All posts by Steve

Professor of Marketing & International Business; Consultant

Who’s Your Daddy? Identifying the Top Five Cannabis Parent Strains

As more states approve medical and recreational access to cannabis, consistency of strain genetics is becoming more important from both a consumer and industry perspective. New strains are introduced to the market with increased frequency. What cannabis strains are the most active parents?

The data for this project comes from Leafly and includes parent information for 1,497 strains of the 2232 strains that list at least one parent. Only parentage relationships are explored – regardless of whether a parent is listed as mother or father.  The data were reformatted to allow for input into a social network analysis.

Based on the analysis, the top five cannabis parents as of April 2017, are:

Strain Progeny
OG Kush (hybrid) 114
Afghani (indica) 113
Blueberry (indica) 87
Skunk #1 (hybrid) 84
Sour Diesel (sativa) 63*
White Widow (hybrid) 63*

*tie

It is interesting to note that three of the top six parents are hybrid strains, and thus the children of other strains. And it is surprising, in my opinion, that the most prodigious parent is a hybrid strain (assumed to be the child of Chemdawg and Hindu Kush).

As with any research, this study has limitations. First, it is based on data from the second week of April 2017. The second limitation is that the data is from one source. And finally, for some strains (e.g., OG Kush above) the parentage is not certain.

For both medical and recreational cannabis retailers, the implications are clear: knowing which strains to breed and which strains to offer is becoming increasingly important as consumer tastes and sophistication evolve.

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What’s in a Name? A Cannabis Strain Word Cloud

The number of cannabis strains reviewed on Leafly exceeds 2,200. As amazing as this is to those unfamiliar with the industry, even more amazing is the number of new strains added weekly. In April, information on 2,232 strains was web-scrapped from the Leafly site. For marketers, the branding of cannabis deserves further investigation. The purpose of this post is to start that conversation.

Before exploring branding, the initial question is what type of cannabis do consumers prefer – hybrid, indica or sativa? To determine the answer to this question requires us to assume that the total number of strains available reflects consumer preference. While this assumption may not be true, it serves as a surrogate for attributes that consumers find appealing.

Based on the above, and given the data available, it appears that consumers prefer hybrid strains. Of the 2,232 strains listed on Leafly in April, 1,128 are hybrid (50.54 percent), 665 are indica (29.79 percent) and 439 are sativa (19.67 percent).

What are the most popular brand names or components of brand names for existing strains? To find out, we developed a Word Cloud. Word Clouds are visual representations of text data with the size of the text indicating the frequency of word use. Thus, larger words in the cloud are used more frequently. All existing strain names were input into a Word Cloud generator and the resulting graphic is presented below.

Some results were expected, some were a surprise. Prior to this analysis, the researchers didn’t know that 110 strain names began with the word Bhang. Other popular strain branding names include OG, Kush, Haze, White, Purple, Diesel, Blue, Sour and Skunk. Colors, fruits, tastes and/or effects dominate current branding efforts.

One issue of concern is that strain naming isn’t standardized. Thus, it’s possible for the same strain to have two different names depending on where and when it was developed. For instance, LA Cheese (strain name in Amsterdam) is known as Confidential Cheese on Leafly. Until a master list of strains that includes genetic testing exists, there is no guarantee that what you’re purchasing is what is being advertised.

Cannabis branding, both for medical and recreational purposes, is an exciting area of study for marketers. As the industry expands, consistency in branding becomes more critical and important.

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The Top 20 Cannabis Strains as Rated on Leafly for 4.20

What better way to celebrate 4.20, our first in Massachusetts with legal recreational cannabis, than combining one’s passion for statistics and fast-growing businesses? I wish that I could take full credit for using the statistical software package R to web-scrape the Leafly site (https://www.leafly.com/) in order to identify the top 20 cannabis strains for 4.20.17, but that honor goes to one of my statistically adept progeny.  He supplied me with the consumer ratings of the 2,232 cannabis strains listed on the site.

The methodology was simple:  Identify the top 20 strains, according to consumer ratings. To minimize small sample bias, strains with fewer than 100 reviews were eliminated. Doing so reduced the number of strains from 2,232 to 437.  The top 20 strains for this year’s 4.20 celebration are presented below. Overall, Gelato is the top rated strain on Leafly, according to consumers. Of the top 20, 14 are Hybrid, five are Indica and one is Sativa. Thus, a clear consumer preference (70 percent) exists for Hybrid strains.

Strain Name Category Ratings Stars
Gelato Hybrid 357 4.755
Blue Cookies Hybrid 265 4.75
Papa’s OG Indica 113 4.73
Alien Rock Candy Hybrid 135 4.72
Purple Hindu Kush Indica 112 4.72
Superglue Hybrid 141 4.71
Khalifa Kush Hybrid 488 4.68
Orange Cookies Hybrid 135 4.68
Gorilla Glue #4 Hybrid 3,113 4.675
24k Gold Hybrid 110 4.665
Quantum Kush Sativa 185 4.66
Dogwalker OG Hybrid 176 4.66
Sugar Shack Hybrid 101 4.655
Death Bubba Indica 186 4.65
Kimbo Kush Hybrid 120 4.645
Sunset Sherbet Hybrid 644 4.64
Rainbow Hybrid 109 4.64
Blue God Indica 131 4.635
Paris OG Indica 208 4.62
Middlefork Hybrid 119 4.62

Did your top choice make the list?

The strain with the highest number of ratings on the Leafly site is Blue Dream, with 12,171. How amazing is that? Of the ten most rated strains, five are Hybrid, three are Sativa and two are Indica. Once again, Hybrid strains dominate.

Strain Name Category Ratings Stars
Blue Dream Hybrid 12,171 4.395
Sour Diesel Sativa 7,046 4.38
Girl Scout Cookies Hybrid 6,217 4.485
Green Crack Sativa 5,539 4.325
OG Kush Hybrid 4,837 4.355
Granddaddy Purple Indica 3,980 4.42
White Widow Hybrid 3,717 4.355
Jack Herer Sativa 3,611 4.4
Gorilla Glue #4 Hybrid 3,113 4.675
Bubba Kush Indica 3,007 4.305

Enjoy your 420 celebration, preferably with one of the top rated cannabis strains according to your friends at Leafly.

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