How Berner's Weed Brand, Cookies, Preserves Quality Across State Lines: 'A Lot Of Airplanes And A Lot Of Travel'

As a cannabis entrepreneur, getting complimented by Bruce Linton can surely be something to brag about. If the executive chairman of Gage Cannabis — and former CEO of Canopy Growth Corp CGC — praises your business decisions, it’s likely a sign you're on the right track. 

But if you’re a Billboard-charting rapper like Berner, you might be used to being praised.

In a fireside chat at the 2020 Benzinga Virtual Cannabis Capital Conference, Linton said that Berner opened his eyes to the fact that focusing on genetics and breeding drives market share, because consumers want new and better cannabis products. 

The Cookies, Gage Cannabis Partnership: For Linton, Berner’s brand Cookies stands out in the cannabis landscape for its ability to create a premium brand around flower.

That might explain why in 2019, Gage inked an exclusive agreement to operate multiple Cookies-branded provisioning centers in Michigan.

“What I was seeing with a lot of brands was that the difference was the box, not the product. For how long will people pay a premium for the differentiation of the box, when the product is not better?” Linton said during Benzinga’s panel, which was moderated by Insider’s Jeremy Berke.

“If you don’t differentiate the good, how can you expect people to pay a premium?” Linton said. 

Maintaining Cannabis Quality Across State Lines: Given the federal restrictions on cannabis, interstate commerce for THC-rich products is not allowed in the U.S.

This means that for the California-based Cookies — as with any cannabis brand with an expansion plan — selling cannabis in one state requires production to come from that same state.

This can become a problem when trying to maintain product consistency, especially when the brand drives its differentiation from product quality.

Achieving this consistency meant “a lot of airplanes and a lot of travel,” Cookies CEO Berner said. 

“It’s just making sure that the people on the ground wherever you’re bringing your brand to are focused and dedicated to the same vision as you.”  

Berner On Cannabis Customer Feedback: Paying close attention to what consumers are saying is also key. Cookies takes feedback from customers on social media seriously, the CEO said.

“I’d say about 85% of it is people just kind of ranting, and about 15% is very valuable, but you have to read all of it to find that 15%.”

Lastly, being able to have straight and open discussions with operators is the piece that completes the puzzle, Berner said. 

“At the end of the day it’s all about communication. I think that’s the biggest key to going nationwide.” 

Original publication: October 16, 2020

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