'Enormous Potential': Common Citizen CEO Michael Elias Discusses Michigan's Recreational Cannabis Market
For cannabis investors, entrepreneurs and consumers in Michigan, the first rollout of recreational licenses is only a few weeks away.
To gear up for the new market, companies like Common Citizen are preparing for an entirely new landscape of customers and products.
Following Common Citizen’s presentation at the Detroit leg of the Cannabis Capital Conference, the Benzinga team sat down with CEO Michael Elias to discuss the company's next steps.
BZ: Common Citizen is dedicated to a “people-first” mentality. How do you gauge feedback and determine how to make the best and most relevant business decisions?
ME: Our customers are our top priority, and we gauge feedback by engaging customers in every step of the process. Customer feedback is constant because we continuously pull quantitative and qualitative customer data from our systems so we can understand their purchasing decisions and how they engage with our products.
Using "Lean" practices, we’re able to evaluate in real-time what processes work and don’t work and readjust accordingly so we can continuously improve the customer experience.
Part of our culture is to do team huddles every morning so we can use data to incorporate any changes needed to enhance our customer experience that day.
Additionally, we collect qualitative data through customer follow-up calls to ask them about their experience at Common Citizen and track online reviews, which are overwhelmingly positive.
BZ: What do you expect of the competition come the new regulations rolling out Nov. 1?
ME: As we approach Nov. 1, I anticipate many operators will shift toward the recreational market. We will begin to see more marketing and amplification from operators and many will be driving to be "first" in the market.
With that said, moving too quickly in a new market could adversely impact quality and safety. At Common Citizen, customer safety is our No. 1 focus, and we are committed to offering high-quality, safe products to our customers. We are in this for the long haul and we won’t do anything that compromises the quality and safety of our products.
BZ: What would you say are the most prevalent doubts and reasons for skepticism that surround a new market like Michigan?
ME: The emerging marijuana industry has enormous potential to improve lives, give patients much-needed relief, create jobs, boost Michigan’s economy and spark innovation. From a customer perspective, people want to know the cannabis they purchase is safe for consumption.
Following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) is essential to making sure manufacturers produce products that are safe. Common Citizen follows GMP throughout every step of its manufacturing process to ensure products are safe.
We also educate our customers about what goes in our products to empower them to make the best decisions for themselves and their families and loved ones.
We often hear from communities that they want to know how operators will make their communities better. Common Citizen is committed to investing in communities through creating jobs and giving back to causes that are important to communities where we have Common Citizen stores.
From the industry perspective, it will be essential for licensed operators to follow GMP to ensure products are safe. We also need elected leaders to crack down on black market operators who are selling untested, dangerous products and passing them off as medicine. We need stronger enforcement on the black market because it could hamper the success of licensed operators who provide safe, tested products.
BZ: How will Common Citizen continue to stand out?
ME: We continue to make a positive impact by offering safe, high-quality products that give patients relief. The No. 1 reason we started Common Citizen is we wanted to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
Providing safe products and investing in communities where Common Citizen stores exist is important to us. At Common Citizen, we are driving a lifestyle brand that puts people first, and it’s our goal to make every customer feel like they can see themselves in our brand.
BZ: The company’s website and entire digital experience are incredibly immersive. Where did you get the ideas for the design, as well as the cafe and “chill” idea?
ME: Working with our co-founders and branding and marketing team, we developed a brand that is a true reflection of founders and our core values. We created the cafe and “chill” concept to encourage people to slow down and take their time while they’re in one of our stores.
We want our customers to feel welcomed and relaxed and give them the opportunity to connect with our Common Citizen advisors and other customers over a cup of coffee.
Want to hear from similar companies transforming the space? Click here for more information about the upcoming Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference Oct. 22-23 in Chicago. Be sure to use coupon code DOTCOM for 20% off!
Michael Elias speaks at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference Aug. 15 in Detroit. Photo by Dustin Blitchok.
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