Guest Post: Redefining the Business Battlefield – The Case for Boutique Cannabis

Aug 07, 2015 Editorials and Insight

by Travis Howard, Shift Cannabis Co.

Across all industry verticals, customers are seeking more authentic and personal transactions. Company leaders are being forced to choose between scale and service, and the consumer market is starting to view this dichotomy as “good and evil.” There is a better way… and the cannabis industry must define it!

Most people understand the cannabis industry is positioned at one of the most integral crossroads in business history. Unlike any previous industry, the cannabis “vertical” was already a well-established culture, having existed for thousands of years in various forms. Cannabis as food, medicine, enlightenment, and recreation were cornerstones in social contexts across the world. As a regulated industry has emerged and grown, a battlefield is taking shape, and it is my belief that the victor in this confrontation will set the tone for the entire business environment – not just cannabis – for the next century. The first waves of the clash have washed over Colorado and Washington, but it is early yet and no edge has been gained on either side. Will the influence of the culture developed over millennia be strong enough to defeat the dogmas and principles developed in big business over the past couple of centuries? Will selfish pillaging be the business modality of the future?

It is arguable that momentum is generally on the side of the culture. This can be seen in the bestseller list when both Ask and David and Goliath were in the top three of the list at the same time. The proliferation of farm-to-table eateries across America is also indicative, and finally, even Chiquita Bananas has entered the market of ‘authentic personality’ by attaching the real life stories of their farmers in other countries to their individual banana stickers. Many big industry players across the globe are realizing consumers want more than a transaction when they make purchases. Clearly, the expansive cannabis culture can’t be pigeonholed, but if we take a few core elements, we can define that zeitgeist as close, personal interactions, conscientious consumption (think wise use of resources) and unique experiences designed for purposeful feeling.

If momentum is on our side, why is a war going to be fought? Dollars. Billions of dollars are up for grabs; all kinds will show up, and those for the old regime will fight to defend their fortunes, their power, and their belief structure. Ruthless capitalism has been successful in the past, congregating vast resources into small fractional groups in every major industry on earth.

With past success comes future repetition,
and that is where the nascent cannabis economy has an enormous responsibility.

It is our collective duty to ensure this industry is built correctly from the ground up. Having a smattering of B-Corps speckled about the vertical is not acceptable. Showcasing a signature brand doing things correctly is more indicative of our failure than it is our success. This is the opportunity to merge culture and business, to define not only how this industry will operate and cater, but deliver a blueprint for industries not yet imagined.

It is our challenge to redefine boutique and small,
where they are not describing size and scale,
but rather perspective and action.

It is our opportunity to redefine scale, not as consumption of resources, but by the growth and breadth of a culture. We can build a model where operating boutique can not only provide opportunity for vast financial wealth, but can also be a better, easier means of doing so. We must demonstrate that this model is so much more successful, even in traditional business terms, that future industries no longer see the old system as a viable option. Thousands of years of human culture has passed us this torch, and people centuries ahead count on us.

We must perform.

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