Last week, the Baker team joined over 25,000 cannabis industry professionals in Las Vegas for MJBizCon. The conference features over 175,000 net square feet of expo floor space and over 1,000 exhibitors, making it the largest cannabis conference in the world. What makes this the one place every cannabis business leader wants to be? It’s the one place the industry’s top talent and entrepreneurs all gather to provide attendees with salient and up-to-date information on the state of the industry across the globe. With everything in this industry moving so fast it operates in ‘dog years,’ staying up-to-date is a constant journey.
Things are moving fast in this industry and this was a major theme throughout the conference. So in many cases, people don’t even realize where the cannabis industry will be in 2-3 years with science and technology because of the fast-paced atmosphere. Some of the other themes and topics that were present throughout the conference include:
The present and future state of the global cannabis industry
Preparing your business for the maturing market and large corporate competition
Employee retention in an industry with a historically high-turnover rate
Technological innovation in all verticals of the industry – from agriculture to extraction to customer-facing technology
When it comes to the present and future states of cannabis, there is one clear direction, and that is forward. According to a conference keynote speaker, the professionalism that we, as an industry, are upholding is only part of what makes the future of this industry bright. Though legalization is slower and more inconsistent than we would have liked, the benefits of legalization far outweigh the risks and the world is beginning to see the value of access to legal cannabis. But with a rise in the industry comes a need for cannabis businesses to prepare for large corporate competition. In order to achieve this, there are a few industry-wide focuses we need to have.
First and foremost, we need to think beyond the current day-to-day. In many cases, we still think short-term. But in order to grow this industry to its potential – a $2 trillion global market by 2050 – we need to think more long-term, focusing on consumer trust, safety and producing a high-quality product efficiently and at scale. In order to achieve this, cultivators need to transition their approach from merely a ‘quantity first’ approach to a quantity and quality approach.
Part of earning this consumer trust is achieved through branding. Currently, there are not enough cannabis businesses that reach beyond the ‘traditional cannabis user’ with their branding. This needs to change. We need to understand that the consumer has many different desires from their experience with cannabis. From the effects of the product to their experience purchasing cannabis in a retail environment.
If we tap into this, then we can better tap into customer loyalty. Currently, there are so many new customers who are only one-time visitors to a dispensary. This is partially due to the federal legalization status, but this will change in the near future. This means that in order to be a successful retailer, dispensaries need to focus on retaining every single customer they bring through the door. In the end, when you look at the data, it’s these loyal customers that save you the most, and therefore make you the most.
Though regulations continue to shape our behavior and business decisions, in many ways, we are no different than any other retailer, “Cannabis is simply strictly regulated agriculture...that we [in the cannabis industry] sell.”
The Baker team at our booth at MJBizCon 2018