleek and stylish, tin pre-roll packaging also protects your products from being damaged in a pocket or purse, especially with insert trays to keep the pre-rolls in place.
The tins, which include several child-resistant options and are recyclable, are also a blank slate, perfect for customization. And while minimum order quantities in fully customized tins can get pretty high, stock tins and custom labels can be applied at very reasonable rates.
As for being airtight, it depends on the pre-roll tin, however, shrink wrapping or overwrapping the tin will protect the pre-rolls inside from moisture degradation, though it does make the overall product less eco-friendly even if the tin remains recyclable.
Paper pre-roll packaging
The cheapest and most eco-friendly of all packing materials, paper is also the most adaptable and customizable of any of the other pre-roll packaging materials. It can also be made to run the gamut from budget options up to luxury products, depending on design and choice.
Push packs and pull packs both make excellent packaging choices, as do cigarette-style boxes that add a level of nostalgic familiarity. And all, because of the nature of the material, are customizable so you can make sure your branding and message truly stand out on shelves.
However, on the downside, paper and cardboard pre-roll packaging is not airtight due to the permeable nature of the material. So when choosing a paper option, it’s important to consider adding an overwrap, which not only locks in freshness but also signifies to consumers a more premium item. There are also fewer single-serving options made from paper, with this packaging type being a better choice for multi-packs.
“Green” plastic pre-roll packaging
As mentioned, plastic pre-roll packaging, aside from being recyclable, also comes in several eco-friendly forms, though some are more friendly than others.
For example, many plastic doob tubes will advertise as being biodegradable or compostable, but it’s important to recognize what those words mean. “Biodegradable” does not always mean “eco-friendly,” especially when it comes to plastic. It just means that the plastic will break down to smaller pieces, but those can still become microplastics that find their way into the ocean and the food chain. That can give consumers – and producers – a false sense of security that their product is green when it’s not and in many cases, simply using recyclable plastic doob tubes is a better option since they can just be tossed in recycling bins.
Even “hemp plastic” includes polymers that don’t ever fully disappear.
“Compostable,” on the other hand, is a more specific term that means the product will break down to compost, or organic material. But it’s also important to remember that to be truly compostable, the labels must also be compostable.
Pre-roll packaging compliance
It’s impossible to talk about pre-roll packaging without noting that different states and markets have different regulations regarding what is allowed and what is not. Some states require pre-rolls to be packaged in child-resistant packages while others do not. Some states require the product to be in opaque packaging instead of clear. Some states require tamper-evident bands that leave a plastic ring around the tube to note it’s already been opened.
Some states even limit the types of materials that can be used in pre-roll packaging. Vermont, for example, does not allow the use of plastic in pre-roll packaging.
Make sure you fully understand the packaging regulations in your market before choosing packaging and always work with a pre-poll supplier that understands the ins and outs of each market to make sure you don’t waste money on packaging you can’t use.
Pre-roll packaging size choices
Choosing what goes in your packaging can be as important as the pre-roll packaging itself. The size and number of pre-rolls in each package is entirely up to you, but it’s important to know what consumers are buying before heading to market.
According to industry analytics firm Headset, pre-roll sales in the U.S. are split nearly 50/50 between single-packed pre-rolls and multi-packs that hold multiple pre-rolls, though the recent growth has been in the multipack format, jumping from 27.7% of the market in 2018. However, in Canada, the multi-pack dominates, with nearly 83% of pre-rolls being purchased in multi-packs.
According to Headset, that might be due to the fact that in the U.S., about 41% of pre-roll sales are 1-gram joints, whereas Canadian smokers lean toward multipacks containing 1.5 grams or 3.5 grams, capturing 35.6% and 16.7% of the market, respectively.
So while it’s important to always offer single-packed pre-rolls, including the popular 1-gram size, in order to give customers an easy way to try your brand, multipacks help build customer loyalty as they pull from the same branded pack for the whole week. Two – 5-gram packs of pre-rolls are selling very well right now, with 10-packs of 0.3-gram mini “dogwalker” pre-rolls on the rise, as are 5-7 gram packs of 98mm 0.7-gram pre-rolls and 84mm 0.5-gram pre-rolls. Some brands even offer 14-28 gram multi-packs.
Pre-roll packaging display boxes
Finally, what’s the point of making sure your pre-roll packaging is perfect if customers can’t see it anyway? That’s why it’s important to add display boxes to your repertoire, which further advertise your perfectly packaged pre-rolls to consumers and can lead to add-on sales at the register.
Not only do they draw the eye, display boxes also take up additional shelf space that could be going to other brands. They also help dispensary and retail employees re-stock supply faster because there are places specifically designed for pre-rolls that need to be filled, encouraging buyers to pick up supplies in whatever denomination the display box holds. It also gives you, as the producer, more control over how your product is displayed, handling your merchandizing for you.
However because dispensaries are all set up differently, not every store will want the same display box, which is why they come in three main varieties. There are point-of-purchase displays that sit near the register. There are gravity displays with flip-out bottoms that hold up to 75 pre-roll packages and make it easy for customers to grab a handful and go. And finally, there are clear acrylic gravity displays that can be hung on walls, keeping your pre-rolls organized and easily accessible.
All of these options are also available in unbranded or custom varieties, including custom dielines, to give you control over exactly what your display looks like. And if you have a display box emblazoned with your brand’s logo and colors and your competitors don’t, your product is going to look like a more premium option on the shelves.
Final thoughts on pre-roll packaging
Pre-rolls are one of the fastest-growing categories and customers are even making their own pre-rolls at home. Offering pre-rolled cones for consumers is a great way to reach consumers who worry about the quality and freshness of store-bought pre-rolls.
While it’s true that the quality of your pre-rolls is what will keep customers coming back over and over, the quality of your packaging simply cannot be overlooked in the modern, competitive cannabis market. Your choice of packaging tells consumers a lot about your product, your brand, and your company, as well as keeps your product protected and safe.
Finally, always work with a pre-roll supplier that understands how your pre-roll packaging affects both the freshness of your product and the compliance needs of your market to ensure that you get the pre-roll packaging that makes the most sense for your business.