I had to write this paper for one of my journalism classes. I wrote it while in Cleveland and remember being extremely frustrated with it as I had no idea where I should begin. Once I got started, the ideas flowed and I ended up getting an A on the paper. I’m sharing it because it’s something different and adds some diversity to my blog/writing portfolio.
Marijuana is a booming business in Colorado. How do we capitalize? Smoke Green is a newly formed marijuana selling venture that is trying to take advantage of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. We want to put our hand into the billion-dollar cookie jar in Colorado. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it sounds. With the business of selling legal marijuana not being a new concept, many people have already found a dispensary that they enjoy and trust. Somehow, we must separate ourselves from the rest. I believe that we can achieve this by doing the following things: marketing our product correctly, delivering snacks to the customer, edibles, and interaction with customers. All four sound simple, but are crucial if we want to succeed in the marijuana business.
First, let’s look at the numbers. According to Ricardo Baca (2016), in 2015, Colorado sold $996,184,788 worth of marijuana legally. These figures highlight just how profitable of a business this can be and this is why we are entering the game. In December, $62.19 million was made, the highest grossing of the 12-months in 2015. July to September was the best three months total, raking in over $170 million. Those numbers suggest that the second half of the year was much stronger than the first half, which is in large part due to the abundance of shops selling weed. This is why it’s not only important to get in the game; it’s important to establish and separate ourselves.
To separate ourselves, we need to focus on our marketing. Colorado is home to some of the most popular weed strains. Everything from Afghan Kush to White Widow is grown and sold in Colorado. We can’t just rename the strain that is already popular. So we must find a way to market the already popular strains and give people a reason to buy from us over everyone else. McDonald’s didn’t invent the hamburger, and they’re not doing anything differently than anyone else when it comes to the hamburger. Truthfully, their hamburgers suck compared to something you can eat at Hardee’s. However, McDonald’s is the most profitable fast food chain because of their marketing. What do they do differently than anyone else? For starters, they’ve always had big-time celebrity endorsements. This is something we too can achieve. Former NBA stars like Rasheed Wallace and Chris Weber are two of the most notorious weed smokers in sports history. It’s almost impossible to be successful in rap without trying marijuana at least once, and many have made a career off of nothing but weed songs. If we can land just one of them, it could be huge for our business. We don’t need to land a major celebrity right off the bat. After all, we’re not operating with a high budget just yet, but there are local celebrities who might be willing to help us out. Rap group Foodchain is based out of Denver and are huge in the local rap community. They’ve performed at major festivals and were even stamped by Shady Records, home of Eminem. Along with potential celebrity endorsements, we can add our own names to the names of the current weed strains. For example, there is a weed strain called Apollo 13. We can keep the Apollo 13 in the name, but add “Higher than Tom Hanks.” Essentially, we could give each weed strain a subtitle that is unique to our business. While this may not seem like much, the power of second headlines cannot be undersold. It’s basically a tagline for each weed strain. Every major business has a tagline. McDonald’s uses “I’m lovin’ it.” Burger King uses “Have it your way.” These slogans are used to differentiate brands and give consumers something that sticks in their head. Going back to the Apollo 13 example; any business can sell Apollo 13, but how many businesses will claim that it’ll get you higher than Tom Hanks. That’s something that sticks in the minds of pot consumers. Celebrity endorsements and slogans are just two ideas that we can use to help separate ourselves from other businesses in the legal marijuana game.
Another idea would be to come up with a new application that helps enhance the weed smoking experience. Let’s face it; smokers are pretty lazy. That’s the beauty of marijuana. It relieves stress and makes you forget about most of your problems. Unfortunately, government law doesn’t allow us to deliver the marijuana straight to the customer (Colorado Law, 2016). When consumers smoke, typically, they don’t want to do anything else for the rest of the day or night. The other common side effect of smoking weed is being starved, or what is often referred to as “the munchies.” So how can we appease the laziness and hunger of weed smokers? Deliver snack food to the consumer. This scenario would see us partner with local “snack” shops (think; ice cream, donuts, cakes, etc…) to get the food at a reduced cost and send business their way. Furthermore, we could attempt to partner with major snack brands like Little Debbie or Lays, buy in bulk, and sell to the consumers. Both scenarios could bring about a variety of options for the consumer and us. We would have to keep at least two full-time drivers on staff, but the income should easily offset the cost, especially since they will be using their car. Full background checks and valid license and insurance are a must in this scenario. If we didn’t want to partner with local shops or brands, we could always employ a baker to bake cakes, cookies, brownies, etc… and deliver them to the customers. Delivery could go one of two ways. The obvious is to simply call the store, tell us what you want, and we deliver. The other option would be to create a mobile application that is simple to use and allows the consumer to order the snack directly from their phone. I suggest that we start with the “order by phone” method and if the market is large enough, look into creating the mobile app. This could be a big business winner for us. Smokers are poor planners, especially once they’ve started smoking. If they’re caught somewhere without food, we could be aa saving grace for them. It’s illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana, so being able to get snacks delivered straight to their door would be a blessing. Every weed smoker gets hungry; we have an opportunity to cure that hunger and make extra profit on top of our marijuana sales.
Speaking of snack food, marijuana edibles are an untapped market. There are many consumers who don’t feel the effects of marijuana through regular smoking. Some of them must eat the weed to experience the high. This is much harder than it sounds. You can’t just sprinkle weed on top of your sandwich and call it a day. You must first turn the weed into butter and then cook with that butter. This is not an easy process for everyone. Many consumers don’t want to go through the hassle of turning weed into butter and if they aren’t getting a high from smoking it, or they don’t want to risk smoking it, they simply won’t try marijuana at all. We need to appeal to this market by creating our own line of edibles. We can turn the weed into the butter for the consumer and then bake it into cookies, brownies, peanut butter, etc…. Unfortunately, as stated above, we wouldn’t be able to legally deliver these goods to the consumer as they do contain marijuana, but we can still sell them in our store. Many consumers are simply afraid to try marijuana because they associate it with smoking and value their oxygen and lungs, even though it contains no nicotine, which is the real killer in cigarettes. However, if they’re just eating a cookie or a brownie or a gummy bear, they see no problem in trying the drug. It tastes the same as a regular cookie or brownie; it just gives you a much different feeling. While edibles have caught on over the past year, with some businesses reporting that nearly 60% of their sales come from edibles, the untapped potential in this market is healthy edibles (Schroyer, 2015). Everyone does chocolates, brownies, cookies, gummies, etc…, but we can separate ourselves by doing marijuana-infused granola bars or gluten-free and vegan options. Giving people a healthy option could sway them to try the product and get the high. We can also shape our foods to stand out from the competition. For example, depending on which weed strain we use in our edibles, we can shape the product to show the strain we used. If we use the Bruce Banner weed strain, we can make Incredible Hulk cookies. What we can’t do is try to create something that has been created. We can’t make our edibles look like anything else on the market. Especially mainstream products like Hershey’s or Mars. Not only will other business try to replicate those products, but doing so would lend ourselves to potential lawsuits. Speaking of lawsuits, a new law just passed that only allows for edibles to be infused with 10 milligrams of marijuana per serving (Colorado Law, 2016). This is good news as it ensures that we can’t over produce our edibles, meaning people could ingest more than they’re capable of handling. If a consumer ingests more than they’re used to or can handle, it could open us up to lawsuits. Focusing on edibles is certainly the way to go moving forward and will help differentiate us from other businesses.
Finally, we must interact with our customers. Obviously, being customer friendly is a must, but I’m talking about treating our customers like they are one of us. Marijuana smokers are some of the friendliest people in the world because they are so calm and mellow. There’s a strong sense of community amongst them. We need to make sure that we’re leading the community charge. We can do this by holding weekly events that cater to our consumers. For example, we can hold a movie night where we show a movie on the big screen and discount certain strains of weed. Not only would we bring in costumers, but we would make a profit on the marijuana and the snacks that we sell. We could hold video game tournaments. Everyone knows that pot smokers are excellent at video games. During these events, we would also provide sleeping bags for those who want to stay with us overnight or cars for those that need a ride home. If we charge a small amount for the events, we could easily make the revenue needed to provide the sleeping bags or rides home. Plus, all the revenue we’d make on sales. Bringing marijuana smokers together and providing things to do for our customers is necessary if we want to stand out from the competition.
In conclusion, to capitalize on the booming marijuana business in Colorado, we must take action and separate ourselves from other businesses. To do that, we need to start by marketing our product, start a snack delivery service, focus on edibles, and promote a sense of community. If we do all four things, we can turn Smoke Green into the biggest legal marijuana business in Colorado.
Baca, R. (2016, February 9). Colorado marijuana sales skyrocket to more than $996 million in 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/02/09/colorado-marijuana-sales-2015-reach-996-million/47886/
Learn Colorado’s Retail Marijuana Laws | Good to Know. (2016). Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://goodtoknowcolorado.com/laws
Schroyer, J. (2015, January). Industry Snapshot: Edibles – Marijuana Business Magazine. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from https://mjbizmagazine.com/industry-snapshot-edibles/