OCS CEO’s Price Strategy: Fueling Growth & Empowering Producers


OCS CEO’s Price Strategy: Fueling Growth & Empowering Producers

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The legalization of cannabis in Canada brought about significant changes in the market landscape. However, as the industry matures, a concerning trend known as the “race to the bottom” is emerging, with potentially adverse effects on the market’s future. David Lobo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), warns that the relentless push to lower cannabis prices may have unintended consequences. In this article, we will delve into the challenges posed by this phenomenon and explore the long-term implications for the cannabis market.


In recent years, the cannabis industry has experienced remarkable growth, driven by the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. However, amidst this growth, a pricing dilemma has emerged, leading to what is now known as the “race to the bottom.” This race refers to the continuous lowering of cannabis prices by producers in an attempt to compete with the illicit market, where prices are considerably lower. While this strategy may seem advantageous in the short term, it poses significant risks to the industry’s future sustainability.

The “Race to the Bottom” Phenomenon

The race to the bottom in the cannabis market is characterized by a cycle of price reductions initiated by producers. Faced with the competition from the illicit market, licensed producers aim to lure consumers away from illegal sources by offering more affordable cannabis products. Unfortunately, this approach can lead to a price erosion that undermines the industry’s viability in the long run. The continual decrease in prices creates a perception among consumers that cannabis should always be cheap, making it challenging to shift their expectations back to higher price points.

Perceptions and Consumer Behavior

Consumer behavior is heavily influenced by perceptions and expectations. When individuals become accustomed to purchasing cannabis at lower prices, it becomes increasingly difficult to convince them to pay more in the future. This phenomenon is especially true when the pricing change occurs within a short span of time. To combat this challenge, industry stakeholders must address the race to the bottom cautiously, recognizing that altering consumer perceptions takes time and deliberate effort.

Inflation and Pricing Strategies

One factor that complicates the pricing landscape for cannabis is inflation. In an economy where inflation is on the rise, the costs of most consumer goods are increasing. This scenario poses a conundrum for the cannabis industry. While lower prices can attract new consumers, they can also hinder the industry’s ability to cover production costs and invest in research and development. Striking a balance between competitive pricing and sustainable business models becomes crucial to ensure the industry’s long-term success.

The Role of Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS)

As one of the major players in the Canadian cannabis market, the OCS recognizes the importance of addressing the race to the bottom. The OCS is preparing to implement a strategic plan that aims to lower its margins, providing licensed pot producers with an estimated $60 million boost next year. By taking this step, the OCS hopes to alleviate some of the pressure on producers and create a more sustainable pricing structure.

Building Value and Brand Equity

To counteract the race to the bottom, industry participants must focus on building value and brand equity. It is essential to communicate the unique selling points of premium cannabis products effectively. By emphasizing factors such as product quality, consistency, and the positive social and environmental impact of legal cannabis, industry stakeholders can justify higher price points to consumers. Creating an emotional connection with consumers can also foster brand loyalty, enabling companies to maintain higher prices without losing market share.

Combating the Illicit Market

The illicit cannabis market poses significant challenges to the legal industry. Consumers are often attracted to lower prices and the unregulated nature of the black market. To effectively combat the illicit market, a multi-pronged approach involving government, law enforcement, and industry collaboration is necessary. Education campaigns, stringent regulations, and partnerships with legal producers can help shift consumer behavior away from the illicit market and towards legal, regulated channels.

Regulatory Considerations

The regulatory framework surrounding the cannabis industry plays a pivotal role in shaping pricing dynamics. Regulations governing production, distribution, and marketing directly impact the cost structure of legal cannabis. Striking a balance between compliance and competitiveness is essential to ensure the industry’s growth while maintaining consumer safety. Collaborative efforts between industry participants and regulators can lead to a regulatory environment that supports sustainable pricing practices.

Balancing Affordability and Sustainability

Achieving a balance between affordability and sustainability is crucial for the cannabis market’s long-term viability. Alternative pricing models and strategies, such as tiered pricing based on product quality, can help maintain affordability while enabling producers to sustain their operations. Moreover, ensuring equitable access to cannabis for medical users and marginalized communities is essential for the industry’s social responsibility. By embracing a multifaceted approach, the cannabis market can navigate the challenges posed by the race to the bottom without compromising its future.


The “race to the bottom” in the cannabis market presents a significant obstacle to the industry’s future success. Lowering prices in response to the illicit market may seem like a short-term solution, but it can have long-term consequences. To maintain a sustainable cannabis industry, stakeholders must find a delicate balance between affordability and profitability. By addressing consumer perceptions, building brand equity, and collaborating to combat the illicit market, the industry can ensure a prosperous future.