Business

Five takeaways from Hall of Flowers

By Alex Halperin
Dec 10, 2021
Hall of Flowers, September 2019, Santa Rosa, CA

Beloved for its pro-consumption ambiance and very cheap product samples, the Hall of Flowers conference rocked up in Palm Springs this week. More than most trade shows, it’s a forum for brands to try and impress buyers in the ultra-competitive California market. With hundreds of companies strutting their stuff, it’s not easy to generalize. But here are a few initial thoughts on where the market is going: 

  • Innovative business plans

As larger players begin to consolidate the market, smaller companies are adapting unique business strategies to carve out sustainable niches. To support his Dogma brand, founder Geoff Doran applied for a distributor license so he could get samples on shelves without the big minimum orders larger distributors require from retailers. It also creates the opportunity for him to distribute for other brands.

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  • Potency

Weed snobs never get tired of saying cannabis quality isn’t about THC levels, but someone forgot to tell the brands. To give just one example, beverage brand Tonik (part of The Cure Company) sells 10 mg drinks, but Matt Watt who heads the sales in northern California said, “A lot of people aren’t interested when you get 100 for almost the same price.” The company sells 100 mg beverage shots for about $12 and 1,000 mg tinctures in the $40-$45 range. 

  • Merch

Quite a few companies have expanded into the fashion business. Brands like Pinkies, Good Good and Traditional all displayed duds harkening back to skateboarding, graffiti and other totems of street culture. Rocky Perry, Traditional’s director of retail, described the company’s look as “loud and Supreme-esque,” a reference to the ubiquitous streetwear label. The idea seems to be for brands to thread the needle of becoming part of a lifestyle without limiting themselves to that lifestyle. 

  • Sex is back

Whether due to #metoo or just good taste, I’m old enough to remember when brands had more reservations about drawing attention to themselves with bodacious babes. Not anymore. Boob-tenders are back. Perhaps not coincidentally, the overall vibe was very dude-heavy.

  • Race to value

“Flower’s now more expensive to grow than it is to sell,” Tonik’s Matt Watt said. Amid California’s oversupply, brands like Traditional, Lolo (“What your budtender smokes“) and many others say they’re targeting customers who appreciate quality but don’t want to spend a fortune on it.