Willie Nelson Reserve Marijuana Commands 50% Price Premium

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Star power. There’s nothing like it. It’s the reason we see star athletes promoting footwear and other athletic gear and movie stars promoting just about anything. That star power is now being felt in one of the country’s newest industries: legal sales of marijuana.

According to a recent analysis, the average markup on celebrity-branded strains of marijuana is about 24% higher. In Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, “Leafs by Snoop” (Snoop Dog) averaged an 11.1% premium, and “Willie’s Reserve” (Willie Nelson) commanded a hefty 50% price premium. “Chong’s Choice” (Tommy Chong) showed no premium at all.

Chong’s Choice performs better in Oregon where its average premium is 10%. In Washington, Willie’s Reserve’s premium drops to around 25%.

Monday’s average price for an eighth of an ounce of unbranded Bubba Kush in Colorado was $31.24. A gram cost $11.01. At the Lucy Sky dispensaries in Denver, an eighth ounce of Willie’s Reserve OG Bubba Kush costs $45.00 ($15.00 per gram), a premium of 44% for an eighth and 36% for a gram.

The celebrity-backed products offer a branded version of traditional flower. How the brand is positioned in the market contributes to the premium it commands. According to Marijuana Business Daily, the difference is marked:

Purchase an eighth of Chong’s Choice at a recreational shop and the flower will be taken from a jar, measured and put in the same type of packaging that the store would use for any other strain of flower.

On the other end of the spectrum, Willie’s Reserve and Leafs by Snoop strains are sold pre-packaged. Both sport heavily branded and stylized packaging reminiscent of high end consumer electronics.

Only about 2% of a store’s inventory is given over to celebrity-branded products, but there is no shortage of competition for the shelf space. In addition to Chong, Nelson and Snoop, there’s Wiz Khalifa, Whoopi Goldberg and the late Bob Marley.