On September 11th, 2019, investors, entrepreneurs, and branding experts will gather to dissect the economics of cannabis business brands at The Green Market Summit in Los Angeles, California. Following a sold-out event in Chicago, The Green Market Summit will bring its business acumen to the world of cannabis branding and provide exclusive industry information on topics such as the celebrity effect on cannabis, how to manage brand perception for public companies, and the world of luxury cannabis.
“Our conferences are unique within the glut of cannabis events in that we zero in on one topic and then dig in with both hands,” said Green Market Media Co-founder and CEO, Debra Borchardt. “This makes it more valuable for our attendees because they walk away with real value-added information. You can’t get this type of nitty-gritty detail from a general topic cannabis conference.”
The event will include an in-depth examination about how to develop an authentic cannabis brand, led by legendary musician Melissa Etheridge and involve Kevin Bell, the COO of Tyson Ranch founded by boxer Mike Tyson, and Courtney Zalewski from Lowell Herb, which has developed a strong outreach to influencers in cannabis.
The summit will also feature a panel discussion about celebrity athletes, cannabis brands, and their relationship with CBD. As the CBD market continues to grow at an explosive rate, more athletes than ever are turning to CBD to help relieve pain, turning many into passionate advocates for cannabis.
The panel will include former NFL offensive lineman and founder of the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, Kyle Turney; former professional ice hockey left winger and Athletes for CARE co-founder, Riley Cote; NCAA national champion and Mendi founder, Rachel Rapinoe; former NFL player and Athletes for CARE Ambassador, Nate Jackson; and Athletes for CARE Executive Director Anna Valent.
The keynote event will star accomplished CNBC reporter Jane Wells, who will go one-on-one with a market leader in the edible cannabis market, Jake Heimark.
With more than three decades experience, Wells is a journalism veteran who has received numerous accolades throughout her career, including a 1992 Peabody Award and a DuPont Award for live coverage of the Rodney King Trial and a Los Angeles Emmy Award for her investigative reporting.
Heimark is the co-founder and CEO of PLUS Products, a publicly-traded California-based branded products cannabis company. During his tenure as CEO, Heimark has helped steer the company to become the #1 and #2 best-selling branded cannabis products across all BDS Analytics tracked markets, building a core following in the most influential market in the world, with over 1 million units of its signature PLUS gummies sold last year alone.
“PLUS is excited to partner with the Green Market Report for their Summit in LA to continue to educate individuals on the exciting opportunities within our emerging industry,” said Heimark. “We look forward to sharing our story and the progress we have made towards building an international cannabis brand.”
“Don’t fail before you start,” says Wick & Mortar CEO and Founder Jared Mirsky when Green Market Report caught up on him regarding the latest shakeup in the cannabis industry regarding the Woodstock brand and name.
The promise of a 50th-anniversary concert in honor of Woodstock 1969 came and went, yet stir around the Woodstock name over the last couple of years in the cannabis industry cast a big cloud over the “peace and love” vibe that the event tries to promote, and it wasn’t cannabis smoke.
It started in February 2018, when Woodstock Ventures, the founders of the original 1969 festival and the established brand tied to the festival, sued Woodstock Roots, a Pennsylvania holding company that sells hemp rolling papers, vaporizers and other extracts under the consumer brand Woodstock American Products. Woodstock Roots countersued, filing a preliminary injunction against Woodstock Ventures, stating that Woodstock Roots had already filed for a trademark in 2013 to use the Woodstock name at the festival. The injunction sought to prevent the original brand from entering into licensing agreements to sell products at the 50th-anniversary concert that was to take place this summer.
Woodstock Ventures had been working with MedMen (MMNFF) to create cannabis products under the Woodstock brand, stepping on the toes of Woodstock Roots, who thought they had the monopoly on selling Woodstock-branded cannabis, even donning the tagline “since 1969”.
The case got stuck in court, leaving the two companies in a standstill as to who would be able to sell products under the Woodstock name, and no matter what these companies could do to push the case forward in court, everything seemed to be against them.
The original ruling judge died, making the case take a few steps back until late-July, just days before the concert was canceled, when a new judge denied Woodstock Roots’ request for a preliminary injunction, ruling that Woodstock Ventures would be the only company permitted to carry on cannabis product sales using the Woodstock name.
Now, with the 5oth anniversary concert of Woodstock officially canceled, the case itself may be moot for selling cannabis at Woodstock festivals, but it certainly brings up a large issue for the cannabis industry in terms of branding and naming cannabis companies.
“There seems to be a big misunderstanding in terms of what you can and can’t do in terms of naming,” says Wick & Mortar’s Jared Mirsky. Wick & Mortar is the first branding and marketing firm in the world that provides services exclusively to the cannabis industry. It has been in operation for over ten years under Mirsky’s leadership.
“Trying to take licenses of a company so tied to a culture I feel is an infringement,” says Mirsky, “The execution of a product so closely tied to a brand like Woodstock, could be detrimental to the established Woodstock brand.”
Mirsky says that the naming process is a large part of the services that Wick & Mortar take clients through when branding and marketing their products. “If a client has chosen a name that we have advised against, we ask them to sign a waiver acknowledging this,” says Mirsky, who has seen too many instances of brands getting themselves in hot water by infringing on other brands or established brand cultures.
According to Mirsky, choosing a name that is too closely aligned with another brand, or choosing a name that will fail to translate into global markets, is one of the biggest “faux pas” that cannabis brands can undertake. “This happens all the time,” says Mirsky, “Companies fail to do their due diligence, or even worse, they don’t care and take names anyway, figuring that they’ll remain unseen in the dilution of brands, and when it comes to it, they’ll eventually have the wealth to battle any brand infringements in court.”
Mirsky says originality is key when choosing a name. “When you have a brand name that is far more original, you increase your brand equity valuation,” explains Mirsky, “Wick & Mortar helps brands establish brand valuation by focusing on brand equity.” An example of brand equity is the ability to transfer a name to different SKUs and products, or the ability to bring brands to the global front, and have the name translate culturally.
“If a company is doing CBD pre-rolls, and now wants to move into providing topicals, or capsules, or any other cannabis product, there already could be another established brand offering those products under the same name,” explains Mirsky. When a brand fails to be able to translate across different products or SKUs purely due to the name already being taken, their brand equity valuation decreases.
Brands who don’t take cultural translation into account may also have trouble expanding globally. Take for instance the cannabis company Puff Cannabis Co. Standing for “People United For Flower”, Puff seeks to celebrate the 1970s and flower power movement through its developing brand. “While this word certainly resonates within the North American cannabis industry,” says Mirsky, “The word ‘puff’ means something else in other cultural contexts,” he goes on, referring to the word being a slang British term to refer to homosexuals. “This brand would have difficulty going global.”
What can companies do to avoid mishaps in their name and branding? “Be original!” says Mirsky, “Choose a name unlike anything else, a name that allows you to do whatever you want with it.” Mirsky also suggests that creating names from made-up words, or synonyms of words relating to the industry can help build originality and avoid any naming infringement mishaps.
As far as naming a company “Canna” anything, that is far overdone, according to Mirsky. Even the word “canna” in your name could fail to translate to global markets, even if you’re offering legalized products derived from cannabis, like hemp-CBD. “The market is saturated with canna this, and canna that,” says Mirsky, “Don’t fail before you start. Start with a strong brand name, because in the end, you’ll be worth more because you’re different.”
The medical and recreational marijuana industry just received a major boost with consumers. Like Walmart, Kroger, CVS, Amazon, and other retailers embrace CBD, now mainstream media is working to give consumers the knowledge on how to use and where to shop. Tribune Publishing Co. (NASDAQ: TPCO), the owner of the Chicago Tribune, NY Daily News, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, Hartford Courant and more along with syndicating content to over 500 United States newspapers, has entered a partnership with The Fresh Toast, one of the largest cannabis media companies in the industry.
The relationship should ensure the marijuana and CBD industry each reaches $20 billion in sales by 2022. That’s because millions of average Americans will be exposed daily to cannabis content in one of their familiar news sources – their local newspaper.
“We continue to serve readers with topical, engaging information,” said Colin McMahon, Chief Content Officer of Tribune Publishing. “We look forward to collaborating with The Fresh Toast.”
Tribune Content Agency, a division of Tribune Publishing, is capitalizing on a growing public interest in marijuana and related products, including cannabidiol (CBD), as well as the medical marijuana movement that has already made doctor-supervised cannabis use legal in two-thirds of US states. Today eleven states plus the District of Columbia have legalized adult-use marijuana.
Many mainstream publications – from AARP to Fox News to the New York Times – have included stories on the industry. Retailers and brands should get a boost from the deal as marijuana products become more mainstream and customers develop a user comfort level.
This is also a big win for The Fresh Toast, who already partners with Canada’s leading newspaper company Postmedia which makes them the largest voice in the Canada marijuana space. The majority of marijuana sites focus on the lifestyle cannabis consumer, not unlike Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast. The Fresh Toast targets the other 91% and their content has been very successful on Apple News, newspapers and on Facebook.
The Fresh Toast has the largest organic traffic and caters to a broad audience. The timing has also been very good for the company as it also comes as it is close to completing an investment raise.
“We are proud to partner with a respected media company like Tribune” says JJ McKay, founder/publisher of The Fresh Toast. “Our team works hard every day to provide useful content that meets the consumer/reader where they are and at their interest level.”
The Fresh Toast has identified itself as the mass market media in a crowded space. High Times, Dope, Civilized and other media companies have expanded into the special event space to earn revenue. MJ Business Daily is an industry site with a large conference component and Prohbtd is a sponsored content/sales site. The Fresh Toast has had breakout success in expanding past the stoner market into the mass audience.
The Fresh Toast also works in the medical professional space, currently working with over 50,000 physicians to help them understand medical marijuana and giving them opportunities to engage the patient in general treatment options. The Tribune partnership will open doors to patients who can benefit from medical marijuana and better guide conversations. Tribune is expected to publish its second-quarter earnings on August 7 after the market closes.
This week the all new media platform, Flowertown, a rapidly growing cannabis media and marketing brand, and CohnReznick LLP, one of the largest accounting and consulting firms in the country, announced that they will be teaming to deliver a comprehensive suite of services to the cannabis industry.
The strategic relationship was a response to an opportunity in the burgeoning cannabis marketplace that the two groups recognized and decided to collaborate to fill. The goal is to work together to provide comprehensive professional resources for industry participants looking for strategic growth and the delivery of compliance services. Additionally, the two intend to accelerate reliable consumer education.
Flowertown CEO, Dean Waters, told Green Market Report that, “In a time where consumers have so many questions about cannabis, Flowertown aspires to be the Good Housekeeping for the industry. Its education first mantra holds the hand of consumers while educating and then guiding them to safe, legal, and trusted brands and retailers.”
Flowertown is comprised of a group of marketing professionals that have been moving the needle in crowded,
general consumer markets for years. The Flowertown platform, advertising services, and influencer network has a unique offering that the company feels has cracked the code in introducing the benefits of cannabis to the general consumer market. This new relationship with CohnReznick creates an even more robust offering on a level the industry has yet to see.
“We are always looking to bring other trusted advisors to the table for our clients in this ever-changing and developing industry,” said Waters. “CohnReznick brings a tremendous amount of professional experience and technical expertise in the cannabis space. Our marketing sensibilities combined with their proven track record with both established and emerging industries creates a suite of services that will be paramount as cannabis brands and retailers break into the mainstream marketplace.”
Ira Weinstein, Cannabis Industry Leader for CohnReznick added, “We have been serving the cannabis industry for over two years and see the challenges companies are experiencing when it comes to synthesizing finance, tax and accounting issues in support of sophisticated marketing and building a brand. Flowertown’s commitment to consumer education and normalization aligns perfectly with CohnReznick’s commitment to professionalism and corporate responsibility in this space. We believe our collaboration with Flowertown brings a new level of sophisticated professional solutions that will help push this industry forward.”
A veteran media and entertainment executive, Kraig Fox oversees High Time’s day-to-day operations, which now include Dope Magazine, Culture Magazine, Green Rush Daily, and a number of events, including the Cannabis Cup Festivals. Fox was once a Senior Managing Director of Guggenheim Partners where he focused on Guggenheim’s overall strategy in the media and entertainment spaces as well as the management of its media and entertainment investments. Prior to joining Guggenheim, Fox was a founder and Chief Operating Officer of Core Media (previously CKX, Inc.) where he oversaw all operations of this publicly traded company including Core’s interests in the estate of Elvis Presley and the intellectual property rights of Muhammad Ali as well oversight of its wholly owned subsidiary, 19 Entertainment, which included American Idol (including television, records, lives tours, artist management and sponsorships) and So You Think You Can Dance.
Prior to Core, Fox was a founder of SFX Entertainment (now Live Nation) where he was Chief Development Officer from 1995 until 2000 overseeing the global consolidation of the live entertainment industry into the world’s largest owner and operator of live entertainment promoters and producers.
GMR Executive Spotlight Q&A –
Full birth name: Kraig Fox
Title: President and CEO
Company:High Times Holdings
Years at current company: <1
Education profile: I received my bachelor’s from SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and my Juris Doctorate from Hofstra University School of Law
Most successful professional accomplishment before cannabis: Prior to my work in cannabis, I was a founder of what is now Live Nation and a Board Member of the Muhammad Ali Center
Company Mission: High Times’ mission is to connect cannabis consumers to endemic and non-endemic brands through our events, trade shows and digital assets.
Company’s most successful achievement: High Times is the only globally known brand in cannabis and has been connecting cannabis consumers with brands for nearly five decades. High Times has also been staging Cannabis Cup events for three decades and holds over a dozen live events a year spanning Europe, the United States and Canada, each of which draw tens of thousands of attendees who gather to celebrate the cannabis lifestyle, music and products. The Company recently expanded its international platform through its acquisition of Spannabis, one of the most prolific events in the cannabis ecosystem and one of the most well-known annual festivals within the EU.
Has the company raised any capital (yes or no): Yes
if so, how much?: Above $25M.
Any plans on raising capital in the future? Yes. We are currently finishing our highly successful Reg A + public offering and plan to list on a stock market shortly.
Most important 5 year company goal: Our focus will continue to remain on driving and growing our global brand presence.
One of the most interesting and exciting elements to the, now emerging, legalized cannabis trade is how cannabis’ image, its past connotations and all of the potential uses that it has open to it, affects its sales and sales potential. Given that we’re talking about image, we’re really talking about marketing, and how you could creatively market something which was previously not only illegal most places, but actively frowned upon and associated with all sorts of negative concepts and behaviors. It’s a great challenge for any marketing team, so let’s go ahead and look at how to generate effective digital marketing schemes for this product.
Digital marketing normally involves it, but I can’t stress enough how important the internet is going to be in terms of the marketing and successful sales campaign for a cannabis company. The reality is that, for the expanding part of the market, meaning the people who are drawn to it now that they can attain it legally, there is still a stigma. The stigma exists with cannabis, regardless of the legislation. Its recreational uses are still tinged with its previous illegality. So, the internet becomes the most appealing way to purchase it. Just in the same way that the sex toy industry thrives online, cannabis purchases thrive most in the discreet anonymity of the online shopping cart.
Influencers do what it says on the tin: they influence. For people who are curious but not confident enough to push themselves into making a purchase, seeing their favorite YouTuber or Instagram Fitness Coach recommend a product containing cannabis can have an enormously relieving and comforting effect on them. The important thing is picking the right sort of influencer, ideally someone whose image doesn’t align at all with previous stereotypes about cannabis usage. The more relatable they are, the better.
One potentially very useful tool that a cannabis company might have is the idea of free samples. “If the payoff is a new email for the mailing list, increased interest and likelihood of future purchase and maybe even some free marketing amongst the friends of the person in question, then sending a small sample for free to people can be very much worth the small cost it is to your company”, says Rachel Macpherson, digital marketer at EliteAssignmentHelp and StateOfWriting. For some people, taking the leap of actually spending money is a difficult hurdle, so seeing if they like a cannabis product can be the thing to nudge them into purchasing. Of course, check each state and make sure that giving samples is legal.
Hearing what people have to say, your company included naturally, about cannabis products can be a great way to persuade people to purchase and to boost your sales. The difficulty is then the content creation itself, which can be tough for anyone. Here are some tools to help with your written content:
BigAssignments and OxEssays – A pair of content formatting tools, an increasingly important area to get right in the digital realm.
Paraphernalia, previously a dirty word used by police officers to refer to the trappings that go along with cannabis consumption is now one of the most difficult elements of marketing cannabis products. A lot of cannabis products require you to use a variety of other items to complete the consumption of it. In this instance, it’s also an opportunity for an online company to offer deals where all of the related objects come with the major product, something which is most achievable in an online store.
Creating an app is a normal step for a lot of different online stores, but for cannabis companies, it’s a particularly good move. It serves not only as a convenient way for users to shop, given the enormous numbers of mobile users, but also as a hub with all the information that users, people who might be unfamiliar and intrepid at the thought of cannabis consumption, can use to reassure themselves and to find out information and connect with the rest of the userbase for advice and help.
As an emerging market which is guaranteed to increase the more that legalization spreads, cannabis marketing is going to become an extremely important and valuable tool. It presents a unique opportunity for some really innovative digital marketing, as well as a unique set of historical challenges to conquer.
Nora Mork is a marketing and business journalist at Boom Essays and PhD writing service. She helps businesses create effective marketing strategies, and writes blogs at Essay Roo.
Last Saturday, people all over the world came together to celebrate cannabis culture. In Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom thousands of people peacefully marched in the streets for their right to cannabis, and in South Africa they came together under a banner of love and mutual respect, enjoying fellowship with like-minds. In Los Angeles, I was at the BudTrader Ball.
The big dream used to be getting to Amsterdam for the cannabis cup, where shops like the Grasshopper and Bulldog were on the must visit list. Now, the reality of the situation is, if you want to attend a 4/20 event in a “legal” state, you just find the one closest to you and plan a vacation. As anyone who has ever been to Los Angeles and paid attention to their surroundings knows, there are many dispensaries in the area. The peeps at BudTrader.com make it their job to let you know where these are at, if you are having difficulty spotting green crosses.
I fully understand that what is described in this article is not reality for everyone reading it. Get involved, vote, and hold politicians accountable. Cannabis policy has crossed the point of no return out of prohibition. In today’s green rush, many cannabis companies are expressing themselves and our culture through events such as those held on 4/20. They go solo, partner with like-minded brands, or reach out to the greater community outside of the cannabis space.
Each of these approaches have merit, and in their own way are impactful, based upon the goals of the company, and the people they serve. This is replicated myriad ways throughout the cannabis empire. In the City of Angels, epicenter of the cannabis industry, the professionals let their hair down for an interactive, art filled event.
The 2019 BudTrader Ball at Wisdome in Downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District “was an opportunity to meet other high-caliber cannabis industry business people, influencers, and investors in an environment that allowed us to celebrate the cannabis plant.” Said Tim McGraw, CEO of Canna-Hub.
It was an experience like no other I’ve had in the cannabis space to date. The art was exceptional, food delicious, music rocking, and cannabis plentiful. The people weren’t so bad either. I felt good to be in a proper space that was also used by the general public, not isolated from every living thing, and being able to partake in the herb without feeling out of place. It felt, normal.
***All photo credits belong to Michael Allen Howard of BudTrader.com except for the final photo which was provided by the author Ricardo Pereyda
The cannabis consumer is typically characterized as a “stoner” – a lovable, slacker with no ambition wandering around in a high stupor. So, it’s pretty unusual to read the account of a sober millennial working in one of the biggest cannabis companies in the country. Jackson D. Tilley’s full-time job is the vice president of strategic partnerships and communications for Organa Brands, a vape company that has sold over $100 million in cannabis products. Somehow, he has found time to write this book Billion Dollar Dimebag: An Insider’s Account of America’s Legalish Cannabis Industry.
“The book is being published by Post Hill Press, and will be distributed by Simon & Schuster.” It is available now for pre-orders at www.billiondollardimebag.com and it is a true story of being at the right place and the right time for success in the cannabis industry. Tilly started as an intern at O.penVape in Denver Colorado in 2014 just as the adult use cannabis industry began to take off.
O.pen.VAPE is owned by Organa Brands, which just announced the acquisition by Slang Worldwide (SLNG). By logging long hours, massive amounts of travel and lots of hard work, Tilley rose through the ranks to his current position. The book chronicles the changes in the cannabis industry as the stigma quickly fell away, but also highlights the constant challenges that cannabis companies endured along the way.
“Working in public relations for so long, I’ve become fascinated with the ways in which people absorb content and internally assign meaning to it in their own lives,” said Tilley. “You see a lot of people rallying against our industry, repeating the same talking points they were using decades ago. And then, on the other side, you had people who were totally in favor of legalization but still painting the industry and community as a bunch of burnouts.” Tilley said he was motivated to write the book because his experience within the industry wasn’t something that those outside the industry saw. Primarily – really brilliant people taking risks with their careers to advance the cannabis industry.
Sober In Cannabis
Attend any cannabis event in a fully legal state and you will inevitably be offered the product to consume. Corporate events are known to give the product away for free in gift bags and cannabis is easily accessible. Imagine being sober in this environment. Tilley said that was another reason why he wrote the book, “I’m sober and gay and work in the cannabis industry and that combination is pretty rare,” he said.
However, ask any person working in corporate cannabis and they will tell you how the hours are long, very long. People will often approach a cannabis executive and suggest how awesome it is to work while getting stoned all day. Many will say, if I got stoned all day I’d never get anything done. It is close to impossible to build a solid company if you spend the day stoned.
“I think sobriety is becoming a more interesting topic to a new generation of people, and I wanted to develop a piece of writing that really illustrates the notion that you don’t need to consume cannabis to fully support its legalization,” said Tilley.
Why Do You Need This Book?
If you think you don’t belong in the cannabis industry, this book could change your mind. Tilley said he’s hopeful that people will read his book and find that working at a cannabis company isn’t like working for a drug dealer. He believes the book is helpful for people both outside and inside the cannabis industry.
Tilley said, “For me – company culture is everything. If you have solid core values for your organization, and you stick to them at every decision point, you can succeed. You can retain talent. You can make sure everyone is working toward a common goal. You might be able to have a successful company without that culture–but what might it cost?”
According to The Hollywood Reporter Simon & Schuster will distribute in hardcover and e-book format, while Tilley has also struck a deal with Audible for the audio rights to the book with Tilley on board to narrate. The book is expected to hit the shelves on September 17.
Advertising in the cannabis industry is difficult. In most U.S. states where cannabis is legal, rules regarding cannabis advertising are complicated and extremely restrictive. For example, in California, businesses can only run ads in areas where “71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older.” The advertising landscape online is even far less forgiving. Most online ads platforms, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, explicitly prohibit the advertisement of cannabis products.
In the absence of reasonable advertising regulations for the cannabis industry, many business owners have turned to a new and rapidly growing form of advertisement: Social Media Influencers.
What is a Social Media Influencer?
A social media influencer is a person that uses their large social media following (which can range thousands to millions of followers) to promote certain products or services. Outside of the cannabis industry, one of the most successful social media influencers is Kylie Jenner, who companies will often pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for single social media post promoting their product.
Does Influencer Marketing Work?
While some may balk at the idea of paying a person thousands of dollars to promote a product on Instagram, the numbers do not lie – influencer marketing works. Approximately 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations. Companies that use influencer marketing earn on average $6.50 for every dollar spent. By 2020, the influencer market is expected to grow to $10 billion.
Why Are Cannabis Companies Turning to Influencers?
As alluded to earlier, advertising in the cannabis industry is difficult. Not only are advertising regulations for cannabis complex, but also traditional means of advertisements are expensive. Buying ad space on television, radio, or a billboard can cost companies thousands of dollars with little guarantee of success. In contrast, influencer marketing is loosely regulated (for now) and less expensive.
It is also easier to target specific demographics by relying on influencers that appeal to your core audience. Cannabis business owners may not know who is going to view their highway billboard, but they do know what kind of person is going to visit Snoop Dogg’s Instagram page.
Who Are The Leading Cannabis Influencers?
The question of who the cannabis industry’s leading influencers are is a topic for debate. Unlike other industries where the practice more prevalent, influencer marketing in the cannabis industry is still relatively new. Consequently, it is difficult to say who is the “top cannabis influencer.” However, there are at least a few cannabis influencers that stand out from the pack. Here’s five cannabis influencer that have turned their social media following into big business:
Comedian Seth Rogen has built a career off of starring in stoner comedies like Pineapple Express and This Is The End, so it is only natural that he would use his talent and fame to spread the word about cannabis. With 6.6 million followers on Instagram, Rogen might not be the world’s most widely followed celebrity, but he has built up a strong and loyal social media following. Hoping to capitalize off of his reputation as a cannabis connoisseur, Rogen and his fried/business partner Evan Goldberg have teamed up with the world’s largest cannabis company, Canopy Growth, to launch a new hemp and cannabis company called Houseplant. Understanding the power of social media, Rogen announced the brand by leaving a cryptic message asking people to follow the Houseplant’s Instagram page.
Not content to be the World Heavy Champion of Boxing, sports legend Mike Tyson has dived headfirst into the cannabis industry. Like Seth Rogen, Tyson has leveraged his fame to turn himself into one of the industry’s leading advocate. Tyson has partnered with the upscale cannabis dispensary Planet 13 to be the exclusive launch partner of his 40-acre cannabis resort, dubbed Tyson Ranch. In addition to Tyson’s 7.6 million Instagram followers, Tyson has a popular cannabis podcast called Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson, which has close to 90,000 followers.
“Tyson Ranch, consists of a team with 100+ years of industry experience focusing on quality to make premium cannabis products. We are all about going the extra step to offer truly great cannabis. The Planet 13 Cannabis Entertainment Complex offers customers an ultra-premium cannabis experience that dovetails perfectly with Tyson Ranch’s belief that not all cannabis is created equally,” said MikeTyson.
Dan Bilzerian, owner of the cannabis brand Ignite, is perhaps one of the biggest influencers in the cannabis industry. Often a polarizing figure within the industry, Bilzerian’s social media pages are filled with bikini-clad models in various states of undress, exotic locations, and more often than naught firearms. While some may characterize his social media presence as the epitome of toxic masculinity, with more than 26 million followers on Instagram, it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t have a strong following.
Bilzerian became one of the world’s most successful professional poker players, winning over $50 million in a single year. Despite not adhering to any social norms — and continuing to be unapologetically himself — he developed a reputation within the gambling community for always doing what he said he would do, a mindset that he’s carried with him into numerous investment opportunities, business ventures, and personal pursuits — creating an empire. Now, he’s dedicated to building a brand in the cannabis industry to live the Ignite lifestyle.
Michael Straumietis, also known as Big Mike, is the CEO of the cannabis fertilizer company Advanced Nutrients. Straumietis has built a career off of developing cannabis-specific nutrients and has leveraged that fame into an Instagram following of almost 3 million. Unlike Dan Bilzerian, Straumietis positions himself more as a cannabis thought leader than a globe-trotting playboy.
In 1996, BigMike took $25,000 he’d made from a small illegal grow in Temecula, California, snuck into Canada with a fake passport and built a growing organization 200 people strong. He then used his growing and business expertise to start his company, Advanced Nutrients. Today, Advanced Nutrients is the maker of the #1 selling cannabis-specific nutrient line in the world, with over $110 million a year in sales from 93 countries. Advanced Nutrients also lends seed money to individuals in developing countries who dream of starting a small business, but lack the means to do so. BigMike‘s charity Holiday Heroes feeds over 30 thousand people in need, each Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Charlo Greene is a former journalist turned cannabis entrepreneur that gained overnight fame after she announced live on television that she was quitting her job to pursue a career in cannabis. Greene is a somewhat controversial figure in the cannabis industry after running afoul of regulators in Alaska for launching eponymously named Alaska Cannabis Club. With approximately 214,000 followers on Instagram, Greene is what is called a “Micro-Influencer,” which is someone that has a small but dedicated social media following. Nevertheless, Greene has carved out a niche for herself in both the cannabis industry and the wider entrepreneurial community.
The world of cannabis influencers may still be new, but it is rapidly developing. Even if cannabis advertising regulations relax over the coming years, don’t expect cannabis influencers to go away. Influencer marketing is an incredibly powerful form of advertising, regardless of the industry.
The Fresh Toast reported that it has had 11 days of unprecedented traffic with Saturday setting another huge single-day record. The company’s publisher JJ McKay said that he is expecting a 10-15% increase this month. “We have rocketed on Alexa, Amazon’s digital tracking service, and surpassed High Times globally as well as maintaining our lead in the US.”
The company stressed that its traffic was organic and not purchased. Some cannabis websites have recently seen their page views plunge as paying for traffic became unsustainable.
PostMedia out of Canada said that The Fresh Toast was their number one cannabis content partner. McKay said that it was the largest mainstream voice in cannabis. “Weedmaps, Leafly and High Times all focus on the stoner/connoisseur – roughly 19% of the market and we have the other 81%,” he said.
Last month the cannabis media company launched an updated, fresh site. McKay said that the company had moved into the dominant consumer and medical marijuana media position in Canada and have laid the framework in the United States. “Once the new site “settled in, it started roaring with traffic,” McKay said, adding that the new platform allowed the company to enhance advertising income and, in April the company would begin posting sponsored content. “With the updated site, we will be able to take advantage of Apple’s (AAPL) new focus. Currently, we are a lead cannabis channel on Apple News,” McKay said.
The Fresh Toast stated that from its data sources it strongly appeals to 71% of the market and moderately appeals to another 10%. “19% of the heavy cannabis users may read us for fun, but maybe not for knowledge,” said McKay. “The flip can be said for the more weed-centric sites like Weedmaps, Leafly, Herb, etc. with them appealing to 19-26% of the market.”
In addition to providing general cannabis news, The Fresh Toast has a partnership with physicians and medical professions and positions the website to be the “medical information source for mainstream physicians and doctor’s offices in the US and Canada” recommended by physicians in clinics and offices around the country. The Fresh Toast also has a continuum of care for medical marijuana use overseen by a doctor, giving readers a journey from learning about cannabis and their illness, reading patient stories, and ending with how to use the product and where to purchase.
With equity funding, we will be profitable within a year and highly profitable within two years. Investors/champions include a former Dan Nordstrom, Carolyn Kelly (former president of the Seattle Times), Glenn Johnson (former EVP/ President Alaska Air Group), Denny Post, and a host of other blue-chip names. Some investors have chosen to remain private.
The Green Market Report focuses on the financial news of the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Our target approach filters out the daily noise and does a deep dive into the financial, business and economic side of the cannabis industry. Our team is cultivating the industry’s critical news into one source and providing open source insights and data analysis