So far, much of the chatter surrounding Canada’s upcoming recreational cannabis industry has been focused on the various licensed producers and the expected size of their cannabis crops.
In the end, though, picking the winners and losers in the still-to-be-established marijuana market won’t be about how many kilos of dried bud a company can grow or how big their greenhouse space is. From the customer’s point of view, at least, it’s all about the branding. So says Joe Mimran, Chairman at Gibraltar Growth Corp. and founder of Joe Fresh and Club Monaco.
A few weeks ago, an interesting merger came out of the cannabis sector: stylish and hip bud company Hiku Brands, owners of the Tokyo Smoke chain of award-winning cannabis stores, announced that they were acquiring licensed cannabis producer WeedMD, a company known for its focus on supplying senior citizens with their medical cannabis needs.
That union does a good job sizing up the breadth of an industry that will need to cater to its customers’ desires for fun and frolic while at the same time addressing their more serious medical needs. Which is why marketing and branding will be so crucial, says Mimran, who sits on the advisory board for Hiku Brands.
“Service is going to be a very big part of success for many of these cannabis retail outlets,” says Mimran to BNN Bloomberg. “Imagine, it’s sort of a cross between a pharmacist and a sommelier, so you really do have to impart a lot of knowledge and there’s going to have to be a lot of disciplines around how you engage the consumer, what the physical standards are, the visual standards, and it’s going to be a race to see who, in fact, is going to be the winner in this explosive market.”
Mimran, a fashion designer by trade, says that many aspects of the retail end of the cannabis market are still unknowns and much will depend upon the regulations established by each province and territory.
“There are a lot of regulatory issues that the industry is dealing with,” he says. “Manitoba is opening up for retail, as is Alberta. And a lot of the expertise that you need in retail is going to be applied to this fast-growing industry. They’re tapping a lot of retail talent and as you’re seeing some of the retail organizations trim down, there are some great folks that are now migrating to this high-growth opportunity.”
“What’s amazing about the Canadian market and the cannabis market is the amount of capital that’s been going into Canada’s cannabis market — it has allowed the industry to become a world leader, and you’re seeing the world coming to Canada for the expertise that has been built over the last ten to 20 years,” Mimran says.
“It’s going to be about the environment, the knowledge that you impart and the community that you create and the following that you create,” he says.