You’ve got to walk before you run and 2014 showed the marijuana industry why. The new recreational marijuana industry in Washington and Colorado got off to a strong start, but its first year unveiled a lot of lessons to learn.
Here are five ways marijuana entrepreneurs can create a brighter 2015 for their businesses and the industry at large.
2014 Marijuana Mistakes – #1 Branding
Now that the first products have been sold and a steady supply chain has begun to develop, it’s time that businesses take the next step in making their products more professional. Between the vacuum-sealed plastic bags and the paper sticker labels, many opportunities exist for new businesses to show off their wares.
As the states approve more production and processor licenses, the competition will only increase. Savvy marijuana businesses need to stand out as more options are available for consumers. New businesses have sprung up simply to assist in the packaging of cannabis products.
Solving the branding problem does not end with the supply lines, the retail stores need to also spend the next year shaping their consumer experiences into notable spaces. This will also help continue the legitimization of legalization.
2014 Marijuana Mistakes – #2 Need More Weed
Especially in Washington, where licenses have trickled out, the supply for marijuana has remained fairly low.
Over the past seven months, retail stores have taken to measures such as raising flags to let customers know when products are available.
This lack of product harms the industry in several ways. Scarcity increases prices and also puts a great deal of power in the hands of the producers. It also pushes curious connoisseurs back into the heavily established black market.
Much of this is in the hands of the state. The roll out of licenses has been painfully slow. With an increased emphasis on reviewing existing license applications, Washington could make great strides to solve the current ongoing issue.
2014 Marijuana Mistakes – #3 Quality Control
When marijuana-infused soda bottles began exploding on store shelves last October, they not only gave a good deal of clean up work for the retail employees, they gave a good lesson to learn for the future.
Quality control is important for any business, but the new products that arrive on the forefront of marijuana legalization have an extra challenge. They must prove qualitative enough to lure longtime users away from the black market, while also inviting enough to attract new consumers.
Though these poor exploding bottles are but one item, consumers will remember such an exhibition of new pot products. Future marijuana goods must keep rising their standards and prevent negative public perception.
2014 Marijuana Mistakes – #4 Taxation
The last mistake made in the 2014 recreational marijuana industry did not directly come from the entrepreneurs that built it. In Washington particularly, states set the initial tax rates on marijuana too high.
This isn’t just the opinion of the many consumers upset at higher prices than the black market. The Tax Foundation put together a comprehensive packet on lessons to learn from the states’ experience and clearly said, “The tax rates are too high, relative to both medical marijuana taxes and the black market.”
2014 Marijuana Mistakes – #5 Image of the Industry
You can sum up many of these lessons by saying that the industry needs to continue shaping the image of how the world should see legal marijuana.
Not only does the public perception need continuing refinement, but also the industry must not isolate the many varied sections of consumers.
A recent advertiser faux pas provided an excellent lesson to carry forward into the New Year. Namely, legalization happened with approval from many different sectors of society. Therefore, the industry should honor that rather than maligning the very voters that brought businesses into existence.
Of course, there are many, many other lessons big and small to glean from this first year of industry activity. These are just a few that stood out among the throng. As these businesses continue to expand and change, new complications will arise, but refinement should always remain the goal.