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2022 Outlook: Artificial Intelligence and Use-case Innovation Will Shape Cannabis Products, Industry in Coming Year

Brands will work to broaden appeal of cannabis by meeting specific consumer preferences through the use of AI and other technologies in product development efforts

BOULDER, Colo. (January 14, 2022) — While 2022 is positioned to be a banner year for cannabis, Wana Brands has identified two emerging trends that hold potential to change the game for cannabis manufacturers and consumers, bolstered by product innovation and new and emerging state markets. Overall cannabis sales in the United States are on pace to surpass $24 billion in 2021, a 38% increase over 2020 sales according to BDSA. Sales have remained strong in the edibles category as well, with monthly 2021 sales figures consistently outpacing 2020 across all top brands.

“Cannabis is maturing, both at the business level and among consumers,” said Nancy Whiteman, CEO of Wana Brands. “Product development is expanding to provide more specific types of effects, and consumers are growing more sophisticated in what they are seeking. The burgeoning industry is learning how to appeal to a broader set of consumers. As more U.S. markets come online, this approach toward wider appeal will continue to drive innovation and consumer preferences.”

The rise of premium products 

The growing cannabis audience includes an increasingly sophisticated connoisseur market, creating demand for premium products that provide precise terpene profiles, specialty strains and creative cannabinoid formulations. In turn, the development of new and appealing cannabis products is beginning to mimic the wide variety of craft beers, premium cigars and fine wines available to the public today. In the earliest days of the regulated market, most customers were happy just to be able to purchase cannabis legally and safely. Now they want more options and greater variety, from rare cannabinoids to innovative concentrates like live rosin.

Artificial intelligence will play a more prominent role in R&D

In 2021, Wana partnered with The Effects Lab by budboard, using artificial intelligence (AI) to precisely craft new, groundbreaking cannabis edibles to match consumer needs. The use of AI algorithms and consumer data as part of cannabis product R&D is a nascent trend that will play a significant role in product development as more brands target customer demands.

“Innovation is part of our DNA at Wana, and we’re excited to work with companies that are disrupting the old processes around developing products,” Whiteman said. “Instead of creating a product and then waiting to hear from consumers whether it hits the mark, we are starting by looking at data across thousands of user reports to identify terpenes and cannabinoids that deliver a specific effect, then integrating those into our use-case specific products.”

For Joshua Mallett, Chief Innovation Officer at The Effects Lab by budboard, working with product development teams presents an incredible opportunity to demonstrate AI’s ability to shape the next generation of cannabis products tailored to specific lifestyles.

“What we are doing with AI is very advanced and novel, and a lot of cannabis companies either don’t understand it or see it as a risk. But the benefits to consumers are almost endless,” Mallett said.

When it comes to the future of AI in cannabis product development, Mallett noted that the technology allows manufacturers to design targeted experiences from the outset instead of working through time-consuming traditional R&D methods. “We can now create much more complex blends to achieve designer lifestyle cannabis products that can fit anyone’s specific tastes,” Mallett said. 

Innovation will shift to specific use-case needs

A year ago, Wana Brands predicted that terpenes and minor cannabinoids would rise in prominence in 2021. The growing curiosity and popularity of terpene and minor formulations in part drove the development of the Wana Optimals product line, which features minor cannabinoids and terpene blends that are tailored to common wellness concerns. Other cannabis-infused product manufacturers also turned to minor cannabinoids and unique terpene profiles to more directly target consumer needs.

Looking ahead to 2022, Whiteman expects that use-case-specific products will achieve substantial growth as consumers become more aware of these product options. To succeed, however, products will need to deliver the effects they promise, which is where the work of companies like ABSTRAX and The Effects Lab by budboard can make all the difference in understanding how different cannabis plant compounds affect consumers. 

“As leading terpene researchers and producers, we are just scratching the surface of possibility when it comes to combining cannabinoids, terpenes and other cannabis plant compounds to create targeted sensory experiences via flavor and aroma,” said Max Koby, co-founder and CEO of ABSTRAX. “The pioneering research we are doing today will have a major impact on consumers’ experiences and expectations.”  

From Koby’s vantage point, functional cannabis products are trending, though there is still a lot to learn. “Currently, we are hyper-focused on the interplay between terpenes and cannabinoids, bringing the research together on entourage effects,” Koby said. “As we learn more about product outcomes, we will be able to dial in effects even more.”

Indeed, Wana is already banking on future demand for case-use-specific gummies, with additional Wana Optimals products in the pipeline for 2022.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Nancy Whiteman, please contact Shawna Seldon McGregor at 917-971-7852 or

Wana Brands: Enhance Your Life.

Included in the 2021 Inc. 5000 list at #2,675 and boasting a three-year growth rate of 152%, Wana Brands is the No. 1 edibles brand in North America. Wana leads the industry in quality, consistency and potency, providing a range of different options that enable customers to select the specific cannabis experience they want. Wana products offer diverse product forms, a wide range of CBD/THC ratios, as well as a variety of different dosages, onset times and duration of effects. Wana’s best-selling quick onset products were the first to offer a Delta-9 “smoker’s high” experience in addition to 5-15 minute onset. Wana products are available in 13 US and 9 Canadian markets, with others coming soon. For more information or to subscribe to Wana’s e-newsletter, visit Follow Wana on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Subscribe to Wana’s Enhance Your Life Podcast.

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