EXCLUSIVE: Wana, Cann and Garden Society executives explain how to grow a cannabis brand

The first day of Benzinga’s Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago, Nancy Whiteman, CEO of Wana brands; Luke Anderson, co-founder of Can; and Erin Gorefounder and CEO of garden societyjoined madison fioreCannabis Marketing Agency CEO Mattio Fioreand Cy ScottCEO and co-founder of the cannabis data company Helmet Inc., in a panel discussion on how cannabis brands can scale outside of the multi-state carrier structure.

Panelists shared their strategies for expanding their brands’ footprint.

The Wana Scaling Story

“Wana started out as an initial relationship loosely structured as a joint venture that evolved into a royalty-based model, which evolved over time as the brand became more well-known,” Whiteman said.

“We provided the intellectual property, training and marketing assets, and our partners handled all manufacturing and distribution. We realized that we were more successful where we kept more control over marketing and sales, so we are moving towards a revenue share structure.”

In agreements signed by Wana over the past four years or so, Wana’s partners do the manufacturing and Wana does at least some of the sales, the CEO said.

How a Cannabis Drink Brand Developed

The road for Cann, a brand of cannabis drinks, was different. The original entrepreneurs focused on the asset they intended to offer to the market.

“We started making the product trying to figure out if we could market a 2mg THC drink. Once we understand this, we realize that we need it to evolve. My recommendation is to start with a city and a retailer. And if you can win, you have a case to make statewide, and then when you win in that state, consider taking on the regulatory compliance complexity of other markets,” Anderson said.

Anderson explained that Cann first formulated the drink without cannabis and made sure the quality was consistent.

“We maintained quality control by purchasing raw materials, making the cannabis tasteless so it didn’t impact the customer experience, and training people to produce it and add cannabis to control quality. We found someone in Nevada [who said]”We promise that we will produce as many products for as many years,” Anderson said.

Garden Society builds on its strengths

Gore of Garden Society, who has a background in manufacturing, advised cannabis brands to build on their strengths to expand their footprint.

“We built Garden Society as a multi-category, gummies, pre-rolls, and chocolates business, and we realized we were good at manufacturing, so we built manufacturing in California to have the quality structure and cost and take our ability to manufacture to lead brands in California, bringing a lot of resilience to the business,” Gore explained.

Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash.