To Be Blunt: The Podcast for Cannabis Marketers

076 The Road to Becoming The Most Trusted Name in Cannabis with Dennis O'Malley of The Parent Company

November 22, 2021 Shayda Torabi Season 2 Episode 76
To Be Blunt: The Podcast for Cannabis Marketers
076 The Road to Becoming The Most Trusted Name in Cannabis with Dennis O'Malley of The Parent Company
Show Notes Transcript

“Over the lifetime of a consumer within cannabis, it's a complex journey where there's a lot of experimentation. And we really wanted to create an ecosystem where they felt safe, where they felt educated.” - Dennis O'Malley

Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Dennis O'Malley of The Parent Company, as he shares the principle behind effective engagement with the customers and how brands can integrate a creative approach to marketing for more brand awareness. Dennis talks about his insights on building informed customers to have the brand become a trusted partner in their cannabis journey.

 

[00:01 – 06:31] Shayda shares Updates on Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC

[06:32 – 12:47] The Vertical Integration as a Unified Company

[12:48 – 20:25] Evolving Operations through Core Values to Attract Informed Consumers 

[20:26 – 31:50] Monogram and Human Connection on Addressing Barriers to Marketing 

[31:51 – 43:44] Tracking the Engagement Levels with Partnerships

[43:45 – 46:56] Food for Thought: How do you holistically converse with your customers?

 

Dennis O’Malley has served as Chief Operating Officer of The Parent Company and President of Caliva since January 2021. Dennis was previously the CEO of Caliva, where he led a 10x increase in revenue over the course of three years. Before joining Caliva in 2017, Mr. O’Malley was CEO of ReadyPulse Inc., a venture backed software company that enabled lifestyle brands like Nike, Adidas, The North Face, Red Bull, Reebok, to leverage ambassador marketing programs, from April 2012 to April 2016. The company was sold in April 2016. Mr. O’Malley holds multiple technology patents as well as an MBA from Santa Clara University.

Connect with Dennis

Visit https://www.theparent.co/ and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @theparent.co

 

Shayda Torabi has been called one of the most influential Women in WordPress and now she’s one of the women leading the cannabis reformation conversation building one of Texas’ premier CBD brands. She's currently the CEO and Co-Founder of RESTART CBD, a female-run education first CBD wellness brand. And has formerly held marketing positions at WP Engine and WebDevStudios. Shayda is the host of a podcast for cannabis marketers called To Be Blunt, where she interviews top cannabis brands on their most successful marketing initiatives. When Shayda's not building her cannabiz in Texas, you can find her on the road exploring the best hikes and spots for vegan ice cream. Follow Shayda at @theshaydatorabi

Key Quote:

“At the end of the day, I think what's important is, you know, we've always used the north star as this informed consumer… We always need to keep the consumer in mind. And that informed consumer is just asking a question, which is, ‘What am I putting into my body?’.” - Dennis O'Malley

 

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Dennis O'Malley  0:00  
I think at the end of the day, I think what's important is, you know, we've always used the north star as this informed consumer. So we've always thought about the consumer first and everything from when we're planting the plants to when we're packaging the jars in the eighth to when we're servicing the customer, we always need to keep the consumer in mind. And that informed consumer is just asking a question, which is, what am I putting into my body? And if we think about that, that informed consumer is normally coming to us, because they want to be able to alleviate pain. They want to be able to get better sleep, they want to be able to control anxiety, or they just want to be able to take the edge off and we're you know, very much non judgmental in terms of how you consume, you know, this organic plant which our body's endocannabinoid system, you know, it's fit to be able to react to and it's been you know, proven for 1000s of years that have medicinal benefits.

Announcer  1:06  
You're listening to to be blunt, be podcast for cannabis marketers, where your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here's your host Shayda Torabi. Hey y'all welcome back

Shayda Torabi  1:31  
to the TV blump podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, cannabis business owner and brand marketer. And I'm coming at you today with a another episode that is sure to blow your mind. I'm really grateful for today's guest, it is a honor and pleasure honestly to get to sit down with such a recognized brand. And before we kick off into the episode, I did want to give you guys a little bit of an update. You know, we're in Texas and we're dealing with this delta eight thing. It is still on the table we're going back and forth, kind of the quick version of it is the Department of State Health Services came up with a statement correcting their original stance but making it kind of official in October. And that stance basically said that Deus eight is illegal it is isn't that x substance. And I'm sure you guys saw I did a special episode with Mark and Marco crazy. Some of my friends here in Austin talking about is delta ate a synthetic and kind of address that, you know, part of the conversation. But that is separate from kind of the actuality of what's happening, which is the state issued this update from dishes, then a couple companies sued the state asking for an injunction so that we can continue to sell Delta eight, the injunction was granted. However, dishes appealed the injunction. So now I think we're kind of waiting for there's a couple other lawsuits by the time this airs, some movement can certainly have happened. But from my understanding, we're still kind of waiting to see WTF is going to happen with Delta eight in Texas. So yeah, if you're in Texas, and you're wondering what's going on with that, we're kind of sitting ducks, we're waiting to see if an injunction is going to get in place again, if the appeal is going to get overturned and what's going to happen with that. Now on the flip side, we are seeing the emergence of hemp derived delta nine. Now it's not new by any means the way that the law was written both at a federal level with the farm bill, it says that we can have up to point 3% Delta nine THC on a dry weight basis. So do some math if you have a one gram gummy, you can essentially have 10 milligrams of hemp derived delta nine that is legal and you're seeing so many brands at a national level kind of come to market with hemp derived delta nine products. And for those of you who are may be unclear Delta nine is the active THC cannabinoid in marijuana. So you know very interesting that we now have a hemp derived version that is totally legal and can be sent across state lines. Literally my head is blowing up I don't know what this means for the industry how long this will stick around. But in Texas with the decline of Delta eight from a market perspective, you're seeing the rise of hemp derived delta nine so certainly more to come if you have any thoughts or opinions or want to just kind of discuss the hemp drive Delta nine a little bit more I'd be more than happy to take that time and have a conversation with you. But transitioning now into today's episode. Super super honored to have Dennis O'Malley he is the chief operating officer of the parent company and the parent company is the main company that oversees Khalifa which Dennis was the former CEO of but Khalifa is under the umbrella of the parent company. They also own monogram which is Jay Z's cannabis brand, and a few other brands under that umbrella, but really had a great discussion with Dennis just around the structuring of the parent company, the opportunities that brand is able to extend into the industry with the influence of key people like Jay Z and other celebrities or personas and how they're able to kind of leverage that influence to create boutique brands and extend, whether it's a collaboration or it's a full on new brand, how they bring those products and brands to market and how do they navigate, especially as they have the influence of a lot of key players, from a industry perspective, paying attention to what they're doing and kind of what can we learn from that experience that this brand is going through. So again, genuinely excited to present this discussion to you, I hope you guys are ready for it and taking notes. And as always, feeling inspired. That's the whole point of why I put these podcasts together is I really want to create and shape a conversation for you to have as a jumping off point. By no means are these conversations definitive. They're meant to be infinitive. I want you to take what you learn and go talk to people about it, talk to your team about it, talk to your friends about it. How will talk to your parents about it maybe you know, kind of ask their thoughts and questions and observations. And I think that's really where I think you're going to start to see a lot of fruitfulness come from the possibility of what can happen when you know, you get creative with the cannabis industry. So without further ado, let's

just welcome Dennis to the show.

Dennis O'Malley  6:32  
Hi, I'm Dennis O'Malley, the Chief Operating Officer at the parent company. The parent company came into being this year, January 15. Before the parent company I was the CEO of Khalifa and cleaver was my first entrance into legal cannabis in 2017. So January 2017, it's been a

Shayda Torabi  6:52  
great ride. And y'all are based in California. Correct? Correct. So

Dennis O'Malley  6:56  
I'm physically based in San Jose, California, which is right where our manufacturing headquarters are located, as well as our Support Center for all of California. So that's where I'm based today live just north in San Carlos, California.

Shayda Torabi  7:10  
Okay, very cool. Obviously, California is an OG when it comes to cannabis. And to kind of further dive into a little bit more understanding between Khalifa and the parent company. You mentioned the parent company was recently founded. But obviously, Khalif has been in the marketplace for a couple of years now. What was the purpose, I guess, of introducing the parent company? How does that structure around cultiva? And from my understanding, you are vertically integrated? So what does that mean in relationship to the operations of you know, the umbrella that is the parent company?

Dennis O'Malley  7:45  
Sure, it's a great question. So the best way to think of the parent company is really not as a holding company, but as a one unified company. And I think, you know, in our continuous communications, we're looking to do a better job of explaining to consumer that it is one company, we have many different facets to the company. But if we step back for a second and say, you know, why did we come together at the beginning of the year for the SPAC it really was, as you discussed, to complete the vertical integration, which is so critical and important to compete in California, to control your cost and your quality for all of the production of goods that you produce. And for us, we have a wide brand portfolio of eight you know, own brands, we have a number of different partner brands, and certainly within our retail and online, we distribute a lot of third party brands. But for those own brands, today, we are fully vertically integrated. So what that means is that from all of the indoor flower, we make that in house everywhere from the genetics all the way through the harvesting, through the packaging of that we recently acquired an outdoor farm in California as well. So we have the access to the outdoor farm. So from the raw materials in terms of the flower which we're all here because of the amazing power of the plant. So within flowering cannabis in terms of being able to grow that and own that from seed to sale. Second part about that is when we came together as a parent company wasn't just cleave it was also left coast ventures LCV as well as sisu. And sisu is one of the largest oil manufacturers in the state of California out near Rica. And so we have in leverage, you know, they're really best in class triple distilled distillate that we utilize in some of our best selling products like fun uncle cruisers, that was recently ranked and by me BTSA is the number two SKU within our berry gelato within the state and that product line didn't exist, you know, at the beginning of March so having access to the raw flour and the raw material was really critical Left Coast ventures brought together a number of great brands for including Mariah in Mind your head and chill and some partner brands around yummy karma and Cush, queen, all of which we're still partners with today, as well as some manufacturing capabilities. So really it was combining those entities into one to complete the vertical integration really was the was one baseline foundation part of that. Second is we knew that moving forward, that direct to consumer go to market was really a critical go to market within California. And so that really was about ensuring that we were going to have a direct relationship with the consumer, that we are going to be able to give the consumer a great journey and great experience everywhere from they're researching cannabis, to buying and trying cannabis. But more importantly, over the lifetime of a consumer within cannabis. It's a complex journey where there's a lot of experimentation. And we really wanted to create an ecosystem where they felt safe, where they felt educated. And they had some place to be able to go throughout their experimentation within cannabis to be able to find what was right for them. And so building that in a direct to consumer journey, and whether it's the you know, the loyalty part of that, whether it's our, you know, online part of the business, which is both delivery and both pickup or whether it was in store that was critical to and I think the last part about this back, which is important to note is we certainly partnered up with Jay Z, and then you know, his brand monogram, to be able to bring that wholly within the parent company. But almost more importantly, than any of the brands is really what the mission that we're on, and the creation of our social equity ventures fund to be able to have an invest, you know, $10 million, and dedicate those funds to black and brown entrepreneurs in cannabis to us as a venture fund to ensure that those entrepreneurs would be successful. And we've made two great investments with two incredible entrepreneurs, you know, Jesse Gundy over at peaks and Whitney Beatty over at Josephine and Belize, both of you I'm happy to talk more about but if you look at the overall reasoning for the SPAC it was really to be able to create the most impactful company in cannabis impactful based on the number of consumers that were able to positively affect, but also how an impact in terms of how much we can advance inclusion within the industry. And it was at the time, the you know, a great fundraising capability for us to be able to use that access to capital to be able to go out and acquire other companies within the state of California. So the best way to think about the parent company is one consolidated Company and brands like monogram, our flagship brand and and brands like kaliba in brands like deli and fun uncle Mariah and Mind your head are all brands underneath that company.

Shayda Torabi  12:48  
That was incredible. I really appreciated that breakdown. And honestly, I don't know how you keep track of all the different moving pieces of what's going on within the company. Because obviously, it's very fast paced from a cannabis perspective in general, but just stepping back cannabis aside, just operating a business. And so I shared before we were recording that I come from a little bit of a corporate background. And so I understand the benefits of structuring a business with different tiers, different departments, obviously, it's an undertaking when you do want to scale. And I mean, it's a great mission that the company has to want to impact all these different individuals who are looking for relief and the benefits that cannabis can provide. But also trying to operate ultimately, as a business, which I think sometimes gets lost in the translation of oh, I just want to sell the plant, I just want to, you know, make the plant accessible to people. But realizing, understanding the foundation and building that with the foresight of not building a brand for today or just tomorrow, but really for the impact of a 1020 plus year company. And so one thing that I picked up from your website, which I thought was really unique that I don't observe a lot of other cannabis businesses really highlighting and that is your brand promises and your company values. And those are displayed on the website. And so I was just wondering if you could help explain a little bit more of the importance of why the parent company or rather Khalifa maybe if that was where the original intent came from structured, the core values and why those are displayed on the website and kind of what that impact does with every action and role within the company.

Dennis O'Malley  14:22  
Yeah, it's a great question. And as we, you know, continue to evolve through every different acquisition and every different iteration, you know, our values continue to, you know, evolve and iterate as well. But you're right, and that we, you know, certainly had what we considered, you know, core key values to the company, and that we, you know, we really use those as guiding principles. But I think if, before I talk and dig into some of those values, I think you have a really good point in terms of some of the complexity that can happen in cannabis and anybody in the cannabis industry would be the first to you know, say it's a challenge and there's A ton of different challenges and complexity and a federally illegal business that, you know, has, you know, crazy tax rates, and all of those types of things and marketing challenges, happy to get into some of those. But I think at the end of the day, I think what's important is, you know, we've always used a North Star as informed consumer. So we've always thought about the consumer first, and everything from when we're planting the plants to when we're packaging, you know, the jars and the as to when we're servicing the customer, we always need to keep the consumer in mind. And that informed consumer is just asking a question, which is, what am I putting into my body. And if we think about that, that informed consumer is normally coming to us, because they want to be able to alleviate pain, they want to be able to get better sleep, they want to be able to control anxiety, or they just want to be able to take the edge off. And we're you know, very much non judgmental in terms of how you consume, you know, this organic plant, which are our bodies in endocannabinoid system, you know, it's fit to be able to react to and it's been, you know, proven for 1000s of years that that medicinal benefits. And so I think it's important to note that regardless of the business that we're in, we always have to keep the consumer in mind to in terms of just business operations, you can get into brand strategy and channel strategy and all those types of things. But you need to break it down into something really simple, which is we make market sell and support cannabis products. And we want to do that better than anybody in the world. And so when you look at that, part of what you know, that value system, is, how do you do that? And how do you bring that to life? And how do you be a purpose built company where people believe in your mission, and so on the value side of things, you know, our company values have been integrity, positive energy, bias to action, connectedness and truth seeking. We use these in moments where there's a challenge in terms of where and how do you have, you know, make a decision, we use these when we have, you know, a to different departments who are trying to decide one way or the other, we use these interpersonal, you know, communications, we use these to be able to, you know, recruit the right type of people here. We emphasize these when we're trying to get down to the root of the issues. truth seeking is a great one. And the way that we use truth seeking is don't listen to anybody's assumptions. And and don't hear that, you know, we've only done this before, and don't take anything at face value, ask the question, why and how and where did that come from? And we often, you know, go to do that. What I enjoy the most is when we have a tour, and when we walk through the manufacturing tour, the the feedback that I get the most is that, wow, everybody was really energetic and happy, you know, throughout the tour, and there's nobody's given anybody a heads up on that. And no, there's just observations, but we're really have associates are really mission based. And that makes a huge difference. And those values certainly ladder up to that mission that we talked about being the most impactful cannabis company. And I think when you look at that, and purpose built brands, and you talked about this, in terms of doing that for longevity, we were we have a new CEO, Troy Dasher, you know, has spent his career building, you know, incredible brands at Clorox and Procter and Gamble, and he's really, you know, provided just an amazing amount of guidance and CPG expertise to the company in a very short period of time, which said, how do you actually go through thinking about building great brands? And what does that mean? And so, I think, you know, his leadership is really helping us do that. No, by the way, we have achieved Visionary Officer, Mr. Shawn Carter, who's, you know, has really built these, you know, timeless brands, and aspirational, you know, brands, and we're, you know, extremely fortunate to have a partnership with him as well. So, that's how our values fit into what we're doing. And then, you know, the brand promise that we've, you know, looked at as is continuing to evolve, but at least we started on a brand promise that said, you know, consistency of product, we want the consumer to always have and know what that product is going to be every time they they purchase it a transparency, if the consumer wants to do a deep dive to understand how it was made, that we provide them enough information. And then more and more, we've been leaning on this accessibility, we really want to be able to have our products accessible on a convenience basis for when and where consumers want this. We had this well before COVID But certainly when COVID hit, you know, that was really a ramp promise that was critical to us, which was, hey, if stores were closed, how do we ramp up you know, delivery and how do we do that in a safe manner in our business in DTC fundamentally changed, you know, back on that, you know, March I think it was 16th You know, 2020 when When California was the first Shelter in Place state, and then, you know, certainly the Bay Area was the first Shelter in Place region, and the amount that the team did and to be able to introduce curbside pickup, and contactless electronic payments that same day just shows, you know, how much innovation and iteration it takes to survive in cannabis. And kudos to the team, you know, who was able to kick that off? No, that's so

Shayda Torabi  20:27  
powerful. And I really appreciate you taking the time to articulate that the way that you did, because, again, the listeners I mean, like, I hope everybody's listening and taking notes to the extent that this is really great food for thought of how do you think through some of these known challenges in the industry, while also trying to establish something bigger than ourselves and something ultimately, that is, you know, delivering a product to the hands of consumers, which is something I talk a lot about on this podcast? Like, yes, there's all these different components to being in the cannabis industry. But at the end of the day, you're putting a product in the consumers hands, what is that experience of that person from consumption to shopping, to receiving to education? And how do you empower that person. And I reflect on that a little bit to being in Texas extra, especially because we don't have as open cannabis laws. And so I need people to be educated through the journey so that they have a better positive experience with cannabis versus I think sometimes, unfortunately, there's obviously so much breath in the industry, that there's all types of products, all different price points, all different brands and packaging, and some that do take everything that you're saying to heart, and are executing on those values. And some that are unfortunately, taking advantage of the marketplace, the consumer, the unknowingness, and just the mystery around cannabis. And so I think that, you know, I try to stress for people to be more forthcoming with what their overall goals and missions are. Because I think that's how you're going to really build loyalty and advocacy out of your customers versus just a transaction, which it's fine to do transactions, obviously, money drives everything at the end of the day. But if you get a really trying to build longevity and create legacy, you want those customers to become advocates. And so I think you guys are, you know, obviously on that journey of doing just that. So kind of going into the next question, obviously, this is a marketing podcast as well. And so I am curious how marketing plays a role in relationship to all the other functions of the business knowing that you are vertically integrated. Cultivation is very important, because if you didn't have the cultivars and didn't have the plant, then you obviously wouldn't have anything to be selling at the end of the day. But as a marketer, I understand the value of marketing, educating, packaging, labeling, all those different components are what is creating that consumers again, experience with what is maybe starting out as the plant. And so from your perspective, especially both historically being the president of kaliba, as well as now the Chief Operating Officer of the parent company, operationally, where do you see marketing fitting into the mix for your companies and your brands?

Dennis O'Malley  23:01  
Yeah, I think there's probably two different areas to talk about. One is that, you know, we again, have the fortunate spot to be able to witness the master class of marketing that, you know, Jay Z puts on with monogram. And so when you think about that, the monogram marketing starts with the product. And if you think breaking down monogram and looking at just even the packaging and the recognition that it's receiving for the packaging, right, it was a finalist within Fast Company in terms of the best packaging, not just in cannabis, but any CPG company, which is amazing and continues to get recognized for that. That's one part of what that marketing is. On the other end of the spectrum, if you look at marketing in terms of you know, performance or growth marketing, and you look at our, you know, DTC business, we care a lot about, you know, that consumer journey, we care a lot about getting the right customers, we care a lot about ensuring that the customer has the right expectation and is going through what they need, whether that is, you know, an online chat, whether that's a phone call, whether that's a virtual consultation, we care a lot of what their journey is, on the website, we care a lot about the app, they clean the app, it's now available on the Apple App Store, in terms of what that journey looks like we obsess around retention rates, we look at our loyalty rates. So we're really there to ensure that the customer has the right selection, that we have the right, you know, price points, that we have the right type of communications from them, and that they have a great experience. And so we look at things like our product reviews, you know, by brand on our website, we look at the service reviews that you'd see on, you know, Google, and Yelp and those, you know, third party capabilities. So we look and internalize all of that. And it gives us great data points to be able to adjust a lot of our production and productions, either the form factors that we're producing or all the way to just the stream selection. And obviously, we take in addition to that first party data, we combine that with third party data that we're seeing In terms of, you know, category analysis, whether it's headset or whether it's BDS data, or new frontier or even, you know, cannabis benchmarks, we we take all of that data to be able to look at and say, Hey, how are we doing against our peers overall? How are we doing against you know, categories are there some open categories that we should be looking into, but in the end of the day, we're here for that informed consumer we really care about and how well we're doing with them.

Shayda Torabi  25:33  
Hello, just want to take a quick moment to thank my sponsor, and full disclosure, my company restart CBD, restart. CBD is a brand that I built with my sister. So we are family owned and a women owned, we do operate a brick and mortar in Austin. So if you ever find yourself in Central Texas, we'd love for you to come say hi. But we also ship nationwide and we carry a wide range of CBD products, we really care about this plant, we really care about educating our customers, this show would not be possible without their support. So please go check us out at restart cbd.com and use code to be blunt for $5 off your next purchase. Thanks. And let's go back to the show. No, it's very aspirational. I mean, you touched on a lot of different things that I definitely did want to highlight from offering these consultations to the app, especially I read somewhere that prior which it shouldn't be surprised to anybody. But I think when you're a consumer, you don't realize quite the limitations that cannabis goes through from being an app in the App Store. And so I was reading that Apple had kind of finally opened up a little bit on allowing cannabis apps on their platform. And y'all were one of the first to actually bring to market an app for your customers to be able to shop and be educated on so if you could speak a little bit more about some of those really curious about the app as well as the consultations. I think, in a day and age where we can be educated by so many other things. I think sometimes it's missed that human connection. And so I thought that it was a really human touch to be able to provide a person consulting another human being on you know, their unique journey, because that is really it at the end of the day. I mean, I think, yes, cannabis can just be indica, sativa hybrid, but everybody's endocannabinoid systems are different. And so being able to dig in further into not necessarily maybe the different products uniquely to that consumer, but really that unique consumers purpose or reasoning for wanting to consume cannabis, right, and being able to get into some of that nuance in detail through these one on one conversations. And so I personally just don't see a ton of brands adopting both of those practices. And I'm curious how those came about? What was kind of the timeline? Was it a, we're gonna try this and see how this goes? Or is it something that's really been implemented from the beginning that you wanted to make sure you offer to your customers?

Dennis O'Malley  28:02  
Yeah, I mean, I mean, I think if we just take a step back in terms of just the funnel, I think there's a couple different ways that we look at it, right, if and I go back to monogram again, so in the restrictions that we have within, you know, traditional marketing that we can't market on Facebook, or Instagram, or, you know, Google AdWords, and there's no real direct response advertising that you can do, you have to do different things. And so, you know, again, part of that is if you look at, you know, monogram company comm that is a non transactional engagement website, where you can see the behind the scenes from that good life, you know, Hype Williams campaign, where you'll see you know, what that new chapter in cannabis is, but that is a, you know, own property. And then if you look at, you know, YouTube, there's a series that monogram put together around, you know, hi tales. And that engagement in terms of that series, has been an incredible engaging series that has, you know, been able to really engage customers in an authentic, relevant way. All of that helps in terms of when somebody is coming out to pick their purchase in terms of, you know, in this case, how are they picking up a monogram product on our website or on our app. And when we see that they're coming in to go do that, a couple things that can happen, we see a probably about, you know, 70 to 75% of our consumers, when they're actually accessing kiva.com Today, they're doing so on their mobile phone. And so you know, being able to have an app for us was really critical, but even when they're on their mobile phone, or whether they're in the app chat is a normalised method for people to get really quick, you know, answers to their question around, you know, do you have monogram in stock? What's that? You know, tell me about the new number eight, what does that look like? Where How is there a review on this? What can I expect and so, we see normal type of consumer interactions for that where we see the virtual consultations really make an impact his new customers when they come into a store, those Do customers are generally spending 12 to 15 minutes really asking questions around, hey, I need to go to sleep or my husband's too stubborn to actually buy anything or you know that they said, Hey, I don't want to get high. And I don't I want to be discreet. So but I heard this is, you know, non synthetic, not addictive, what do I do? And a large portion of the people who are on these virtual consultations are seniors, and they're spending a good amount of time feeling comfortable asking the questions where they're not rushed, there's not a line behind them, right. They didn't have to go through a security guard and, and show an ID and be in an environment that just wasn't, you know, what wasn't comfortable for them. But they're asking the questions right around, Hey, what is a 21 CBD ratio? If I take a tincture versus lotion? What does that do? Does the lotion if I put the THC lotion? Does it get me high? So all of these questions, and we have a great team of wellness consultants, we don't call them bud tenders, we call them wellness consultants that they're trained, a lot of them have gone through, you know, formalized training from our, you know, our great partners there who are putting together, you know, the gonji air program, in terms of really almost being a Somali a, of cannabis. And so we are partners of green flower is our partners, you know, with that, and so, when you look at those types of things, I think education matters. And back, you'd asked a question about trust, we really felt that, you know, consumers are looking for a trusted service, a trusted experience, they're looking for trusted experts, and they're looking for products that they can trust. And that goes into everything that we do is to be able to provide that, you know, a trusted product that meets its brand promise, a trusted, you know, expert behind either the counter or you know, behind a zoom and certainly trusted experience when we deliver that through delivery through pickup or through an in store transaction.

Shayda Torabi  31:51  
You explaining a little bit more about the wellness consultations kind of got my brain thinking. And so this is a little bit of, you know, interesting question I'm going to pose to you, you know, as a marketer, good as a marketer, you know, you're usually told slash taught to identify who your target consumer is. And so when you're expressing, obviously, the impact of Jay Z and his monogram line, as well as these, more than not, you know, 55 plus consumers coming in through, you know, this other kind of means of education. How does the brand kind of track and manage that? Do? Would you say that you have a target consumer? Or are you really trying to kind of create, maybe that's where the, again, the the parent company, but kind of the umbrella of all these different brands, maybe each of the different brands kind of speaks to maybe particular a different type of customer, I was reading up with yours launch of the dime, deli diamond, it's still a good quality, but it's more reasonably price point entry way for someone to get into cannabis. And so can you speak a little bit understanding who the consumer is, and obviously, who your target consumer is knowing that you have all these different brands, all these different outputs and inputs of how people are engaging with your companies?

Dennis O'Malley  33:06  
Sure, it's a really good question. And we're consistently learning and consistently, you know, exploring where and how the cannabis consumers is evolving. And I think that's what's most exciting is there's a massive evolution and really a groundswell of people saying two things saying one is, I want to be able to take over and own my own health and wellness. And I want to be able to choose a plant based solution. And so when you look at those two things together, that there's an overwhelming amount of, you know, new consumers who are coming into the space and so the consumer demographics changing, but I think, you know, as you look to our California focus, we're one of the largest DTC providers with now 11 stores and we're super proud and happy to have you know, our call West Hollywood dispensary, and then our coastal stores from everywhere from Vallejo, and Stockton, and, you know, in Santa Barbara and Pasadena in West LA, and Jaden journey and right outside of Modesto there. But each market is a micro market and has a different consumer set. So what's been really important to us is that we have a great first party brand portfolio that serves a wide variety of needs, but also that we supplement that with a lot of great third party partners as well. And we go to market in conjunction with them. So I'll give you a great example. We have a partnership where we have an exclusivity for a flower called Pine Park. And it's with a very well known, you know, online gamer called hex and, you know, the amount of following that he's had and in the engagement, we had a launch out in in Santa Barbara and it drove you know, tremendous amount of actually online traffic throughout the state. So I think when you look at the question around who our demographics are, we've developed a very broad first party, third party, broad portfolio to serve really all of the needs in states that consumers are looking for for where we're always trying to get better is to have a seamless experience of, for instance, ensuring that you know, the app has more of a personalized and relevant experience to who that buyer is. So you have the ability to be able to say, here's the types of categories that I'm interested in and alerts that I want to see. Or the you know how to stack rank, actually, my products, and I think is you'll see over time, that we'll get to a more and more personalized capability for who that consumer is really putting the power into the consumer as to what they want to see from us in a personalized manner.

Shayda Torabi  35:33  
Yeah, it's very, I mean, you bring up Pine Park, it's really interesting, the weight that some of these individuals obviously carry in their maybe perhaps other industry or with their kind of original business, and how they're kind of building that bridge into cannabis. And it's bringing maybe a new type of consumer or just opening up a different conversation. And obviously, pine Park plays on a lot of nostalgia, I was reading about the brand, kind of, you know, the promotion of it and everything. And so my follow up question to that a little bit, too, is kind of maybe twofold. One, I definitely want to touch on partnerships. I mean, y'all have secured obviously, Jay Z is kind of brought in house now helping operate things. But with the introduction of pine Park through Hector, he's obviously very influential in his own regard. How do you see partnerships playing a role in how you're going to progress and educate the next generation of cannabis consumers, as well as kind of what is the go to market plan? I mean, you mentioned earlier, what the brand was that y'all launched just in March. Now within the market today, I can understand a go to market can take sometimes weeks, perhaps months, maybe even years. And so knowing that you have all these different moving pieces, I mean, even going back to what you were explaining about monogram, those campaigns are very high quality, they involve other celebrities, they involve video there involving all these other kind of aspects to these campaigns that isn't just okay, we grew the special cultivars, you know, we extracted it, we packaged it, here's this great product, there's so many more details to it. So I'm curious from a partnership perspective, how y'all have approached that as well as the timeline for having these ideas and actually bringing them to market and execution what that looks like?

Dennis O'Malley  37:10  
Yeah, well, I think to just hit on what you're saying, in terms of partnerships, there's different types of partnerships, obviously, and certainly one of the partnerships that, you know, we've found to be critical for our success is the rock nation partnership. And so when you look at, you know, not only those monogram campaigns, but those are really, you know, supported by and informed by in a rock nation. And so marketing partnerships, like rock nation are a very big deal to us, and other partnerships that we have our our product partnerships. So where we have, you know, first party owned brands, we also have partner brands, a great partner brand that we have is saucy. So it's very complementary to our existing, you know, product line. And if you look at we just launched our, you know, saucy partnership in market a couple months ago, from a wholesale basis where we sell to about 450 different dispensaries in California, it's had a great reception, we're rolling it out to all of our DTC locations now, but that's a great, you know, manufacturing and distribution partnership, that that you'd see in terms of other partner brands, whether you know, we do the distribution, you know, for them, like the yummy karmas, or the Cush, Queens, we really look for great partner brands that fill a need and a niche within what we don't cover today from a first party brand basis. But we have a number of different partnerships in different aspects, whether it's marketing or product, or, you know, technology, etc.

Shayda Torabi  38:35  
And then if you can add a little bit to the follow up of going to market with some of these new products or these new brands, you're in the middle of a launch right now, I believe with pine Park. And so what is the lead time going into maybe signing the deal? You know, bringing this brand into conception to ultimately bringing the brand to life and making that first transaction and customer sale? Sure,

Dennis O'Malley  39:01  
I'm actually going to answer it a little bit differently. That's okay. It's really just the experience of where we came from in this back when we came together. You know, in January, we actually had 17 brands, across the companies and we really needed to go through a brand rationalization on that to get to eight different brands. So I think one thing that we're consistently keeping in mind is how do we focus on you know, brand growth in line extensions and then to the line extensions, which you brought up that all address our deli dimes, line extension, so we had deli nickels and nickels been for five grams in terms of each different edibles and now that we have, you know, deli dimes, so 10 milligrams, you know, per edible, and luckily, we have a great product innovation product management team led by Steve Winchell as a CPG background, who really puts together a thoughtful product roadmap where we do all of the testing and whether that's you know, shelf life testing, flavor testing. but also consumer testing before we do any type of launches. So we're very thoughtful and thorough in terms of what that process is, in terms of price points, we're able to release that in our own direct to consumer channels before being able to look at what you know, happens for those products outside and wholesale. So those line extensions, it always depends on what type of form factor funnel cruisers, you know, that, which is, I think, number 10, or 11, within the state in terms of, you know, vape pen units today, if you look at that, that line extension really was created within those two months of posts back and then and then launched in mid March. So that was a two month timeframe where the team came together and said, Hey, how do we utilize our capability to have, you know, vertical integration and come out with a disruptive price point at a very high quality, and then put together really a product plan around that, and then came out with two line extensions. One was with, you know, live resin. The other one was with extended flavors with that. So that is, I think, a line extension and rationalizing some of the brands in terms of launching the brands, they really is determined by the size and scope of what you have. And sometimes those brands or retail stores, sometimes those brands or products, but it's definitely varied.

Shayda Torabi  41:17  
Now, that's very fascinating and fair to, you know, kind of shift the answer to the question because it is just one of those things, I think, especially for my own playing in the CBD market, compared to the, you know, legal THC market, we have certain limitations for what we can and can't do. And so I think from bringing a product to market, I find sometimes I don't have the luxury of being, okay, what's maybe missing in the market because that cannabinoid that we're, you know, leveraging in our illegal states is maybe not something that will be around for the next, you know, foreseeable future. And so it's really hard, I think, to think creatively in the non legal cannabis market. And so obviously getting to just listen to you and and hear a little bit more about the thought process behind the parent, company and cleaver with all the different brands that you're managing, I can imagine that there's so many moving pieces. So to stay on top of it to kind of leverage the data to layer on top of all the different outputs that you have to bring it into the inputs to ultimately make a decision of, hey, here's an opportunity is something that is missing in the market. Let's go bring it to fruition. So is there anything kind of final that we didn't really discuss in the last couple minutes that you really want to share? Maybe any tips that you have for someone who's trying to look at, you know, kind of how to find their place in the cannabis industry and make a mark?

Dennis O'Malley  42:32  
Yeah, I would say that the work that you do early on, and you really touched on this in terms of the values in terms of the brand promise in terms of what your Northstar is, it sounds silly at times before you have a product and before you have a go to market strategy, but it really serves as a guiding light and really is a good benchmark to see how long those can stay in place to see what whether you were on the mark. And so that, you know, if you look back in terms of the Cleveland where I think we're six years old now, and some of the staying power in terms of what some of those kind of, you know, early thoughts were is good validation for us. So my recommendation is when you build start building things, you know, think about long term, and we had thought that we knew long term, but again, with choice leadership, and really building you know, what long lasting brands, you know, look like and then again, being just inspired from what, you know, Jay Z's continued to do on a basis. It really provides a long term perspective, it's hard to do in cannabis. But I think having that long term perspective upfront, really helps make the right decisions over the long term.

Shayda Torabi  43:45  
I don't know about y'all, but I learned so much from that discussion with dentists from how they think about the customer to the different brands and products under the parent company's brand house that they're delivering to the market, you can tell that they're thinking holistically of how to bring this conversation to the consumer. And y'all I talked about it all the time on the podcast, but we are selling to consumers. This is a CPG conversation, consumer packaged goods, and thinking of the totality of how that customer is entering into the discussion, what their questions are, what their concerns are, how to meet them where they're at, and ultimately deliver a product that's going to hopefully not just meet their expectations, but exceed them as well, of course layer on top of that all the inspiration that this brand and his brand house has brought to market. Definitely I think it's really interesting, all the different go to market campaigns that they've put together. Just from a visualization perspective, it's very enticing to see the appeal of how cannabis is being positioned and packaged. And yes, there are so many different consumers in the market, continuing to hit the market. And I think you're just going to continue to see more diversification in terms of different brands how those brands speak to those consumers. And again, ultimately drive those products in the marketplace. So hopefully lots of food for thought for you guys with this episode really can't thank Dennis enough for coming on the podcast, I really, really look forward to these conversations because again, it just peels the curtain back and gives us some sort of framework, whether you're operating in California or Texas, or a new emerging market like Oklahoma, there's so much that we can learn from these discussions that we can hopefully take back. And, you know, ruminate on and see what works for our brand or for our customer base or for our target niche, or ultimately, you know, our unique consumption method of a product and kind of what we can do to deliver on that expectation that we're ultimately selling to the consumer. I really think that so much of what's happening in the cannabis industry is getting lost in translation, unfortunately for some of the smaller brands that maybe have not taken the cues of some of these bigger brands or these brands that have influenced from outside of the industry, from other successful industries and how you like parlay that into again, selling a consumer packaged goods that just happens to be cannabis. So hopefully you guys got some gems from this episode. If you did, we'd love to hear your thoughts always please connect with me on social media. Otherwise, thanks for tuning in to another episode. We will be back next Monday with a brand new one. And hope you guys are having a good one. Take it easy, and thanks again. Bye y'all.

Announcer  46:28  
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