How To Design, Market, and Sell Your Pre-Rolls

Part 1: Design a Custom Joint

Adding a pre-roll to your product line-up, or amping up your current pre-roll SKU(s), should be high on your list of steps to profitability. Recent data shows that pre-roll sales are increasing in new markets and aged markets, even those with declining overall sales. They’re popular among new and experienced consumers because they’re convenient, travel well, and offer the chance to try different strains/infusions without committing to a larger purchase.

In short, they’re a hot commodity regardless of the age of your market, the chaos of your market, or the experience level of your market’s consumer. They are your ticket to profitability.

They’re also every other cannabis brand’s ticket to profitability. And with pre-roll sales increasing across new and old markets, the amount of pre-roll brands in the game is also increasing. Your pre-roll(s) must be unique and highly desirable, inside and out.

In this three-part series, we’ll share techniques and strategies your brand can use to launch your product and get it to the top of the pre-roll charts.

Up first—designing a custom joint that accurately represents your brand and speaks directly to your target audience.

Identify Your Target Audience

We’re only going to touch on this briefly as it’s something you’ve likely already determined.

It’s crucial you know who your brand’s target audience is if you want to reach profitability. People from every demographic smoke weed. Your grandmother consumes weed for entirely different goals and reasons than your 20-something-year-old nephew. And you probably consume weed for entirely different goals and reasons than both of them.

Knowing who your brand speaks to, and better yet, who a specific product under your brand speaks to, will determine how you design your pre-roll(s).   

To better understand what we mean, consider these questions:

Is your target consumer newer to smoking and/or cannabis in general? Narrowing down the experience level of your consumer can influence whether you create an infused pre-roll or one using only flower.

Does your target consumer prioritize eco-conscious purchases? The paper you choose for your pre-roll, as well as using a crutch or tip, could make or break your sale to them. Not all pre-rolls are created equal when it comes to environmental impact.

Does your target consumer hang in local artsy circles? If so, it could be worth exploring a collab with local artists on limited-release packaging. It could also be worth releasing a pre-roll that imparts creativity-boosting effects.

With your target audience in mind, you can start designing your custom pre-roll. 

Design Your Pre-Roll

We’ve divided pre-roll design into the following categories:

Stuffed cone vs rolled pre-roll

First, you need to choose the shape of your pre-roll.

Many pre-rolls on the market are cones mechanically stuffed by pre-roll stuffing machines. These are the ones that burn hot and canoe like crazy. They require dry AF flower (hence the hot burn), and they greatly increase your brand’s carbon footprint. Still, this shape remains common in the industry. Choosing this shape will impact your next choice—the type of flower you use—since you’ll need flower that can still get the job done even after being dried to the point of only 6-8% moisture.

Rolled pre-rolls, on the other hand, are the classic joint we all know and love. They used to be out of reach for most brands as they required a large staff to physically handroll each one. Now, brands have access to the BlackBird, the industry’s first and only automatic pre-roll machine that rolls pre-rolls. This machine rolls an average of 750 pre-rolls/hour. It requires fluffy flower with a moisture content of at least 10%, offering a much more pleasant and effective burn. And because the pre-roll it produces is rolled, not stuffed, there’s no need to worry about canoeing.

Click here to learn more about the BlackBird and request a demo. 

Choose Your Flower and Potential Concentrate Infusion

With the shape of your pre-roll chosen, it’s time to consider your flower options. In the past, pre-rolls have been the place to use up all the shake, trim, and whatever other leftover material manufacturers had lying around. Now that pre-rolls are sales leaders, they demand more thoughtfulness and respect.


Determining your flower choice starts with determining your goals.

Did you just drop a new strain and want to create some buzz around it? A pre-roll could do the trick; it’s an easy entry point for consumers that doesn’t require them to drop a lot of dough upfront.

Did you over-produce a certain strain and need to move it? A limited-edition pre-roll is a more lucrative place to use it than sending the flower off for extraction or leaving it to age and degrade on the shelf.

Been working with your retailers’ budtenders to see what effects the area’s consumers are looking for these days? Use this intel to create a pre-roll that gives the people what they want. (Side note: Budtenders are your brand’s greatest asset. We’ll touch on budtenders in part three of this series.)

Consider what your brand needs out of a pre-roll and what your consumers need. If you can serve both simultaneously, you’re on the track to profitability.

Remember: If you’re using stuffed cones, choose a strain that won’t completely lose its integrity after being dried to 6-8% moisture.


In the older markets we’ve studied, infused pre-rolls out-sell non-infused ones. We’re assuming this is because the consumers in that market are more experienced and educated on the plant and its effects, so they’re more interested in infused pre-rolls and concentrates in general. Consumers in newer markets may not be ready to experiment with infused pre-rolls or concentrates just yet.

If your target audience is experienced with cannabis, consider adding an infused pre-roll to your lineup.

You can use the budtender intel we mentioned earlier to narrow down what type of concentrate to use. Ask your retailers’ budtenders what types of concentrates customers are most interested in and what infused pre-rolls are selling well to inform your decision.

Keep in mind, you’re not limited to your brand’s concentrates. If you have a concentrate in your product lineup that pairs well with the flower you’ve chosen and speaks to your goals and target audience, party on. If you don’t, consider using sales data and budtender insight to create a marketing opportunity through brand collaboration.

If you can find the data, take a look at the concentrate brands in your area with the highest sales. (Or, if you can’t, just ask your retailers’ budtenders who’s selling.) Get in touch with those brands to see about a potential collab. This will get their brand in front of your loyal consumers and your brand in front of theirs. Advertise the collab as a limited release to increase the sense of urgency for the consumer.

Determine the Size of Your Pre-Roll

Whether you choose to use stuffed cones or roll your joints with the BlackBird, your standard joint sizes will range from 6mm to 9.5mm.

6mm is the “dog walker” size that’s become popular as pre-rolls have gained traction in the marketplace. They’re smaller, but that doesn’t mean they can’t hit hard. If you’re creating an infused pre-roll, maybe a dog walker is the right size for your brand since the concentrate will add to the product’s overall THC content.

The larger you go in size, the more it will cost you to produce, but the more you can charge for the product. Consider your target audience, your brand’s goal(s) for the pre-roll, and the type of flower and concentrate you may be using before narrowing down the right size for your pre-roll.

Note: Novelty products can be great for 4/20 events, but a 3-gram cross joint is only going to take your brand so far. If you’re developing a pre-roll you intend to keep as a standard in your product lineup, we suggest focusing on a more traditional size and shape.

Pick the Right Paper

Your paper choice can be a huge selling point and a large part of your marketing campaign if it’s something that speaks to your target audience. If you’re rolling your joints with the BlackBird, there are three types of paper to choose from. These are generally the paper options available for stuffed cones as well.

Hemp paper

Natural unbleached paper

Rice paper

If your target audience errs on the side of all-natural, sustainable, insert-eco-friendly-buzzword-here-type products, hemp paper is your move. It not only keeps your product more natural by wrapping cannabis flower in more cannabis, but it also adds to an eco-friendly narrative. No trees are destroyed in the creation of hemp paper, unlike natural unbleached paper and rice paper.

Natural unbleached paper and rice paper are the traditional pre-roll papers you and your consumer are probably used to. Because of this familiarity, they both rank high with consumers and can be a good selling point for you if your customer likes to keep things traditional. They are essentially the same paper, except rice paper is bleached. As a bleached paper, it’s the only one of the three options that doesn’t impart a slight flavor to the joint.

Click here to learn more about the paper options for your pre-roll.

Crutches and tips

At this point, all automatic pre-roll machines require you to use a crutch.

With stuffed cones, this comes at a disadvantage. Automatic cone-stuffing machines require you to order your pre-roll paper pre-shaped as cones. Since they’re already shaped, they come with a crutch in place. This doesn’t leave you with a lot of room to customize your pre-roll. It’s more of a take-what-you-can-get situation.

On the contrary, rolling your pre-roll with the BlackBird allows you to customize your crutch and tip, if you want to add a tip. (If you’re not sure about adding a tip, consider what your competitors are doing and if they’re doing it well.) For either and/or both the crutch and the tip, you can choose from the following materials: 

Paper      Glass      Filtration media      Wood      Plastic

Your brand values, budget, and target audience should inform the type of material you use.

Using a crutch or tip is also a great place to add some branding to your joint. Generally, cannabis products are branded only on the packaging; the literal product you consume doesn’t usually have any branding on it. Pre-rolls are the exception. If you’re rolling with the BlackBird, RollPros can help you design a custom-branded crutch/tip for your pre-roll. When your customer passes their joint around the circle, you can leave an impression on every person hitting it by including a branded detail on the crutch or tip.

Package Your Pre-Roll

Your pre-roll packaging is your customer’s first impression of your product. This is another crucial point where knowing your target audience is key.

One other point of packaging to consider is if you’re selling your pre-rolls as singles or as multipacks. Multipacks are hot sellers these days. If you’re looking to earn new customers, a multipack could be ideal packaging because it allows you to introduce potential new customers to more than one of your flower strains at a time.

Multipacks also allow you to play with your infusions if you’re going infused. Each pre-roll in the multipack can be a different combination of flower and concentrate. Slap a QR code on the packaging or follow up with your consumer via SMS or email to ask them to vote on or rank their favorite infusion in the pack, and use this insight to inform future pre-roll releases.

Are they male or female? This should influence color, font, and word choice.

Are they using your pre-roll for medicinal or recreational purposes? This should influence how much and what type of info you include on the packaging.

Are they finding you based on a collab with a local artist or a concentrate brand? Be sure to make it clear on the packaging who you’ve partnered with—you want this to catch their eye.

Custom Joints Create Custom Experiences

Custom experiences are what keep customers coming back, so long as they’re consistent. The design of your pre-roll should be:

In line with your target audience’s wants, needs, and goals

A clear representation of your brand


Rolling with the BlackBird guarantees consistency, both in the process of creating the pre-roll and in the actual burn your customer experiences. Learn more about the BlackBird here.

Next up in the series, we’ll go over the different marketing materials and collateral you can use to increase awareness around your pre-roll(s). Stay tuned!