“The best brands are the ones who constantly look at how can they provide value to an individual, whether that's value to a partner, and sometimes that's impossible, right? But your value to a customer is always viable…Value doesn't have to be some gigantic experience.” - Chris Lane
Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Chris Lane, Chief Marketing Officer of Airfield Supply Company, as he shares the systems and processes they employ in bringing value to customers, the landscape of elevated brand building in the industry, and the significance of effective collaboration for better visibility.
[00:01 – 05:16] Keep the Dialogue Going and Get Connected
[05:17 – 14:26] Chris’ Story from Working with Multiple Agencies to Brand Building
[14:27 – 28:13] The Processes to Elevated and Creative Brand Development
[28:14 – 37:09] Tips to Attract Effective Collaborations via Value Creation
[37:10 – 54:08] The Dynamics of Vertical Integration and Bringing Solutions
[54:09 – 01:02:23] The Challenges of E-commerce in the Cannabis Industry
[01:02:24 – 01:04:00] Food for Thought: How do you go for your idea and make a pitch?
Chris Lane is the Chief Marketing Officer of Airfield Supply Company, the largest single-site dispensary in California. In this role, Chris is responsible for brand and growth strategy across retail and product businesses. With a background in creative strategy and brand building, Chris focuses on building consumer empathy in brands and driving simultaneous top and bottom funnel growth. Previously, Chris was the Global Head of Brand at Fiverr, also leading agency practices and teams at Method, Bite, WPP, and Edelman.
Connect with Chris
Visit https://www.airfieldsupplyco.com/ and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @airfieldsupply
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
“When you have the megaphone, do something of you know, importance, not just for the conversation, but to like, do good with that, too.” - Shayda Torabi
“One of the fun parts about collaborations is you never know what the other side is going to bring to the table or needs you to bring to the table. So, you know, it never hurts to ask.” - Chris Lane
SPONSORSHIP is brought to you by Restart CBD. Check them out for your CBD needs
LEAVE A REVIEW + help someone who wants to join me for episodes featuring some serious cannabis industry by sharing this episode or click here to listen to past episodes
Chris Lane 0:00
You know, your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room is incredibly true in cannabis, especially because of marketing and business conversation, like the lack of paid media channels, the lack of the ability to activate the lack of a lot, a lot of those kinds of things. You really do live and die on your brand on, you know, a shoppers perception of you on the touch points they can find online on your reviews, and your engagement on those reviews and your ability to engage with people on those views. And you know, and all these every touchpoint is magnified in the significance of it. And so, in when you we looked at building a brand, it's very much about articulating that why that? You know, the Simon Sinek Golden Circle, why of what is our reason to exist? And no, it comes down to the mission that that we wrote back in 2015, which is that you know, that we exist to help everyone make the most out of life's journey every day.
You're listening to to be blunt, the 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.
Shayda Torabi 1:26
Hi, y'all. Hello, and welcome back to a new episode of The to be blunt podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, I'm a cannabis business owner and passionate brand marketer. And I want to dive right into today's episode because it covers a lot of ground and has a lot of value that I really want to hype you up on paying attention to. Before I introduce my guests and kick things off, I did want to briefly mention that I've been so incredibly grateful to see the comments come in the DMS the shares of the episodes, and really just want to encourage you to keep it up. Please keep this dialogue going. I really truly believe that the rising tide lifts all boats. And there's so much opportunity to chase after in this industry that my hope in putting these episodes out is truthfully to leave you feeling inspired to leave you feeling creative and with a sense of figuring out your unique purpose and passion so you can connect the dots and go make your corner of the cannabis industry that much more impactful. So if we haven't connected yet, please, please please take a few moments and do that. Reach out to me on LinkedIn reach out to me on social media, you can connect with the podcast at to be blunt pod or connect directly with me on my personal Instagram at the Shayda Torabi and all you have to do is just say hi. And if you feel like adding some commentary about what you've learned from the podcast, that would be invaluable feedback to get I can't express enough how important having a conversation with you guys and getting feedback really is and means to me. So please, I just encourage you to connect to be social engage and help me help you continue to help us build this community bigger and better. Now getting back to the show, I have the pleasure of sitting down with Chris lane. Chris is the Chief Marketing Officer of airfield supply company the largest single site dispensary in California. Let me repeat that the largest single site dispensary in California. In this role, Chris is responsible for brand and growth strategy across retail and their product businesses. And his background is in creative strategy and brand building two of my favorite things, and Chris focuses on building consumer empathy in brands and driving simultaneous top and bottom funnel growth. Previously to working with airfield Chris was the Global Head of Brand at Fiverr and also lead agency practices and teams at method by WPP and Edelman. I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with Chris and picking his brain I've actually been to airfield which is located in San Jose, California. And so it was really neat to be able to ask him questions that were specific to my own experience in their dispensary. But we dove into so much more in our discussion. airfield has been the recipient of a lot of recognition and rightfully so, due to their approach and initiative with so many things ranging from how they handle their own label products to their packaging initiatives to the experience consumers are greeted with when they walk into the actual airfield dispensary to being able to collaborate with other brands in the space to not only grow brand awareness and customer engagement, but really to further the benefits of cannabis. So like I said, lots to cover lots to learn. I hope that you You are just as excited as I am and paying attention. So with that said, let's get straight to the episode. Please join me by lining one up. And let's welcome Chris to the show. Hi, my
Chris Lane 5:12
name is Chris lane and the Chief Marketing Officer at airfields Supply Company, which is a vertically integrated dispensary and retail brand out here in San Jose, California in the Bay Area. Yeah, and my role is really about sort of honing the funnel, if you will. So everything from awareness to consideration to conversion of retention, and really sort of building this brand as much as we possibly can. So my background, I began, years and years and years ago, working in agencies, creative agencies, and strategy agencies and all sorts of things, a lot of Silicon Valley work out here, consumer tech, tech, all those kind of things and then actually sort of found my way slowly into cannabis. Ironically, though, obviously, a creative agency is found plenty of ways into cannabis over the course of the years and production shoots and those kind of things but helping consult airfield about seven G's Coming up on eight years ago now when they were going through a rebrand process. So airfield is one of the largest volume dispensaries in California, in 2015. They're founded in 2010. But in 2015, we're looking to do a rebrand a lot of regulation was changing. They knew the market was coming, adult use, and those kind of things. And so the CEO Mark Matlin brought me in to help work on the rebrand. So it was originally called South Bay Healing Center, back in 2010, you know, medical marijuana focus. And my formal start kind of became, you know, looking at the future of what this market could be, what a true sort of brand could be in it, you know, back in 2014 2015, in the world was very different in cannabis. And so it was, you know, really the one line in the brief, when we sat down and kind of talk about the idea was, let's make it cannabis brand that doesn't look anything like a cannabis brand. How do we create an aesthetic environment, you know, that could be just as easily high end shopping, or cosmetics or boutique that felt welcoming and warm, but still refined, and curated. And so that's where it started at a consultant level. And then I joined full time just under, I guess, yeah, just under three years ago, as chief marketing officer, you know, early 2019. And at a time when the industry, you know, had gone through a lot of change with adult use and those kind of things, but was really just sort of starting to crack that first opening on true sort of brand building and into marketing. And so yeah, I can't remember what else you wanted to put in the intro, but at least in terms of how I got here that that was the very beginning of it, a consulting project turned into a career, if you will.
Shayda Torabi 7:33
That's amazing. I think it's so helpful, I always try to have my guests highlight their personal journey, because there's so many different paths to being in the cannabis industry. And especially when you think of a title like chief marketing officer, right, you think of a little bit more of the formality of maybe like a corporate structure. And so to see that kind of being overlay now into the cannabis industry, and the thought, and the consideration of truly running a business is not new, but how to do it well, and how to do it consistently and build and scale over time, I think we're starting to see, you know, some of the giants who maybe originally started in the industry, they're not really stabilizing, or staying around, I think part of that comes down to, you know, building a brand and actually understanding how to communicate to their customers. And so, if you can, let's maybe start at the top have, you mentioned where airfield went through the rebranding, but I saw a stat in your packet that you know, your PR team sent over and it said 30,000 to 40,000 transactions each month, that's a significant volume, I don't necessarily know, data points of what your next person after you is doing, but just out of what y'all are doing, that's a large chunk of transactions, I know that you are near the airport, I know that that can surely have some influence and where people are finding you. But I know you're a true marketer, I know that there's so much more behind the scenes, and you covered all the different kind of aspects of that in your intro. But if you can just go a little bit deeper into what is that structure of airfield look like? Its vertically integrated, you're seeing all these consumers? How does the brand play into that type of success? Do you think? Yeah,
Chris Lane 9:12
I, you know, it really kind of goes back to the beginning. In fact, back as I mentioned, our you know, our founder and CEO, Mark, Matt Lynch, you know, founded the brand in 2010. And, you know, a lot of the principles that he established back then the concept of customer service of curation of products and quality of experience and in quality of experience, also in a retail environment. You know, those three core pillars really sort of set the tone for what, what you can do with a brand. You know, I'm a firm believer, and I mentioned in the intro, you know, I spent a long time working creative agencies and I was the Global Head of Brand for a consumer tech company that we took public in 2019. The reality is a brand is about a manifestation of beliefs. And so for us here at airfield those beliefs were set 12 You know, almost 12 years ago by Mark when he wanted to look sort of what kind of business did he want to create the, you know, the market back then was unimaginable to what it is now, you know, to a point where marketing could get you shut down kind of things are much worse. And so but that being said, you still need to have sort of core pillars to, to build brand tenants on and those three core pillars of, you know, an exceptional customer service, focus curation of products, and a refined and comfortable and welcoming experience became the three core pillars that it was built on. From there, when we looked at scaling the brand. And we looked at developing sort of this next iteration of the brand that became airfield supply company, it became about okay, how do we bring more life into that? How do we manifest that in different kinds of interactions in retail, right, in E commerce in delivery. And so you know, we you start to build up even more so to think about, okay, because, you know, the Jeff Bezos phrase that people use all the time that you know, your brand is what people say about you, when you're not in the room is incredibly true in cannabis, especially because of marketing and business conversation, like the lack of paid media channels, the lack of the ability to activate the lack of a lot, a lot of those kinds of things, you really do live and die on your brand on, you know, a shoppers perception of you on the touchpoints, they can find online on your reviews, and your engagement on those reviews and your ability to engage with people on those views. And you know, and all day every touchpoint is magnified in the significance of it. And so, in when you we looked at building a brand, it's very much about articulating that, why that, you know, the Simon Sinek Golden Circle, why of what is our reason to exist? And no, it comes down to the mission that that we wrote back in 2015, which is that you know, that we exist to help everyone make the most out of life's journey every day. So when we start to think about how we build a brand on that it became Okay, now let's think about our new retail environment. And what does that look like? What does that feel like? How is it welcoming? How is it educational? How's it surprising? How is how do you expose people to products, they maybe never would have thought about, or to things that you know, that they didn't think were relevant to them, perhaps, but you can expose that to them in a way that's natural, and organic, and all those kinds of things. You know, retail is our bread and butter. So retail is always number one, right? We're constantly thinking about how do we attract people in the door? How do we make sure they spend their time here, not just concluding a transaction, but actually feeling like they left with some value, that sort of content marketing theory of exchanging value for consideration. And then, you know, when you extend that to other elements, whether that's, you know, e commerce, we looked at, okay, how do we replicate what we've now really well defined as a quality experience in retail in a digital environment for us that was that actually came down to building our own e commerce platform, you know, there's a lot of plug and play platforms out there. We made the decision over a year ago now at this point to invest in developing from scratch on Adobe Magento commerce to our own platform. That was because we wanted to be able to have the breadth and depth that you'd have shopping for anything else, you know, whether that's education, content, cross category, purchasing, all these different kinds of things. So, you know, we wanted to manifest again, our brand values into that experience, just fundamental in little touches and big things. Same thing with delivery, when he looked at delivery said, okay, you know, it's like, sort of classic, Barbara Walters, I believe it is question, right? If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Okay, if you are an airfield delivery car, what kind of delivery car would you be? Well, we chose Tesla Model threes, because for us, that feels appropriately reflective, we have a huge focus on sustainability as a company, from the top down, we try to look at, you know, the cannabis waste plastic problem and see where we can deal with it, that also needs to extend into what are we delivering in one what matches our aesthetic, of course, at a brand level, but to what is actually communicate something about our values and our beliefs. So that we we drive away in, we're not in the room, people are left reflecting on the opinion, we, you know, we hope they have in them. But again, customer service, aesthetic and experience and product curation, which is obviously the third piece of it. So we find that you know, where we can infuse those brand values and that why all the way up through those houses and into the what's right. That's where we know we can have a true meaningful difference. And that's what we see ourselves, you know, feeling really proud about what we hear from people when we're not in the room.
Shayda Torabi 14:21
No, I think that is so fun for me to get to hear from you and your perspective, because I do come from the subtleties of I think when marketing works really well, you don't really realize you're being marketed to and it's the, you know, way that you feel when you walk into a space or maybe the language on a on a marketing collateral or message or packaging that just speaks to you in a more human way or like you're describing, you know, the delivery vehicles wanting it to be something that is reflective of these core values of sustainability but also this kind of luxury feel of you are delivering this cannabis journey to this consumer in a way that is really capturing them at a time Maybe they weren't really expecting to be marketed to, but they're in this experience of airfield. And I think that to me is really what defines a really high quality brand, whether it's cannabis or you know, sports equipment or whatever, you know, skincare the case may be, it's these brands that evoke something out of you. So kind of starting with brand as this focal point for the brand that is airfield, I'm curious, what are some of the highlights that are maybe tangible in the way that let's start with like, maybe retail has been evolved from when you first joined to maybe now from a consumer perspective, as well as how you see those different brand touch points. I mean, again, like, your tagline is, like, high as a place. And you know, obviously, aviation and so I remember I mentioned before, we were recording, I've been at airfield before in 2018 2019. And I remember, in the pathways as you're kind of walking along in the store, I don't know if it's the same now 2021, but it kind of guided you, you felt like Okay, again, I feel this aviation kind of theme, but it's not cheesy, like there's airplanes everywhere, it's a very thoughtful like Nuance kind of like you're playing with that customer to delight them in these different ways. And so just kind of going off of that, I'm curious what that kind of process has been like, and how you've evolved that into that retail experience to deliver on kind of everything that we're talking about, about building the brand, the way that you've been building it.
Chris Lane 16:29
Yeah, absolutely. You know, it's funny, you mentioned the floor, the floor is actually was part of that original process of developing the brand. In fact, part of the reason that we knew and Mark especially, you know, knew that that airfield, that there was such a fertile territory in it, I can, I can actually, like tell you, I remember the exact moment where like, the name first sort of came up, because there was we had donate, you know, we went from it was South Bay healing center, it was right there to this right. And that was in that was, you know, patient arise, and it had its own reason to exist in the way it did. But, you know, we sat down, and we're kind of first talking, we're actually it was over a dinner in San Francisco with both of our wives. And we're just like chit chatting about ideas and names. And, you know, obviously located close to the airport. And, you know, Mark was like, well, there's, you know, airplane, it feels a little like on the nose. But like the concept of an airfield, it's just such an interesting idea, you know, you're not going to call it airport, or any of these things, you know, you want to, you want to have some aesthetic to it. But we just started sort of riffing on the idea in, you know, to your point, it's not about always the literal sort of articulation of something when it comes to what makes it really great. We've talked about this a lot in branding, especially agency side when you're doing you know, creative briefs, and strap briefs and those kind of things. But what's sort of that one thing, like, a lot of times the best creative ideas come down to focusing in on one element, and pulling that stretching it out and looking at it, you know, in all of these different ways in the in the depth in it, right, so you're not trying to get whatever runway here and a tower here and a plane here and a guy dressed up like a pilot there, and no person over here, you know, serving up, all that stuff can naturally come up it, that's great. But the idea that really sort of that hit so quickly, was just this concept of sort of taking off, if you will, and that idea of elevating, you know, of lift, and obviously the direct connection that you can have to cannabis and in everything that you the thorough line there, you know, obviously, it's very great pun area, if you get really cheesy really quick. But if you think about conceptually, that idea of taking off, and the excitement, you know, whether it's going on a trip, and that idea of the unknown, and you're leaving, and you know, you're going to a destination. I mean, in fact, the original tagline that we had was destination wellness, but actually at the exact same time that we wrote that tagline, we also started focusing on on high as a place and this idea that, you know, it's about the experience, and it's about the lift, and it's about everything that comes with that. And so when we started to look at how do we manifest that idea of elevation of lifting off of, of this singular concept, we started to think about, then the elements that translate to that. And so the runway strip, and in fact all you know, we'd be remiss not to mention, but you know, all this work we did with our creative partner, Sam Jordan, who's a designer we've worked with, we worked with him on airfield, in fact, probably talking a second about it, but we just launched a brand new flower line or flower company called aviation cannabis. And Sam did the same thing. He was, you know, the lead creative on that project and in the same sort of, experiential process of like, how we ended up with that brand. But again, we started thinking about all these different elements and the little touches, you know, the direct and the indirect touches and, yeah, you know, vaguely striped runway floor, right, you're not following a runway path directly. You are immodestly experiencing the idea of you know, when you're on a tarmac in a plane and you look out, you don't see the whole runway you see the element of it, I'm looking out the window because I'm literally looking at the airport, but like, you know, you see these little people pieces of it. And those pieces represent those moments and you don't know exactly where it's going. And there's planes landing and planes coming and all those kind of things. But we wanted to give that that experience. And then you know, when you think about the environment, the physical environment, you think about terminals, and you think about some of those reference points in terminals, whether it's Wayfinding, and sort of that idea of gates or, you know, a vaguely reminiscent boarding pass that you might use, or all these different things. So, you know, you start to put together something around the conceptual idea. The key is to, you know, to focus it in, so that you're not making something thematic, you're making it sort of rep conceptually representative. And yeah, so that was like a huge focus within development, you know, seven years ago now, on the retail side of things. And now, you know, when we're looking forward, we're always looking at, okay, how do we articulate that in different things? Field Marketing, right? What does that look like in Field Marketing? How do we create, you know, pop ups, whether educational, or whatever we're doing, that have a little bit of that reference, a little bit of that feeling. But what you want people to leave with is the feeling of a concept that you can associate with a brand, rather than like a bunch of direct sort of bullet points on like, oh, yeah, they really like Googled airports and just made a bunch of shit. I don't know if I'm allowed to swear on this. Sorry. But you can watch as you want. All right, good, good. But yeah, it's a lot more powerful. When you feel like you're sort of interacting with a concept rather than than you're interacting with, like a PowerPoint presentation. So that's what we always strive for.
Shayda Torabi 21:29
I mean, I'm literally like grinning ear to ear, I have to say that for the listeners, because like everything you're saying, I just like as a marketer, as somebody who really loves the details. And I love that you highlighted the indirect and these like, direct touch points. It is it's that subtlety that obviously took a lot of time and energy and effort, you're really conscious, it wasn't like you just happened to paint the floor. But it was okay, how do I do this in a way that nods to the overall aesthetic and vision for the brand in a way that's going to bring the consumer on this journey with us as we continue to connect with them and express ourselves with them. And so I just absolutely loved everything you were saying, I think, especially having a creative agency background, and obviously, where you're working more from a client perspective. And so I think that's an interesting, you know, discernment to highlight, too, when you're working creatively from an agency, you're working, perhaps with a client that maybe you're not so close to. And so you can breed some of this, like new life and insight into these conversations then transitioning into in house and now kind of it takes maybe its own little different approach. But you mentioned Field Marketing, and kind of, you know, pop ups, and I know that y'all have a huge, huge focus on collaborations and partnerships. And so I know that y'all did a actual product collab with can for grasslands, I've seen some of the stuff just to social media that you've done physically at your dispensary at airfield itself. So I just want to take some time to kind of talk about the importance of partnerships and collaborations and how you've leveraged your brand out into, you know, quote, unquote, Field Marketing.
Chris Lane 23:02
Yeah, I mean, feel field collaborations. It's a really big category, I think in cannabis, almost more so than in a lot of other industries. You know, almost I think of like shoes, maybe it's like the next one. But like, I don't know why, but seems like everyone's doing collabs and shoes right now. But you know, I think the interesting thing about it is, there's dentistry, in least in California. And I think in most, most GIOS, there are players who have specific skill sets, there's very few people who sort of go across everything, right. And that can even be within a category, right, we are lucky that we have an absolutely incredible cultivation team that grows super premium flower that we're able to sell through our front door under, you know, a premium label as well as also like, you know, other labels that we have like jet fuel cannabis that's like sort of our mid tier line and has a lot of great economy stuff, and all those sort of things. But we don't get into doing a lot of like edible manufacturing or beverage or those kinds of things. And so it offers the opportunity to connect with people that maybe are interested in those categories, or don't know about those categories. On the other side, by tapping in and working with partners who do have that specialty and have that nuance in those places. We are a retailer and a cultivator at our heart and at our core. And so we want to leverage the power we have, I think you said it, you know, we see 1000 to 2000 people every single day, come through here. That means we have an incredible microphone, and megaphone really, to be communicating with large groups of people, but also for our perspective to be educating large groups of people on things. And so we love it's super exciting to be able to kind of tap in and expose people to different markets by doing collaborations, it allows you a lot faster time to market than us trying to go spin up a beverage company that's that's not going to be super fast, or spin up an edible company and get licenses and those kind of things that tap into there. And so, you know, like the collab we did with can was just, you know, we've built a lot of relationship with them and they had an idea and they brought us in on that one actually was a saying, hey, we want to do something really unique. We have a really unique partner sort of through the way their company is set up. And we think we can make something different that isn't just a flavor, but but it's really sort of a talking point. And so, you know, we actually work together with sweet flower down in Los Angeles on developing this so that, you know, the two of us carry it, but it was this idea of the first ever caffeinated cannabis beverage. And it came from working with the artist Tove Lo, who, you know, has a sort of great personality around creativity in the festival culture, and just like having a good time, and just sort of energetic, lively personality. She said, you know, never forget it, like in the in the early part of it. Hey, I love this idea. The only thing I ever think about though it's like sometimes I get a little sleepy from a camera's beverage like is, how could we ever think about how we take that, but bring more fun into it. And so that's where the natural yerba Matei came in, can sort of flavor prowess of saying, Listen, we have these incredible flavors, we're gonna figure out a way to bring in natural caffeine that's obviously compliant, but more importantly, like tastes great. And then we bring that to be able to have our sort of education megaphone to talk with people about, hey, you know, you can enjoy whatever you want to enjoy it. But next time you go to a party, maybe maybe think about bringing this because it's fun, it won't give you a hangover. You know, it's low in calories. And it's really kind of the future of the party. And so like, in that opportunity was an ability to bring together a lot of different a lot of different perspectives, and things to introduce a completely new product category into the market, similar, you know, to things like that we've done collabs with edible companies, we did an amazing collaboration with Kiva on the beginning of the year. And that was all about education as the pure focus rather than exposing a category it was about really sort of using our megaphone for good. So we partnered with a nonprofit called keep abreast Foundation, that's a breast cancer prevention and education nonprofit, out of California. And we produced the first ever nonprofit benefiting gummy line or nonprofit benefiting product that we actually, I would say convinced but it didn't take much convincing everyone was on board brought on partners from other dispensaries other retailers across the state to carry that product, even though it had an airfield logo on it. And frankly, like their field logo on it was, was just because it was there. But you know, we donated $1 from every single unit sold to keep abreast, you know, Kiva match that product. But it also generated 10s of 1000s, if not, you know, hundreds of 1000s of exposures, on the concept of breast cancer prevention, which is one of the you know, one in eight females in America will get breast cancer throughout their lifetime. So like, it's a massively still under discussed topic, but something that we thought we have the chance to put a megaphone on this thing, and talk about it even more. So, you know, we look at collaborations and products. And you know, there's two examples from the last few months, I guess, last year, but have different different ways of kind of trying to tackle it for us. So it's it really is about using the skillsets of a really diverse market in figuring out how to tackle it, I think that's when we think it's really exciting. It's not simply just like slapping a sticker on something and saying it's an exclusive. Like, if you have the chance to do something, you need to do something meaningful. And I think that's where it's exciting.
Shayda Torabi 28:08
Now, I really appreciate that discernment, too, because I think it kind of touches on a little bit of what my follow up question to that was going to be. And also the sidebar is congratulations on the Clio award, I saw that y'all won the award for the actual campaign with Kiva and keep abreast so I think it just goes to show the, like you said, when you have the megaphone, do something of you know, importance, not just for the conversation, but to like, do good with that, too, right? It's not just hey, we're cannabis and we're here to stay? It's okay, well, how can we make an impact in these other areas that are equally as important as being a human being taken care of our wellness in care of our health? And certainly, I want to touch on sustainability, because I know that's a huge thing for you guys, as well. And it's, you know, a big aspect of the industry that has a lot of gaps in it, for sure. But really quick, I wanted to kind of understand, you know, myself included, I know some of my listeners, probably the majority of them are smaller brands and look at collaborations and partnerships probably a little bit more in the way that you just were ending on, which is, hey, can we just, you know, put a label on it, and let's see what we can do. And, and I don't think there's anything outrightly wrong with to crawl before you run. Right? You have to kind of like work your way there. So I'm curious, from your experience with the growth of airfield, you know, how do you approach me because like, obviously, yes, it would be wonderful, delightful, I love can the big fan of Tovolo. Like, I'd love to go pitch myself and be like, Hey, let's make a collaboration. I know that's not how it always works. So, yes, networking, yes, building up your own brand equity, but maybe as a younger, smaller brand, as someone who's trying to establish themselves and make opportunities knowing that collaborations are such a huge aspect of the cannabis industry. I mean, especially in California, it seems like everybody is partnering and collaborating, which can help you know, both brands or all the brands involved, but any insights or tips or just how y'all approached it maybe as a younger brand To where you, you know, do you ask someone who's brandy like like, Hey, you guys, maybe it's not canned but you guys do beverages you want to do a partnership? Or do you kind of let them come to you? Because I think sometimes personally speaking, you know, we try to reach out to brands and they're like, Yeah, that sounds really great. And then they drop the ball because it's not as important to them as maybe it's important to me. So I'm just curious what you've learned going through that.
Chris Lane 30:22
Yeah, absolutely. I would say first, cliche of like, marketing on that one, always. The classic quote that like you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Yeah, so we're waiting for anyone to come to you. It means you're probably never get into anything. I would say like First things first. And like, but that's a reality, right? I think whether you're a big brand or a small brand, I mean, the collaboration we did with Kiva, I mean, that was you know, 10,000 plus units statewide. Massive thing it was actually Kivas first ever product collaboration they ever done. Wow. So like it's not just it's not just small brands that have trouble doing it. It's big brands that that also are like well, what why? You know, like, is this gonna take away from our production schedule our retina I'm not saying keep setting this keep it literally said yes. Like blindly on the spot. Because in totally random aside, but Shani, Shani Jodan. From from keep abreast it she was the one who called me and said, we are talking about partnering. And she's like, I have this dream of making a gummy. And I was like, Oh, that's funny. Because like, I have a dream of doing something just like that. I'm gonna make a phone call, like, give me an hour. And then chemo is like, listen, we're in but we basically have like, one day to pull this off. So let's like let's forget it. So it's sometimes sometimes it's literally just making the call and you get it's the right day and the right time, and I think, but there's also like, to the point on the and I certainly don't mean to downplay the slapping a sticker on it idea, or fully placing a sticker on it, one might say, Thank you, what do you really like? I think, to us, it comes down to value again, like the best brands are the ones who constantly look at how can they provide value to an individual, whether that's value to a partner, and sometimes that's impossible, right? Sometimes a brand is just significantly larger and, and your your value does come in something different. But your value to a customer is always viable, if you can find something unique and something interesting about it. You know, if you're putting a sticker on it, put a fact on the stick. Well, I mean, Snapple, the iced tea, and then 90, it's like one of the most brilliant things ever they did. And so many people have done it, right. It's like the fortune cookie concept of putting, just putting a little bit of wisdom on something, it's something it's transactional, it's like the cap on a bottle. And now that cap on a bottle is turned into something that people are interested in finding out about, you know, I think there is value doesn't have to be some gigantic experience or offer or pitch or donation value can be as simple as a fact, it can be as simple as a concept as simple as an affirmation as simple as a lot of those kinds of things that that people can overlook. But people really do value in their day to day life. Something that adds adds meaning or insight or knowledge. And so, you know, whenever we look at stuff, we think about how do we create intrigue? How do we drive education? And how do we encourage exploration. So if you can hit on one of those three things, or all three, in which case lots of value, like you're creating values. So I think it's not always about the big stuff, it can be about the small stuff and small stuff can be really meaningful too. But it's about finding partners that you share those sets of beliefs with that are willing to commit to it as well. But ultimately, sometimes there always has to be a driver. And sometimes it comes down to someone being willing to really drive to get it there
Shayda Torabi 33:44
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. That was great insight. No truly great I think it's just good food for thought because you can aspire and I'm glad that you kind of pointed out that thing about Keven this being their first collaboration because obviously to the rest of the world. They y'all your your brand names that people recognize as players in the cannabis industry and you know, people who just aspire they want to be a part of it. They want to do what you're doing and how do you get Right, how do you build those stepping stones to ultimately be able to whether it's cannabis or not, I think just collaboration in general is such a powerful way to cross promote, and you know, build equity amongst different brands and be able to kind of like level up the conversation. And so to kind of acknowledge, transparently and a little humbly to write that these big brands are learning as they're going, and it just takes putting yourself out there and being vulnerable, I think, is really great.
Chris Lane 35:27
If anyone tells you they're expert at anything in cannabis, it means they just have no, I love it. I think that's, that's just the reality one on one. But it's true, it's, and sometimes it's just taking a shot. I mean, even before kennis, I remember at the company, it was at prior fiber, it's called, we're a freelance creative marketplace. And we had this idea that, you know, there's this massive global conference called Kim lions in the south of France every year. And, you know, we had been and just watching all these people have all these creative conversations were like, Oh, my gosh, like freelancers are the core to so much of what's going on here. And I remember we just pitched Ken on, like, hey, what if we brought in a bunch of freelancers, and they made an ad campaign, like right in the middle of the festival, and five days, the show everyone like, remember, creativity isn't like, just for the elite. And there's so many platforms like that, you know, here's like, this international bastion of creativity, and they're like, you know, what, like, we're kind of looking to freshen up our sort of brand to like, that'd be great. Let's go for it. Right. But and most people would always say, like, there's no chance you're ever gonna get canned to say yes to like, do something like that. But you also don't know what they're thinking on the other side, you know, another brand could be thinking, we feel a little stagnant, or, you know, we need some creative juice, or you know, what we, maybe we feel like, we're getting too big, or maybe we feel like we're not big enough, or we're not tapping into the market, we're not hearing what's coming from, you know, smaller brands, or people that are out in the streets, more talking, and all those kinds of things. So, you also never know, I think that's one of the fun parts about collaborations is you never know what the other side is going to bring to the table or needs you to bring to the table. So, you know, it's, it never hurts to ask.
Shayda Torabi 37:04
No, it's very insightful. I always try to remind myself and I, that has been my mantra for the past, you know, 10 years, you know, if you don't ask the answer will always be No. So at least if you ask you, you know, at least can try to shoot your shot. So very, very insightful. I do want to transition a little bit to understanding more about the introduction of the brand aviation, which is your newer, it sounds like you have jet fuel, which is kind of your middle shelf offering, how do those structure themselves in the overall airfield kind of operation? You're vertically integrated? Were you always vertically integrated? And at what point did you decide, hey, we want to offer our own flower. I mean, I know economically, when you can sell and grow your own, you make the most profit off of it, but competing in a market where you're now selling against other people, other competitors that you're carrying? And just like, what does that dynamic look like? And then kind of go into a little bit specifically with the launch of aviation? Because it sounds like it's the newest one?
Chris Lane 38:04
Yeah, absolutely. So we have been vertically integrated since the very beginning since 2010. And so for us, it's always been a core tenant of, of our brand identity is the ability again, curation of products, there's no product, we can stand behind more than the ones that we grow, we have tested and we put on our shelves for our consumers. So I think that is it, that's just a value proof point that is fundamental to, to the existence of the company, you know, as that is, as that is scaled. And as we've scaled this company, and as a retailer, you know, it's allowed us the opportunity to explore more of what we know the market is looking for. And so we brought on, we were growing, you know, sort of under the moniker of just have airfield this, you know, essentially our house flower for a long time. And then jet fuel sort of made its way on in about 2018 2019, when we started to look at, you know, we had this opportunity to potentially look at the wholesale market, but also look at wanting to create a little bit more of a narrative around the product side of the business. This is something that you know, we have an incredible cultivation team, our chief cultivation officer, no sweeteners, and Jason fish, our cultivation manager, I mean, these are people that, you know, we've got 50 plus years combined cannabis cultivation experience between them, experts, with a lot of these strains to that we've been growing for over a decade, our jack career strain, one that we've become pretty renowned for and alone, we've been working off of the same genetics for over a decade, specifically. So, you know, a lot of our belief on that side of the of the world has been about, you know, not just chasing strains and chasing sort of the trends, but how do we perfect genetics, how do we perfect consistency, how do we perfect quality? How do we look at flavor, and profile and terpenes, and not just THC percentage, but really, these sort of well rounded product experiences and be able to offer those as as a unique value point to us, but also to, you know, to strategic partners that we haven't so You know, as we continue to sort of scale that, and you know, scale our portfolio, we realized we did have the chance to really develop a premium brand jet fuel is an incredible brand. But aviation is is a brand that we've now, you know, we've been working with a lot of these genetics for a long time. And we found, which are the ones that that consistently reach, yes, really great THC levels, but also much richer terpene profiles and flavor profiles, ones that the bud structure can be really large. And when we hand trim it, I mean, it just looks beautiful, and all these kind of things. And so, you know, we've sort of, we've divided these worlds a little bit, but really sort of organically Chatfield kind of carried a lot of those names for a while. But then as we've as we've gone and gone and gone, and we've realized, we can really create two different worlds here on the product side. And they're related, and they learn from each other, and a lot of ways, but aviation has allowed us to really lean in on the concept of premium flower in today's more modern concepts. So it's not just about what's gassy, and test high and those kind of things. But it is about flavor. And it is about profile. And it is about beautiful bud structure, because it's just amazing. And then we wrap that with, you know, how do we package that in a way to ensure freshness. And so we've invested in significantly in patent pending technology that it's fully and sustainability a second thing we recyclable steel cans and reclaimed plastics, and these kinds of things that we can we have nitrogen dosing, so we nitrogen dose it and seal it and it holds a, you know, an almost perfect terpene profile for up to two years. So we've we've got ensured consistency in the cultivation side of the thing through our team that is just incredible, and identifying the right kind of genetics and working them. Nobody was pop seeds and put them in, put it in the floor, we, we runs and runs and runs. And they're you know, they're, they're the experts in this not me, but in ensuring that anything that would ever make it onto a floor our onto you know, into our product and our label, you know what you're going to get every single time. And then we package it in ways that we know, we ensure the quality of it, and the experience of it. And then we wrap that in a brand that we developed, you know, over the course of the last year to really kind of reflect our personality. Again, going back to that idea of brand articulation. What does a product brand look like for us? Well, for us, it was something that is clean, something that's modern, it's something that looks as good on your coffee table as it does in a bomb, if you will, for lack of a better phrase. And so, you know, we wanted to give that sort of that balance. And we jokingly, again, we worked with Sam Jordan on this project and incredible illustrator out of Austria named cobia. And we wanted to figure out, okay, how do we start to have this interplay between the two of them, and we sort of jokingly came up, you know, early in this process with this, this concept of like the branding mullet, we called it and it was this idea of really clean brand marks and in you know, crisp white looking product packaging with with a clean black mark. But then surrounded by this, this fun, colorful illustration that told these stories that, you know, you kind of got lost in when you're sitting there looking at the can feeling in the right kind of way. And you're like, oh my gosh, I just found a hang glider on this. And this is and now I just found Lake Tahoe and now I'm looking at a compass and, and all of them are weaving together. But it's not so obvious. It's it's a refined illustration, but But it's sort of pulls you in, and then you start dissecting it and you see all these different things. And so, you know, the brand has really been built around this interplay between quality consistency and reflecting that and brand elements with the sort of fun flavor full experiencial adventurous elements that you get into these other things. And, you know, we feel that we've kind of developed a brand that that pushes cannabis past where it's been for the last while, which is, you know, good flour wrapped in just sort of very loud packaging, just everyone's trying to, you know, the best, you know, bag appeal bag, a pillow, it's got to stick out on the shelf like, well, you know, what really sticks out is a gorgeous piece of product that people walk by and go, Oh, my God Is that is that Cosmetics is that from an artisan, you know, whatever food company like there's, there's a reason the trends and all these other industries are moving there. It's because people enjoy looking at nice things. It doesn't just need to scream, it wants to pull you in. And then you want to learn more. And then you open it, and you get this incredible product experience. And then you smoke it. And then you get an even more incredible product experience. Now you're building such a more depth around the world. And we think we've you know, we've started to hit that with aviation. And now it's really just the beginning. So we're we're pretty excited.
Shayda Torabi 44:33
Yeah, I mean, you have me excited. You're very good at storytelling yourself. And so it shows no, no, it's good. It's great. I love it. I think that that passion is so important. But it's also the proof in the package. Right? It's the the dedication that the team has gone through over the years to develop and refine the strains and ultimately the narrative for how you are packaging up this product and bringing it to market. And, and I'm just like, I wish more people were as thoughtful with their any products, but cannabis especially and it's exciting to see the evolution from the traditional. I mean, I was just at mjbizcon. This was my first year going. And we mentioned South by Southwest before. So I do come from a little bit of you know, this creative, you're seeing all these brands activate and I met MJ and I'm like, wow, we keep talking about, you know, we're not just this cannabis culture, but it still is stuck in the cannabis culture a little bit. And then as somebody who grew up, you know, hotboxing, my, you know, Toyota and my parents house, like, I respect the culture, I appreciate the culture, I watch all those movies, I listen to the songs, but I'm also this refined, you know, female marketer in the 21st century, who's like, yeah, I love good packaging, I love a good brand label I love my favorite thing to do is going to the grocery store and looking at all the products, and they're obviously similar in their category. And you're like, like, Why do I like this one over that one. And so taking that thought process, and again, I think to a consumer who doesn't have a marketing background, they're like, how did they come up with these things, but it's the nuance, it's the subtlety, it's like you said, you see the packaging, and you pick it up, and you don't really realize all the different artistic elements and how they all flow together. And so I just appreciate getting to hear that from your perspective, because it's exciting to see that adoption and influence in the cannabis industry. But to transition a little bit, we've been teasing sustainability. I know it's a huge, huge category of focus for you guys, not only in just the packaging, which I thought is really cool of the technology and the way to keep the buds fresh, and just the way that you're presenting it to the consumer. But you guys also developed, I believe it was the first recycled, recyclable met saying that word correctly, recyclability, recyclable program. What is the recycle? Oh, my God, there we go. There we go. Is recycling program. And I think it is something that again, we as an industry, we fight for so many things, there's obviously a lot of attentions that need our focus, but sustainability on when you're buying all these products, the states requiring you to put them in a certain way and label them a certain way. But there's and then also, I think, with the maturation of the industry, where you have the influence of this, like big corporate or big celebrity or big media, it's like, oh, look, we're gonna glamorize this experience of cannabis. And then you're left with all this packaging that more or less, it's a lot of waste, right. So if you could just talk about, you know, the importance of that the influence that airfield has had in that conversation and kind of what you've done to inspire and encourage more sustainability in the cannabis industry.
Chris Lane 47:45
Yeah, it all really began, honestly, about two and a half years ago, about November of 2019. In fact, and it began, as many things do at airfield, our CEO, Mark, Matt Lynch, you know, kind of came in one day and said, You know, I was just thinking about it, and he's a big surfer and very sustainably conscious person. And, you know, I think it's something that obviously is most around a lot of people's minds. But, you know, we're kind of doing the math on how many people we see every day, and how many products those average people buy, and what the materiality of those products are on a daily basis. And you can sort of quickly back the back of the napkin, or back of the envelope front of the napkin, whatever, wherever you're reading, do the math and realize, you know, you're putting a lot of plastic waste out in the world. And to your point, a lot of it is there for good reasons, but it's bad solutions. You know, I don't think anyone's gonna argue you know, Tamper Evident childhood system those are there's bad things, there's, there's good things in the world. But you know, how do we find creative solutions that were often just wrap it in plastic, put a plastic box on a create a little button that's made out of plastic, all these kind of things that are just landfill? Landfill materials. And so we started kind of like looking at the products we carry, we started talking with our partners, we actually sent an email out to everyone, every vendor we worked with and said, Hey, listen, we we all know, this is a massive issue. We know we're all trying to keep our head above water. But we need to do better. We're going to start by committing that we're going to move all of our products that we produce in house to the most sustainable packaging we can possibly buy January 1 2020. Hilarious to think about now, but and, you know, he said, we hope you do too, we would like for you to consider it. You know, we have no power over what you do. And we're just one person, but we're gonna start thinking about it and considering it in our procurement processes, because it matters to us. And it's a belief for us. And that kind of sparked a lot of conversations. Some with brands, they're like, We totally agree. We're working on this solution, that solution. There's a lot of siloed knowledge out there in the industry. And we're trying to bring together that knowledge in a much more cohesive way. But even that is incredibly challenging. You know, creating nonprofits, we've had a lot of really exciting conversations about doing research into this in fact, with several very large name universities and California that I won't name. But you can imagine a very large public university that's based in the Bay Area, who that would be who's very excited about this. But we need to figure out how we work out some details on that, in order to do it. But a lot of these things kind of led us to developing these relationships with other vendors. And one of them being Ken ucraft, was at the same time parallel to having these discussions with a company called RE synergy that does upcycling. And so they're able to take specific kinds of cannabis plastic waste, and turn it into through a very complex process that I want to pretend to understand very well, but turn it into diesel fuel. And so we basically said, okay, hey, listen, like, you know, this is this is not an answer. This is not, we're not done. We can't just like clap our hands at this, but let's try it. And so we launched in April of this year, the first ever pilot program where we encourage our customers to bring back in their cannabis plastic waste, we put a Ken ucraft picks that way stuff takes it to synergy synergy turns into diesel fuel, that fuel power is Kinnick craft trucks and other things in order to try to, you know, get a bit of a closed loop ecosystem there and cut down on some of that. But the intent was trying to just find an answer, or a partial answer to a problem. More fundamentally, you know, what we're looking at is how do we find materials and that that program, by the way, has been incredible. And actually, now that I figured out we launched it last October, this April, is when we ran a whole thing for for 20. About people bringing in plastic, we tried to gather as much plastic as we could, in one week to see how much plastic waste we could get out of the landfill system, which I can't remember what it was several 100 pounds at this point. And so, but we wanted to see what happens if we motivate a populace. And you know, we ran marketing program tied to that to incentivize people to bring in plastic and all those kind of things to really drive that. But, you know, the deeper more core issue is, is looking at the materials themselves, and figuring out what's right and we have this conversation all the time is I don't think anyone really does know what's right, per se. But you can't, you can't not make any effort. Everyone needs to start making an effort in some capacity, whether that's, you know, reviewing your materials, whether it's bringing on reclaimed ocean, plastics, biodegradable plastics, and plastics, what you have to switching to paper or post consumer paper, all these different things, there's so many different things out there, and they're not that hard to find. And anyone who has any questions, please feel free to reach out to me, we're more than happy, we're actually creating a network of sort of information sharing, to try to start getting manufacturers more in line to that because there's some stuff that's a unique, super unique challenge, like a teacher dropper, the rubber dropper on a tincture, it's very hard to make that out of like a compostable plastic anyway, so there's lots of just nuance out there. But our hope is that we can continue to sort of drive from the front and be a conduit for people who have an interest in having these conversations, in finding better solutions, and ultimately trying to decrease the impact on the world because cannabis is, you know, at its core, it's a it's a plant, it was a holistic industry, you know, it came from a very, very good place. And a lot of times the challenges that that stop progress in a positive way or because of right, you know, whatever they are regulation, or cost or bandwidth or all these things. And the hope is we can bring it back to center and we'll continue to try to drive as a good actor on our side with our packaging lineups. We use reclaimed plastics and biodegradable plastics and anything we can recyclable steel, which is infinitely recyclable. You know, people use glass jars for so many things. Glass, you know, has a terrible carbon footprint. It's actually not airtight. Nothing against glass, right? Feels nice and heavy, which looks nice, but the material inside it, you know, weighs 1/100 of what you're holding in your hand. So there's a lot of reasons that the industry can move in a much more positive way, but still not compromised quality, or cost or you know, our bottom line. So that's really the hope on that conversation when it's all just starting. And it's really interesting to kind of see who's out there doing what different states have different regulations, they have different progress points. It's fascinating. And certainly we're not experts in it, but we're engaged in figuring out how to help where we can.
Shayda Torabi 54:03
Well, it starts with like you were saying, you know, when you have the microphone, what can you do with it and so just starting to have conversations with the people in your circle of influence. So it's great to hear that you, you know, not only took it on internally, but we're kind of you know, communicate and you want to say challenging it's not like you were saying right like, Hey everybody, we're doing this and you better get on board. I mean, you realize I know that it is a much bigger conversation I mean even from my you know corner it's something that we try to be really considerate about. And when you go even look to source packaging, I mean, to me there just aren't enough accessible solutions for brands in general let alone small brands and when you're trying to be like I want to be sustainable I want to do this and part of it like you says the regulation of the state perhaps what they're requiring you to do, but then it's like okay, well what are my options for packaging and when you kind of look at the current landscape, it is really limited and my hope is Yeah, by people, like airfield like yourself and brands that you're, you know, working with Canna craft is another great one that they're showing up to help make an impact to ultimately make some change. And that is how change gets made, right? I mean, just knowing all the regulations that California has gone through, they haven't been the same since when the state opened. And so it's part due to you know, these businesses going online. And then they're giving feedback. And they're saying, hey, this has to change. And so that's really where I think we're starting to see more of this being etched away. But really, really good insight. Final question, just because you mentioned it, and I come from E commerce and technology. What I mean, I feel like that, and he's probably its own whole separate episode. But
Chris Lane 55:40
Sam has a whole series on E
Shayda Torabi 55:42
commerce, I know, I'm always the person who's like, think about your website, your website is so important. But obviously, you guys came to the conclusion that the current e commerce solutions, were just not cutting it. And that's why you went out and built your own. I used to work for a WordPress hosting platform. That was my life before I got into cannabis. And so very closely understood a lot of the nuances of just being online in general creating content, having campaign sides, e commerce, you're working with plugins, developers, design UX, and then you add cannabis into the mix. And obviously, it makes a little bit more challenging just by nature of the legalities of what we're trying to sell. But I'm curious how not to mention the inventory. Well, especially because you're a retail dispensary. And you have this e commerce component. Now I know but just for the listeners right to understand e Commerce does not mean that you can sell your products online to be shipped, right you're you're selling online for curbside pickup or for coming in store pickup or for delivery. But still the output is the same. So you mentioned inventory. I know inventory is a huge pain in my side, because I do e commerce and have one brick and mortar trying to keep track of inventory. And the current solutions are not great for POS systems to e commerce solution. So I understand why you invested in your own solution. But I'm curious to learn a little bit more about your ecommerce operation.
Chris Lane 57:10
Yeah, Nuance is the name of the game, right? It's the balance between between convenience and power. And ultimately, I think for us, again, if we make or break our reputation on our consumers experience, then we can't cut corners on things that we think can offer a better shopping experience. And so there's there's a lot I mean, there's, there's a lot of great plug in play econ solutions for cannabis retailers out there. And you know, especially at certain sizes, you know, when once we start to get to a value game, where we're doing, you know, 1000 2000 people a day we're working with, with a lot of nuance at at scale, which becomes really much more challenging. And so, you know, we made the decision. Last cheese last summer, I guess, late summer, that we wanted to develop our own platform, not because we wanted to spend a year developing a platform, but because we wanted to offer the experience that we thought could be optimal for a purchaser in every other aspect of life. Right now, especially in the pandemic, we know that digital, you know, digital life is, is fundamentally, you used to get your car on there, now you're, you know, people are less, so it's still kind of coming back then. But you know, you're buying your groceries on there, you're ordering your food on there, you're getting your movie tickets, you know, you know, the majority of the majority of life happens on not only just a digital life, but mobile, especially to 80% of our site traffic is mobile to our site, you know, we see 90 to 100,000 users every single month, unique users, you know, coming to, to view our site. So we're talking, you know, we're not Netflix, but we're seeing some volume of what's going on. And we want to make sure that people are coming or having a convenient experience, that they're getting the exact same kind of customer service they get when they're shopping online, they're getting that same product curation that a sales associate can offer, based on a customer questionnaire in sort of, you know, consultation as you can when you're when you're on your phone, you know, waiting for the bus and you're trying to to order product. And so we really developed it from the ground up spent a lot of time you know, doing user empathy research, looking at where people where people are shopping, how they're shopping in cannabis outside of cannabis, and develop a map of a site that that mirrors a lot of the traditional shopping that people just don't get a chance to because people with cannabis still are sort of at this in a lot of ways. They're just happy they can buy it. So they're willing to compromise on like a bad digital experience sometimes because they're like, ah, at least I was able to get online and then have to go wait, you know, in an hour line for at the dispensary. I can just order it from this one page iframe menu and go from there. And all this being said a lot of E commerce platforms are they're improving very quickly, no question and there's a lot of a lot of attention being paid to that which is obviously very good. But for us we wanted to develop something that reflected our intentions and so yeah, we built it. So you can shop by by product category, you can shop by, you know, effect and destination you can shop by we've got machine learning that that auto populates, you know, bestsellers and product recommendations, cross category recommendations, you know, value menus, I think that's you know, a huge place is just the ability to have curated menus, we have probably 50 Different kinds of menus you can look at on our site, that's probably hyperbolic, probably 30. But still, that's 29 More than we had before. And, and you can just, you can shop in a way you want to shop, you know, we were talking about this, and we were launching it. This is It's not like we built the world's best website, we built a website, that is like all of the other ones in the world. But in doing so, like, it allows us to actually just serve on the level that the customer deserves, rather than the one that we're able to kind of do. And that does come down to us having the ability to invest resources to do that. But it's also I think, part of our position. And, you know, back to our CEO, Mark, you know, we he said when we're having all these discussions, and our technology manager, Tom woods, who's really been spearheading this project has done incredible job, you know, with UX research and user empathy and all these things, to really build the case for like, why we need it, you know, that if it's our job to lead from the front, then we need to be the ones taking the risk on things like this. Because ultimately, if we don't, no one ever will. And so if we can step forward, if we can push people to a better experience, and we can push them to now create a connected experience before between digital and retail, you know, our GM and retail Matt Mahaffey was, we were talking about this the other day that, you know, if we get to a world where we have, you can't tell the difference between the two, like, then we've really achieved something because if we can have the best retail experience, and we can have the best digital experience, and you actually don't really have a preference between the two, we're like, God, could you imagine someone's like, I don't really care either way, it works for me. Like that's, that's achieving like that next level of service to the community. Again, it like, just to bring it full circle back to the beginning. It's about offering value. So if we can commit and we can offer value, we're always gonna we're always gonna do it when we can. And ecommerce is just another another explanation of that, or another articulation of it of those brand values so
Shayda Torabi 1:02:19
time to implement what we learned. What was your one takeaway from that discussion? Truthfully, I had so many, but I really appreciated how Chris highlighted their approach to collaboration. And how if you have an idea, you should just go for it and make the pitch. It resonated with me because a piece of advice I received early on in my career that has been instrumental has been that if you do not ask you will not receive. And so yes, you might receive a no and you will receive nose. So you need to prepare yourself for nose. But also you might get a yes. And that's a yes, you wouldn't have gotten had you not asked. So with that said I'm curious to hear what you learned and see what you're implementing. tag me in your posts on social and share with me and our growing community how you're putting these lessons into practice in your own brands and businesses. As always, thanks for keeping it blunt with me. I'll be back with another episode of The to be blunt podcast next Monday, and encourage you to keep championing cannabis in your community by all.
Love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit the Shayda torabi.com/tubi line for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays. And for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at the Shayda Torabi
Transcribed by https://otter.ai