Recent legalization has added fuel to the green rush. As it makes its hurried way toward the East Coast, this wave of momentum feels like rocket fuel behind the maturation of the cannabis industry. While we’re far from a consistently regulated, low-stigma and widely embraced market, there are already multi-state operators (MSOs) like Cresco Labs and Curaleaf that are well poised to expand their reach and welcome in anxious to expert consumers with well-tested—and funded—brands, products and operations.
That’s not to say that leadership is guaranteed to these players—far from it, especially when you take into account how fragmented the market is—but it does give us an indication of where things may be headed. Most importantly, we can see how integral it will be to precede costly cannabis market entry with a compelling brand to help you rapidly compete with massive vertically integrated competitors who may well be situated to beat on cost, data and scale.
When thinking about the potential for cannabis branding, it may be useful to look to the beer industry’s Big Beer vs. Craft Beer dynamic for some clues.
For many years, the beer industry was dominated by a few major players, such as Coors, Budweiser and Heineken.