Jack Bullock and Luke Anderson are launching their Lemon Lavender Cann Social Tonic and other cannabis-infused beverages in New York State soon. Getting a foothold quickly in states where cannabis beverages are legal is critical, said Block, who worked in consulting and earned an MBA before joining the legal marijuana industry. As an early mover in the cannabis beverage market, he said, his company can build its brand and foster customer loyalty before stiff competition sets in, and it has easier access to retail shelves before the market becomes crowded.
Bullock and Anderson launched their first canned cannabis cocktail in California in 2019 and has since expanded to four states and Canada.Rapid entry into new markets also helps avoid imitators launching products with similar packaging and flavors to similar products Kang Social Tonic Bullock says.
The duo created their low-dose cannabis drink to provide a “gentle buzz” and give people a way to join drinkers. “People worry about getting too high and getting anxious,” says Bullock, but with just 2 mg of THC per can, consumers are getting 20 percent of the legal “dose.” That means they can drink a few cans.
“We can’t drink like we did in our twenties,” says Bullock, “and our hangovers are worse. We wanted to create a delicious adult drink that would deliver a euphoria without the alcohol.”
Cannabis cannot legally cross state or national borders, so to supply retail stores in Nevada, Illinois, Massachusetts, Arizona, Minnesota and Canada, the company ships its flavored syrups to canning facilities, which supply infused beverages of marijuana. From there, local distributors deliver the drinks to the shelves.
The brand has 600 retail stores nationwide.
The cannabis industry presents particular challenges for multinational operators. “Each state is kind of like its own country, with its own packaging laws and distributors,” Bullock said. Packages and labels had to be created and produced according to each state’s regulations, so “we couldn’t achieve economies of scale because we had so few orders,” Bullock said, and it took extra time to make sure each was fully compliant with local regulations. Each state will require new distribution partnerships.
Restrictive advertising rules for marijuana also vary by state. “We’re doing local events and promotions based on what’s allowed in each state,” Bullock said. In Venice Beach, California, for example, the company created a brightly decorated pop-up space that offered samples of the THC-free drink and told customers they could buy an infused version nearby. Targeting a wider audience, the company produced a music video for “Taste So Good (The Cann Song).”
The company is still looking to expand geographically despite the extra costs of entering new states rather than developing in existing markets. “There’s a lot of ‘weed addiction’ out there right now,” Bullock said, “and we want to get as many shelves as possible and introduce the product to as many people as possible.”