It’s high times for high end weed: Find out why the industry needs to be looking out for the next generation of executive talent.
In our business of executive recruiting, we know cannabis is growing fast by the number of inquiries we receive from companies looking for top talent in operations, marketing, finance and a range of other business disciplines. And while the whole industry is in an incredibly exciting upward arc, one of the more interesting trends we’re watching is the explosion of cannabis-related items aimed at high-end and luxury consumers.
Fashion design Alexander Wang debuted edgy, pot leaf adorned looks during a runway show — one sign that the long-illicit bud is becoming more mainstream among spendy consumers. Jumping into the burgeoning legal pot market, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart has just launched a line of pre-rolled joints called Mind Your Head. Sporting a branded purple tin, this set of ten mini joints might seem at home in a suburban mom’s pocketbook alongside mints or a cell phone.
Conjure a picture in your head of the typical retail purchase of marijuana. If what comes to mind is not a college dorm festooned with dingy tapestries and dirty bongs, then you might think of a sketchy dispensary in a strip mall on the wrong side of town in a legal pot state. Neither experience is conducive to attracting the type of consumer who values the finer things in life.
We’ve recently looked at the “rebirth of retail” through stores like Apple and Sephora, which mark a transition away from the old model of selling goods in store towards a new educational and experiential playground. As marijuana legalization expands around the country, is it any surprise that cannabis retail is following suit?
Consider MedMen — walk into one of it’s natural wood-lined showrooms which is unsurprisingly being called “the Apple Store of weed.” No furtive glances or incense to be found here — it’s a place you could bring grandma and she’d feel comfortable. You’re likely to feel relaxed even before you select your purchase, thanks to the sleek and minimalist store design where employees are there to educate and empower your purchase decision rather than just sell.
And MedMen is betting big on the cannabis market. The company, which has raised several hundred million dollars, is publicly traded and has holdings in cultivation, manufacturing and retail in Arizona, California, Nevada, New York and Florida. Even though pot is not yet legal in some of those locales, MedMen is establishing a retail presence to be ready when those markets open. And, as we’ve looked at in prior articles, retail reinvention on this scale requires the talents of an army of people.
Perhaps that’s one reason that MedMen recently commissioned this short film by acclaimed director Spike Jonze. This mini-epic is meant to do more than just get folks into the stores — it’s meant to change hearts and minds.
The role of executive talent in high-end cannabis products
For many years, the legal cannabis market has been restricted from innovation by strict laws and regulations, but all over North America, we are seeing that equation change substantially. As laws change, new areas open up rapidly, and we are finding that the market is increasingly hungry for executive talent with specialized expertise in the following:
- Highly regulated industries: our network of executives in tobacco and food and beverage are often courted by the cannabis industry because they know how to make the most of a patchwork of state laws and regulations and are highly attuned to getting product in the hands of the right consumers.
- Marketing: while the marketing of legal cannabis for a long time relied strictly on word-of-mouth, as we see major brands and players enter this market, the branding and marketing tasks are becoming much more sophisticated and targeted. Not to mention — the industry is hot in the mainstream press right now. With everyone from New York magazine to Vogue writing a CBD trend piece, there is no shortage of influential fashion magazines dying to cover buzzworthy products. The cannabis industry is clamoring for creative talent in roles that range from design to publicity to digital and more.
- Operations and logistics: The cannabis industry is growing an incredible rate in the United States, but is really still in its infancy. In order to grow, it will require veteran executives who can parlay significant operational challenges into new market opportunities.
How we serve the cannabis industry
At ACCUR Recruiting Services, we take a broad and holistic view of the kinds of executive skills the cannabis industry will need as it grows and expands. Depending on the staffing challenge, we look to complementary industry verticals such as tobacco, beverage, and even luxury goods to find executives who have the right set of skills to excel in this exciting new industry. Whatever new innovations are brought to bear on this exciting market, we know one thing is for sure: the opportunities for executives who can harness the potential of this product are seemingly endless.