Expert says brands will have to differentiate themselves to succeed
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Pickering ON — August 25, 2021. Durham is seeing rapid growth in the number of cannabis retail stores opening or applying to open — a trend that is also occurring across the province.
At Lolly Cannabis in Pickering, which was the first cannabis store to open in that city, co-owner Danielle Braemer said there is still room for growth with an “untapped” market of cannabis customers who have yet to make the move from the illicit market, to legal channels.
Read full story here and see Braemer’s full response below.
“I don’t think the issue is that there are too many stores. I think the diversity of shops creates an enjoyable experience for customers. Similar to other industries, finding your go-to- the place where the vibe resonates with you or you jive with a particular sales associate- establishing a market place that fosters pleasurable shopping I think is important.
We know the cannabis consumer market is still growing and the majority of that rests in the untapped consumer base who haven’t converted from the legacy to the legal market. Accessibility of legal cannabis is certainly on our side in combating the illegal market. The majority of our team came from the legacy market, managing and/or working for one of Canada’s first and largest medical retail cannabis shops, MMJ Canada. We are no stranger to what is currently available on the legacy market and how it compares to regulated cannabis. There was a point in time where the quality and prices in comparison to the legal market made legal weed a tough sell. That is rapidly changing as more "craft" quality flower comes to market at more traditional price points as well as iconic legacy brands including Ghost Drops which we anticipate will be available in Ontario at the end of October.
I think the attention needs to be directed towards the consumer conversion from the illegal to legal market. (I use the word "illegal vs legal" as a figure of speech to differentiate the cannabis you buy from Ontario authorized dealers versus not, just to be clear.) The government has set up a robust and costly legal framework for authorized retailers and practically taken no notable steps to eradicate unregulated Cannabis distribution.
From a health and safety perspective, we are aware that Health Canada’s regulations for legal cannabis are quite stringent; monitoring and restricting the contained levels of microorganisms and levels of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead as well as limiting pesticide residues to either undetectable or negligible in terms of health risk. – see article from Stratcann: "BC tests illicit cannabis and finds 24 different pesticides in 20 samples." Whether or not people care about pesticides in their cannabis, they should be aware that it is a real possibility in unregulated products and what the health risks are. Perhaps it is up to the government to focus on marketing initiatives aimed at educating the public on purchasing unregulated cannabis similar to illegal cigarette campaigns and calling out harmful ingredients. Pesticides or no pesticides, in terms of quality, what is available on the legal market as of late has definitely proved itself as a serious competitor, and in recent cases, superior on a cost/quality basis.
In addition to the legacy market still thriving, there are definitely disadvantages to having our supplier, the OCS, as a competitor of ours. This seems counterproductive in establishing a flourishing legal marketplace especially if the government cares to eradicate the illegal market- which they claim to.