Claudio Miranda 0:00
But we are definitely can be credited as being one of those early trailblazers and innovators. And as a result of that we had that adoption that that that mass adoption amongst those early adopters and innovators that just are fanatical about our brand. And that’s what kicked us off. Now in that process, you know, me as a brand marketer and other members of my team saw that, hey, this is what’s happening. Well, let’s now let’s now harness that and manage it. And, you know, because just doing that is one thing. There were other brands at the time, that also were creating great innovative products like we were, the difference is, is that they didn’t maybe have the sales or marketing expertise to get them statewide and to get them into the hands of dispensary’s and buyers and and go through the marketing and sales process. Innovation alone doesn’t do it. You now have to harness that through a sales and marketing engine that gets it out into the marketplace.
You’re listening to two B one B podcasts for cannabis marketers. Were your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here’s your host Shayda Torabi.
Shayda Torabi 1:29
Hello, friends. How are you doing right now? Welcome back to the show. I hope you’re in the mood to learn something badass because today’s guest is certainly one of the most qualified from a professional marketing standpoint. I don’t know about you, but I majored in marketing and communications. And while I can agree you don’t need a formal background to always be skilled in marketing. I do think there are some foundational principles that can be a differentiating factor if you know how to apply them correctly. That’s where Claudia comes in. His background is in the natural products industry, mastering brand marketing consultation, and advising startups when he went on to lead the development of guild enterprises, which is a brand management company that oversees the guild family of brands. And now they’re one of the premier legacy brands coming out of California. And we can learn a lot about crafting a cannabis brand from Claudio. So let’s welcome him to the show.
Claudio Miranda 2:24
My name is Claudio Miranda, and I am the co founder and CEO of guild enterprises, which I’m also the CEO of guild extracts. And so we’re legacy California consumer product brand. Primarily, we’re most known for kind of guild extracts, which is you know, our concentrates brand, which I’m happy to kind of talk about throughout the show. But I’ve been in cannabis for quite a long time. I started kind of my voyage in cannabis in the late 80s, actually. So back in the kind of late 80s, I was kind of born and raised in Hollywood and in the LA area, and kind of spent some time also in Orange County. And I just got, you know, quickly as a teenager, about time I was 1213 years old, I was kind of starting to consume cannabis. And throughout my teens, it was something that I was kind of actively involved in as far as the trade. And toward the late 80s. I got involved on the advocacy side, you know, back then we were, you know, pretty actively advocating for legalization in California. I remember going to the city hall in Los Angeles and being part of, you know, advocacy groups and movements of trying to legalize cannabis. And so I was pretty involved on the advocacy side just as a teenager. And just kind of fast forwarding, you know, a few years later kind of gotten a went to college moved up to you to the Bay Area to go to UC Berkeley, and kind of paid my way through college by cultivating. And so you know, very involved in cannabis at an early age. So that was about a decade that I just kind of went through for my teens all the way through college that I was very actively involved in cannabis and from from advocacy all the way to production. I got first in the kind of finance and into being a broker in terms of like stockbroker and later moved on into the internet economy. And really got into tech primarily like soft tech, as I call it like e commerce and got into the natural products industry, selling kind of natural products, so primarily direct to consumer by the Internet, and did a few entrepreneurial stints there as far as doing a few startups in the internet space. And so really, for about the subsequent 15 years, I was completely out of cannabis. And it wasn’t until about 2013 14 that I started to look back at the industry. As I saw that the regulation side of it was starting to get a little more legitimize. throughout that time. I’ve always been really steeped in the culture and in the environment. A lot of my friends have been in cannabis for you know, two, three or more decades. And so I’ve always kind of been around it Throughout all that period of time, but after college, I kind of had an arm’s length kind of distance from it just because I didn’t want to get involved in, in what time was the kind of the criminality side of it. Unfortunately, I just felt that that wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. But as I started to see in, you know, 2014 13, that things were starting to get more and more legitimized. And with prop 215. And looking at state regulation. In California, I dove back in and mainly on the dispensary side is where I jumped in, and I start consulting with a few dispensaries in California. And then fast forward to 2015 is when I co founded along with a few other business partners, the guild family of brands and your guild enterprises. And that included the guild dispensary, and guild extracts and killed cannabis, the flower brand, and at the time, we also started a farm girl nursery. So it was a family of cannabis properties or entities. And and that has kind of morphed quite a bit over its five year history. It’s gone through a lot of twists and turns based on changes in the regulatory environment. And other factors that I’m happy to kind of dive into. But but that’s the, that’s the story there. And that kind of brings us to today where I’m still actively involved in managing some of those guild properties.
Shayda Torabi 6:18
What a crazy wild story. I mean, you really have been in the industry, it sounds like for a long time, in my opinion, coming from Texas, I’ve seen the markets created and evolve. So from Colorado to California, I was just interviewing somebody from Oregon. And you can kind of see where there’s obviously some similarities. I think California, especially given your background, I’m sure you can relate to this, too. I see California’s cannabis market as more tech driven and more brand driven. And so it’s been really fascinating to watch that market grow as somebody who I too have a tech background, I come from corporate, ecommerce and hosting and platform myself. So that’s a sweet spot for me, and especially getting into cannabis. I took that experience, I think and was trying to apply it directly to cannabis. And I’m sure you can relate and understand the cannabis industry, even though it is becoming more normalized. And legalize still has so many pain points when it comes to the actual technology. So that’s always been something that I’ve been eagerly fighting for and fighting towards. But to dig into your story, I want to touch on something that when I was doing research before the interview, of course, just to kind of get familiar with guild enterprises and the way that you express your brand as an artisanal brand was so new to me. I mean, I’m familiar with kind of the whole craft brewery craft cannabis kind of conversation. But I think the art side of it and packaging it into a brand is maybe something that I don’t see or didn’t see a lot of people doing and the way that you’re expressing the way that you’re marketing it is this artisinal brand. Is that something that you and your team created? Is that a, you know, you’re talking about a legacy brands? Like? Are those things that you saw, hey, we’re legacy brand, because we’ve been doing it for this long? And we really craft connoisseurs of these products that we’re creating? Or was that more of a marketing? framing? If that makes sense?
Claudio Miranda 8:26
No, that makes perfect sense. Yeah, it’s a great question. I would say, first and foremost, it’s very authentic, the members of the guild that are kind of the founding members, we’re all from cannabis. We’re all we’ve been steeped in cannabis, some of us longer than others. But I would say at a minimum, you know, we’re talking a decade or more. So everyone involved has been in the industry for a long time, we definitely have a deep respect for the plant and for its tradition, and we all kind of are part of the culture. There’s no kind of marketing facade in that regard, where we’re just kind of an outsider that came in with some marketing prowess and decided to kind of spin up some brands. That being said, My involvement specifically with the Guild, in addition to being the CEO, is I’m a brand marketer. And I think one of the key things that I brought to the equation was my expertise in branding and marketing. And I’ve been studying brand marketing for, you know, 20 years, I’ve taught it on the MBA level in the UC system here in California. I’ve taught a lot of incubators, where I mentor students on kind of the brand marketing side of a business. So really, that’s one of the key values that I brought to the organization. So when you know when, when working with our team, that very much everything about us was about high touch, handcrafted, artisanal, very traditional. Like that was the ethos of each of us individually and kind of what we’ve been doing in the industry. Most of my partners were a little bit more plant touching than I was, as I mentioned at the beginning here, I came out of a kind of a 15 year stint in traditional business in tech and e commerce in natural products. So I had kind of stepped away from the plant touching side of it for 15 years. But prior to that I was very, very close to the plant. So anyway, a lot of my partner’s brought a little bit more of that artisanal kind of product side, where I brought more of the form of business and kind of brand marketing part of the equation to the business. And so in so doing, I was very sensitive to how can we embody this, this tradition that we have amongst our group of these kind of legacy cannabis enthusiasts and kind of sewers? And how can we embody that in a brand that really spoke to each of us and our contributions and our own individual legacy and rolling that all up into a brand that really expressed our vision. And so, you know, I took a lot of time and kind of deliberating with my team over what that brand might look like. And I took kind of the lead role in that brand development process. But it was certainly something that was collaborative, that I worked closely with my team and getting all those inputs. You know, one brand family that I looked to for inspiration was actually LVMH, which is kind of the French company of Louis Vuitton moet Hennessy, that owns a family of luxury designer brands and spirits and wine brands. It’s a pretty amazing privately owned kind of company. And I think some of the some of the leading global luxury and high end artists and brands come out of that brand family. And so we I took that as some of the inspiration in the brand development process. And so in that regard, the brand marketing side was very deliberate, it was contrived in the sense that we took a very methodical approach to developing the brand family. But underlying that was definitely a very authentic, you know, legacy tradition and honoring the tradition of cannabis.
Shayda Torabi 11:58
I love that because I relate to what you just said, especially, I mean, I am not a professor, I have not been doing branding nearly as long as you, I think the way that you worded it to, obviously, Louis Vuitton people are very familiar with that as a brand, but to realize that it derives from a brand family, maybe there’s other, you know, businesses or brands under that portfolio. Sometimes it’s almost like a subtle T, that you don’t necessarily want them all to be related. But they’re all of course, you know, related, a representative ledger, this one family brand. And it’s something that I think people are starting businesses, they don’t think of the brand first. And I think that that’s a really big piece that a lot of people are missing that I’ve observed. When you look at the saturation of cannabis right now. Obviously, there’s a lot of people excited to grow a lot of people excited to get in the industry, a lot of people are excited to create brands. But having you and knowing that’s your background, I be curious what your you know, recipe is for success when it comes to building a brand. What do you think is really important for people in the industry right now to be thinking of knowing that obviously, not everybody has the same desire to create the same brand as you obviously, brands vary, you know, I was just I’m interviewing somebody who has a very feminine cannabis brand. I represent a family brand. You know, there’s definitely different aspects or different tones to it. But if there was a way to sum it up for someone, when you’re looking for the foundation to set a brand up for success, what do you look for? What do you
Claudio Miranda 13:34
focus on? Yeah, well, I think that’s a great question. If I may, before I answer that, you know, one thing to kind of frame it is, I think a lot of this, people need to think about the industry, any industry, when you’re hatching a brand, you want to be thinking about where that industry is, and it’s kind of life cycle in terms of Is it a mature industry? Is it a nascent industry? Because looking at cannabis, specifically in its history, you know, it’s just very recently that there was the advent of branding within the industry, right? It is a very recent phenomenon, right prior to that, it was really kind of like a bulk commodity, for lack of a better word, right. And if you look at really the beginning of branding, like in America, for example, like back in the day, you would go into like a local general store, and you would buy rice in bulk, and you’d buy all your commodities in bulk. And it was only you know, later as we went through and then progressed through the 1900s, that you started to actually put branding and labeling to differentiate this rice from that rice or these beans from those beans or this corn from that corn. Right. And so in some ways, cannabis and I think this is a function of the fact that it’s been illegal in in America is that it’s been you know, there’s no need to have branding, because everything is just Hey, I mean, the branding has been ziplock right, you put it in a baggie, and you really just buying the flour, right? And that’s been primarily the market. It’s just buying flour, right? And it’s only within kind of the recent decade and even less people on the market, that as becomes legalized and you start to get a regular kind of retail environment, and you start to get the diversity of products moving away from flowers and into topicals, and edibles and vaporizers and everything else, that now you have that product diversity. And now you now marketing becomes a problem, because upon that you need to focus on because now you want to differentiate this vape pen from that vape pen, and this jar flowers from that jar flowers. But when I first got back into cannabis, on the dispensary side, there was really not a lot of branding, even back in 2014, for example, you know, most dispensaries would buy bulk flour, and put it on this shelf, and either it’d be non branded, or they would brand it under the dispensary name. But you wouldn’t see a ton of branding even then. And so anyway, that’s just kind of one point is when to now to answer your question specifically within by framing it that way, a lot of it’s a function of timing, you know. And so right now, as it’s going through, you know, what’s been known as kind of the product adoption curve or the diffusion of innovation curve as this market matures, you start to see segmentation and the need for branding becomes more prominent. And so now we’re seeing, especially with here in California with the onset of the recreational market, you’re seeing a much greater diversity of customers, you know, rewind five years ago, and it would be predominantly young males that would go in into a dispensary. I mean, it was very concentrated demographically. And as it becomes legalized, you find a much greater diversity in the demographic and psychographic segments that come into a dispensary. And so now you can go into any dispensary, you’re going to find a plethora of different, you know, consumer groups, so to speak. And so you got to market to each of those groups. So then to specifically answer that question, you know, you got to start always the marketing process of asking Who is your customer, right, it all starts with your customer, you know, you don’t just start a brand for the sake or a business for the sake of I’m just gonna create products, willy nilly, or for whoever, right, that’s a way to have a failed business model, a successful business model is one, that you’re making something very specific for a very specific audience. And it starts with who that customer is. And that should be really the North Star of the business in terms of everything your business moves toward, is serving the needs of that customer. So you start with defining the customer, their demographic profile, their psychographic profile, their needs, their interests, their aspirations, their hobbies, whatever it may be their political views or sexual orientation, want to know everything you possibly can. And then you start the brand development process, the methodology is such that you start to build the brand, in a way that’s now speaking to that audience segment. And now with the maturation of the market, because you’re seeing this range of, you know, consumer segments, you really got to start picking your segment if I am I going after the soccer mom, if I am I going after this senior citizen? Am I going after the millennial or going to Gen Z Gen X Gen Y? Is it predominantly male is it female is ethnicity specific. And we’re starting to see that, you know, taking its course in real time on the dispensary shelves, with every passing month, we’re seeing more segmentation more specific brands that are specifically going after unique use cases and customer segments that are increasingly niche. And going back to my initial comment, that’s all a function of the maturing market, the more the market matures, the more you get those splinters of customer segments and micro segments, and the more you start to see brands hatching that are catering to niche segments. And so that’s kind of a glance with the methodology is the way I view it, but there’s a lot of specifics there in that I’m happy to to, to dive into further if you’d like.
No, that was great. I think where my brain is going let’s see if it comes out articulated enough for you to be able to answer it in an appropriate way. So I understand you’re currently the CEO of guild extracts. So it is an extract company but obviously in the portfolio, which also should clarify is a product you have a product company but in your portfolio there was a dispensary it sound like there was a flower brand. Yes. I’m familiar because I also own a dispensary and I also own products. We choose to be direct to consumer, right and so as a brand who has a physical retail location, I know the benefit of getting consumer feedback in real time. And so if there’s something that is wrong, something that’s great, I’m able to kind of pivot that that brand or pivot my my brand or my product essentially, based on what I’m seeing in real time. You find that because you had the dispensary that helped with your other brands. Or also maybe another way to answer ask the question would be like as a product, you know as good extracts Do you find owning a discussion cerie to be more helpful, or does it really not matter and growing a brand? If you’re just a product? Like how much harder is it if you don’t have a physical retail that you can control and incorporate some of that real time marketing? activities?
Sure, no, I think that’s a really great question. And the short answer is that it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s helped, and it’s hurt the brand side of it. And so I’m happy to talk about how it’s done. Each of those. Probably the way it’s heard it is when we launched the guild dispensary in San Jose, that kind of went well in its opening kind of months and years. But what we quickly started to find is in San Jose, there’s only 16 licensed dispensaries. So it’s a million plus consumer markets a very big market, I think the third largest in California, you only have 16 dispensaries, which is pretty amazing, because like nearby towns like Santa Cruz, I think have two to three times the number of licenses and a small fraction of the population. So it was a great opportunity to kind of open up a store in that jurisdiction, and everything kind of was seemingly going well. But what we quickly found is the other 15 dispensary’s, we were selling guild extracts to those dispensaries, and it was a great selling product, everything was going well, but we started to find is, you know, one by one, the store stopped carrying the brand. And we started doing it now I knew a lot of the other founders of the other dispensaries a very kind of tight knit cannabis group there. And so I called up some of the other owners and be like, hey, why why are you Why are you not selling my brand? And finally, they just were candidly telling me they’re like, well, we’re, we’re potentially losing our customers to your dispensary. And what they found, it was kind of an interesting thing, because what we found with the guild dispensary is a lot of the bud tenders from the other dispensaries were coming and shopping at the guild store. A lot of the retail managers in gms, it was kind of like you know that in the restaurant industry, like we’re all the bartenders go to their favorite bar, or the industry people go to their favorite restaurants and bars, that kind of started to become the phenomenon, that and we got to become very well known. And that was in part driven by the popularity of the guild extracts brand that guild extracts was really popular. We were gaining not only kind of local attention and statewide, but really nationally and globally on at this point that the brand is known globally. And people were flying in from other countries and and making the store a destination. You’d see people coming in that day, I just flew into SFO and I’m from Amsterdam, where I’m from this country, that country and they’re visiting the store. So anyway, what we found is the store became very popular, it became a destination. And not only the customers from the other dispensary’s started to come to our store, but even the staff of the of the dispensaries in San Jose. So the other owners like that didn’t rub them well. And they’re like, Look, I’m like you’re effectively poaching my customers. And that wasn’t deliberate. It was just the fact that people would get turned on to the go that strikes brand, they would look into it, see that there’s a dispensary nearby, and then that would naturally kind of happen. I don’t know to what extent it happened. But I think it was an unfounded that belief. So anyway, long story short, is we started to find that we were getting blacklisted in the other stores, the product brand was getting blacklisted in the other San Jose stores because of the perceived conflict with the dispensary. And that caused some problems, right guild extracts, they’re like, Look, the fact that the store bears the same name. And here’s the thing about the way that the guild organization is structured is that you have a family of brands. And really guild enterprises is a brand family that for all intents and purposes licenses the brand to various entities. So gildan extracts is a licensee of the gold extracts brand guild San Jose is a licensee of the guild brand. And so but but volunteers and purposes, there were different operating companies and organizations. But you know, cookies, as an example, is a similar organization that has a similar structure, in the sense that you can go from one cookie store in LA to one, let’s say, Northern California, and they’re different owners, but they bear the same brand name. And so you know, it’s almost like a franchise. So basically what happened was, you know, because you have different owners in the store versus the extracts, guild extracts, there started to be some conflicts there. And so anyway, that’s was one of the negative outcomes of it. But going back to some of the kind of your leading question there was, absolutely being on the front lines of retail and seeing the other brands and being able to be direct to the consumer there and get all that data in real time for how consumers were responding to our products. Like that’s invaluable. No one would deny that being able to have direct access to the consumer experience and to that engagement, and be able to use it as a source of data, as you kind of alluded to in your own businesses is invaluable, and a lot of benefits came out out of that our ability to market directly and engage directly with them. gilde customer was amazing. And in fact, you know, build that trust was built from that experience, you know, we kind of built our brand, through direct to consumer via all the events that we used to have in pre prop 64. When you know, even though you still have, you know, High Times Cannabis Cup, and this and that back then there, those events were very frequent right there almost monthly, that you would have chalice and Emerald cup, and all the different events, not to mention, you had a lot of underground events at the time, all the secret cups and everything and guild extract was very actively involved. And we built our brand and our recognition and our consumers and our fan base through that direct consumer engagement. So in other words, it wasn’t just at the retail level. But the retail level certainly created a more structured environment for that engagement.
Shayda Torabi 25:47
You kind of answered the next follow up question I had, which was really how did you grow gilt extracts to being such a globally recognized brand? Obviously, there’s more to unpack than what you just said. But I, I’m curious on that point, were you organically just a part of these communities where it made sense to be going to these events or was with someone on your team? Or maybe it was yourself saying, Hey, we need to be at these events, this is where our customers are, this is going to benefit us? This is going to help us grow our brand? Or were you just, hey, we like hanging out with these people. And it’s a great place for us to put our product and like Why not? Let’s see, like I’m trying to shine. Was it intentional? Or was it more just like this is our community? So we’re supporting it? We don’t know what it’s going to, you know, help us with?
Unknown Speaker 26:30
Sure. It was in part intentional, but I would say the primary driver, and this really, I think speaks to some of the questions here regarding brand marketing. It was innovation. What happened was is that gild extracts was an early innovator and an early Trailblazer in the development of concentrates concentrates as a category. We certainly weren’t the first never claimed that. But we were amongst, I think the first group of people that were really popularizing it commercially. And not only that, and that was with run of the mill extracts things like shatter and batter and products like that. But not only that, but we innovated meaning we were first to bring to market certain products like THC isolates, like our THC, crystaline, and in our THC a powder, things like delta A. Now again, we weren’t the only one creating these products. But we were the first to market to really popularize these products, and guild that stretch our reputation. And our brand became somewhat synonymous with the concept of these products of THC, a crystal utca powder. And the reason why that was important, historically, is number one, at the time, everything and it’s still true today, but not as true. That potency was like the primary driver of purchasing behavior, right, especially back in the day, someone would go into a dispensary. And it’s like if they were into edibles, they wanted that thousand milligram carova bar or something, right, it was just about like, give me your most potent flour, your most potent concentrate your most potent cartridge. And I would say probably the majority of consumers to this day, drive their person, their purchasing decision primarily by potency. Now we’re seeing the opposite effect happening today with micro dosing and everything. But I still think micro dosing is a minority of the purchasing behavior, whereas potency is the majority. So at the time, though it was the vast majority of people were driving for potency, and whatever product that we’re selecting, when we innovated TNC crystaline, it was the most potent hash essentially ever made by man, it’s 99.99% pure, you effectively can’t create a more potent hash, it’s physically impossible, because that would create 100%. And at that point, you’re you’re creating matter. And so we effectively you know, like to say we won the race to the top in terms of we can go down in history as creating the most potent cannabis product ever known to man as far as on a kind of on a per gram basis, in terms of the potency of a concentrate or flower as an example. And for kind of sewers at the time, when you think about kind of a lot of those early adopters. And you know, an earlier in the conversation, I dropped the concept of diffusion of innovation. And for some of the listeners that want to kind of look into that concept. There’s a lot of books on it, that talks about this concept, which is how are trends created in the marketplace? How does product adoption occur in the marketplace that when a group innovates something, whether it’s a new musical trend or a new trend in sneakers, or whatever it may be? How does that phenomenon work in society. And the way it works is you know, you get this early sub segment of innovators and early adopters that rally around this early innovation in a product category. These guys are the geeks, the people that will stand in line and form a line around the corner to have first access to some new market innovating product and the products we have stuck killed extracts word those types of products now was that by design that we said we’re going to take over the cannabis industry in the concentrates market by innovating these products, and no, it wasn’t that deliberate, it was a little bit more serendipitous in the sense that, hey, we just wanted to create the best kind of concentrates on the market. Through that r&d and innovation, things like THC and crystal and isolates, as well as our other family products came out of that r&d innovation process. It just happened to be that it’s just Hey, this happens to be the strongest hash she’s known demand. And and just by virtue of that, we got this massive early adopter base that was very adamant and enthusiastic about the idea of I want to consume the most potent highest quality product that’s available in the market. And that at the time happened to be gold extracts amongst other brands. And so we gain that early recognition and popularity, because of the fact that we innovated and we kicked off this diffusion of innovation curve that I’m referring to by essentially innovating a new product, and sparking that segment of the cannabis industries trend cycle. And again, there’s a lot of brands that did that in their respective categories. And we certainly aren’t the only one in the concentrates category. But we are definitely can be credited as being one of those early trailblazers and innovators. And as a result of that we had that adoption, that that that mass adoption amongst those early adopters and innovators that just are fanatical about our brand. And that’s what kicked us off. Now, in that process. You know, me as a brand marketer, and other members of my team saw that, hey, this is what’s happening. Well, let’s now let’s now harness that and manage it. And no, because just doing that is one thing, there were other brands at the time, that also were creating great innovative products like we were, the difference is, is that they didn’t maybe have the sales or marketing expertise to get them statewide. And to get them into the hands of dispensary’s and buyers and and go through the marketing and sales process. Innovation alone doesn’t do it, you now have to harness that through a sales and marketing engine that gets it out into the marketplace, then that’s where the more contrived part of it is, where we’re harnessing that phenomenon, and bringing it to consumers and using a business methodology.
Shayda Torabi 32:17
You’re in such a sweet spot. I mean, just hearing what you said. And obviously, reflecting on, this is all happened in a span of like five or six years. So it’s a new market, but it’s also happening very rapidly. And I love that you kind of shared obviously, a lot of the impetus for the brand is kind of on this craft side so that it makes sense that you’re early adopters, were these fanatic cannabis consumers who are looking for potency, they’re looking for something new, interesting. I mean, I personally don’t consume a lot of concentrated products. But that’s because I live in a state where it’s not accessible for me to have access to those products. So I think you you also have that layer of even though it’s legal in California, like you were saying earlier, you know, who was originally a cannabis consumer is no longer the only profile of the customer. And so I think as you have that diversity happening, I think as you have the legalization, the laws shifting, you have those craft consumers who care about you know, the technology, the innovation, the way that it’s extracted the potency, but then you also have regular consumers who are like I I’m just looking for good quality products. So kind of find yourself in this interesting position where you’re kind of learning really quickly what’s working, what’s not working and unable to iterate from that. The follow up that I have is knowing that it’s only been five or six years, you know, what does innovation look like now that you found yourself at the top I mean, again to kind of call out certain things I’ve been professionally in cannabis now working going on three years I’ve been a cannabis consumer for the past 15 I’ve traveled to legal state so I’ve purchased a lot of these you know, varying types of products. But you start getting into I mean, you said Delta eight Delta it’s huge in the non legal adult use and medicinal markets like Texas, we sell a lot of delta eight but it’s such a new cannabinoid that again you have this interesting market where I have a lot of customers who most of them really do not consume cannabis. I mean you definitely have some overlap of people who are like oh weed isn’t legal in Texas so what can i get i can smoke hemp and there’s you know, shatter and concentrates and oils and all these kind of similar dispensary products. But you do have a lot from a CBD perspective from a hemp perspective. They’re just they they’ve never touched cannabis or they had it in the past and they don’t really you know, want to be psychoactive but now they’re hearing Well, what is CBG? What is CBN? What is delta eight? How did these other cannabinoids work? And so I’m finding now the industry at least from the CBD hemp side We’re getting into those other minor boutique cannabinoids, but I am seeing it parallel a little bit to the THC side. But you’re one of the first brands that I’ve really seen on the THC side call out delta eight. So I’m curious how is that what’s driving it as the market opening up to these other cannabinoids, and you’re figuring out other ways to extract from the plant? Or are there other ways that you’re innovating based on maybe like you suggested? It’s marketing and sales? Sure, sure.
Claudio Miranda 35:29
Well, first and foremost, I think innovation, it’s something you can innovate in branding and marketing, you can innovate in product development and r&d, and just product driven innovation, you can innovate in really any aspect of your business, you know, just just use a quick kind of tangent of an example is, think about a kind of company like Zappos, for example, right? When, when Tony Shea started Zappos, it’s like, oh, I’m going to start an e commerce shoe store. Like, at a time when there was thousands of e commerce stores selling shoes, like there was nothing innovative about starting an e commerce shoe store, yet he created the world’s largest and eventually got bought by Amazon for a billion plus, right. So what was the innovation there, the innovation was customer service, actually, where were where everyone in e commerce where you know, you’d buy online, and it was a very impersonal kind of engagement with your customer, if you wanted to kind of get someone on the phone, in an e commerce context, sometimes if a card had to go through an FAQ tree, a lot of times in call centers, and e commerce businesses or any online business and make it specifically hard for you to get an agent on the phone. And at Zappos, amongst other things, you know, Tony said, Look, let’s take the opposite approach. We’re a call center, you want to you want to minimize the number of people you have to be on the phone with, you want to minimize the amount of time you’re on the phone. And actually people in call centers get paid bonuses and whatnot for minimizing like you try to fit in as many calls in an hour as you possibly can. And that’s a function of making those calls as short as possible, right? Tony Shea said, let’s make the call as long as possible. In fact, I want to see who can break the record at the company for the longest customer service call. And I believe if my memory serves me, right, I think the longest calls over eight hours, that one of the reps stayed on the phone with someone. And so to my point here, the innovation was customer service, were at a time when when all of the customer service industry was about getting you off the phone and giving you bad service. It was like we’re going to give you high touch, attention and service. And if you don’t like your shoes, I’ll talk to you for two hours about why you didn’t like your shoes. And we’ll give you a new pair of shoes, free of cost. Customers always drive 100% kind of money back guarantee type of philosophy. And that was innovative at the time and innovated to the point we became the largest shoe retailer on the web. Right? I’m in bought by Amazon. So going back to the question, then, you know, how can you innovate? Right? There’s a ton of ways to innovate within a company. And and this is an important kind of question, because from a marketing perspective, you have to ask, how do you differentiate? And that’s really the fundamental kind of existential question of a marketer is, if you know if today, you know, you’re looking to start a edibles brand, or a flower brand, or a concentrate brand, or enter the cannabis industry, in any of let’s say, the plant touching segments, you have to ask yourself, as we discussed earlier, well, first of all, who is your customer? That’s first and foremost? And then secondarily, how am I going to differentiate because you have to assume that there’s going to be numerous brands going after the same customer? What is it that your brand is doing differently, to appeal to that customer segment and to get more market share with that customer segment than the other competitors. And as we know, it’s getting really crowded. So your other competitors could be dozens, if not hundreds of other brands that are going after the same customers. So what is your differentiating factor? And there’s a really tight correlation between that differentiating factor and your innovation. And so here again, in the, in the Zappos example, they said, Hey, we’re going to get some very crowded marketplace, we’re going to innovate on customer service. So they looked for that opportunity of where can we differentiate, innovate in a way that’s going to make us get massive market share? So then for guild extracts? I mean, that’s a good question, right? Like we’ve been focusing on product innovation, and I believe, brand innovation. Now for some companies, you can to some degree, rest on those laurels, right, you can perpetually rest on those laurels. But we built such a strong foundation on brand and product that to this day, when we got to the marketplace, people really have a lot of respect for you know, they view us as a legacy brand. And just that initial kind of innovation in those two areas, helps us to this day and continuing to drive consumer engagement in purchases. But certainly on the product innovation side, we’re continuing to innovate by focusing on the minor cannabinoids that you mentioned, and bringing those to market through a forms of you know, we sell cartridges as well as concentrates. So we’ll bring those minor cannabinoids to our customers in those form factors. We recently launched an edibles line not edibles in the strict sense. They’re essentially tablets that are classified in California as concentrates. If you swallow it, it’s it’s considered a concentrate in a tablet form, unlike, let’s say, a mint, or something that you choose. And so we’re essentially getting our dabs or something like a THC a powder, and we’re putting it in a tablet form, so that people can swallow it and enjoy all the medicinal benefits that thca has. So those are just some examples of how we’re continuing to try to kind of push the envelope of innovation. on the product side, I think that there’s a ton of room for continued innovation on the brand marketing side, really, we’ve somewhat rested on our laurels on just the branding as it relates to the packaging and the aesthetics around signage. But as you get into lifestyle marketing, which can be very expensive, and content marketing and search to really get out there and engage customers in a much richer way, much more multifaceted way, that tends to be very kind of a lot of diversity in your forms of media that you’re using. I think there’s a ton of room for us to grow in that direction. And I think that’s where you can probably see some more innovation coming on the brand marketing side. But that generally takes a lot of resources in terms of capital, to be able to do content marketing and lifestyle marketing effectively. You know, we believe we’re just getting started, this is just the beginning. And so there’s a lot more to come in those in those arenas. And those are just two examples. I think there’s other ways as well, I think right now we’re seeing for example, a lot of innovation, just different product categories and form factors from from inhalers to different types of sublinguals. I mean, it’s just goes on and on. Right, we’re seeing the range of product categories and cannabis expand to just different types of beverages you know, it’s not just a beverage, it can be now an infused wine and infuse tea and infused coffee. It can be, you know, a seltzer water and it’s just it just goes on and on. So again, as for the listeners here, just think about Where’s there an unmet need in the market. If that’s one way to just go into a segment of the market that’s not crowded yet and it’s unmet. Or if you’re going into a more crowded segment, think about how you’re going to differentiate.
Shayda Torabi 42:21
quick break to say thank you to restart CBD for sponsoring this podcast. Restart CBD is a brand my sisters and I founded in our hometown in Austin, Texas, we operate a retail location as well as an e commerce store and you can browse our wide range of CBD products at restart CBD calm again, thank you to restart for allowing me the time and resources to put on to be blunt. I hope you’ll check them out for your CBD needs. Let’s go back to the episode. Everything you said I felt like I was sitting in one of your classes. I’m like a hungry marketing student. I’m like, Yes, all these things. I mean, like you said, though, there’s there’s brand marketing, there’s lifestyle marketing, I think people get into the space, you know, for better or worse from two perspectives. One I think people are hungry with money in their eyes, and they see a big cash opportunity with cannabis and, and to those people. Good luck. And then there’s a lot of people who I think, come at it from the passion side, right? They really care about the plant, they care about the consumer, they care about delivering this experience. They want it to be thoughtful and wrapped up and, and thoughtful has so many applications, right? Because it’s Who’s your consumer, like you said in the beginning of the episode, I think people want different things out of cannabis. I mean, especially for my perspective, having a physical retail store the amount of people that come in range for applications, oh, I want to take it for sleep or I want to take it because I want to be a little you know, messed up, relax at the end of the day, you know, and so you start to see where people are gravitating towards certain products. Where are they getting their information, who’s educating them, I mean, to loop back around on Delta eight for us in Texas, it’s so wild because obviously weed is not legal. I can only select 2.3% THC, which is the federal legal limit. But because we don’t have a rec market or a proper medicinal market, my customers are sometimes a little bit both. But they’re they’re like, you know, I have people I had people coming in to my store months ago, telling me asking me Do I have delta eight and this is before, I mean, knowing that you saw delta and I can imagine it’s a little bit different coming from a market like California where it’s more open. For us. It was like What the hell’s Delta eight, even as myself somebody who consumes a lot of cannabis. I was like, What the hell is delta eight and we had customers coming in? And I said, Where are you? Where are you learning about this can happen boy, read it a friend on some podcast or some media something and it’s very fascinating to me that you have this industry that’s so new yet Another one of your points where it used to be, you know, we’re all just selling flour. We’re all we’re all just selling rice. But now how do you really start to create brands? How do you start to create some sort of ownership of this product, that we’re seeing just customers, that they care so much about what’s happening, that they’re also helping drive, I think the innovation forward, because we didn’t know what Delta eight was, I mean, I hate that I didn’t know what Delta eight was. But like, I know, every lab in Texas, I know everybody growing like I’m in the middle of these conversations, and it just wasn’t a product, you know, people weren’t extracting Delta eight, and then they weren’t turning it into concentrates or into edibles or into whatever. And so now that you have that desire from the consumer, you have the ability from the farmers, the extracts, you know, whatever the people processing it that now we have a product that I can go market, but it’s like, how do you market something that people don’t know about? Or that you’re learning about as the market is learning about, it’s just we find ourselves in such a very, very catch 22 space of like, I’m learning about the market as the market is learning from me as the educator who’s selling products from a brand perspective. So it’s interesting.
Claudio Miranda 46:10
It’s super interesting. I mean, that’s one of the exciting things about cannabis. I mean, it’s, it’s amazing that when you compare it to any other type of commodity, right, it’s just the range of it. In terms of all the products you can make, I mean, think about what other products if you go into a supermarket, like what other products are you going to find that can go into you know, concentrates or smoke bubbles or topicals or edibles or tinctures or sublinguals, or suppositories, you name it right like in the range just keeps getting wider and wider and wider. And within that range. You’ve got all these use cases from medicinal from things that are like alleviating, like terminal illnesses all the way through your just your everyday kind of sleeplessness all the way out to the recreational uses. It’s really like a marketer’s dream. In terms of like, if you want to deal with like a universe of possibilities and opportunities, you know, Cannabis, I think is really unprecedented in that regard. Like the the applications for it. And the use cases for it are vast and counting with every day that passes to your point like Delta eight now and everyone’s just like gravitating toward that. So now that that’s trending, you’re going to see an explosion of delta eight type products in various form factors in various delivery systems and catering to different segments. And then and then all and we still have so many minor cannabinoids that have just barely began to break through the surface. So there’s just so much to come on popularizing cannabinoids, all these other ones. And on the other hand, you know, innovating on delivery systems and things like well, how can I consume this, right? It’s just amazing. Some of the tech and innovation that’s happening especially I would point out like with edibles, for example, of just how you can consume edibles in a way where the onsets a lot faster, where it’s a lot more predictable. I’m really excited to see a lot of the innovation there. For people that don’t want to smoke, it seems to be that the smoking sides of it have been the legacy sides that have happened for for millennia. But now what’s really interesting are the things that are truly novel, you know, ways of consuming cannabis that are that are really brand new to the human species. And it’s it’s really exciting. It’s a very exciting industry.
Shayda Torabi 48:23
I love the way you framed it and just that that beautiful possibility of this is yes, the way that the culture of cannabis has presented itself to us and traditional smoking. Maybe your friend made you know, some pot brownies back in the day. But now like you said, it’s not just you know, you’re seeing edibles brands pop up, or beautiful, you know, concentrate brands, is it nanotechnology, you know, how fast is it absorbing, you know, what’s the breakdown, or even really getting into those minor cannabinoids where Yeah, I’m such a big believer and so excited that like, I mean, I was and I say in every episode, my listeners are like, we get it Shayda you like to smoke pot but like I was the person who just like to smoke pot. I didn’t know what terpenes were I didn’t know what an endocannabinoid system was. I was just smoking because it made me feel better. And now to really get into the science, the medicinal side of, hey, when you mix a CBN with a CBD, what does that experience or adults ate? What does that feel like compared to adult to nine. And I think just giving us that runway to play and to see is so fun. And I just I wasn’t thinking of the industry in that regard. So just in many applications that we have access to, compared to a lot of the other industries, it really is unprecedented. So I appreciate that perspective. But with that said, we are wrapping things up. I appreciated this conversation so much. I literally feel like I have 1000 different ideas and so many good just like nuggets of things that like I now want to go dive into for my own business. So I hope the listeners feel the same way. But I always like to ask and you already kind of touched on some brands that are obviously inspiring you outside of cannabis. But I am always curious to ask, Who is somebody that has a great brand? Whether it’s a dispensary, a product? It could be California, it could be, you know, beyond that you you think is doing a good job branding themselves?
Claudio Miranda 50:20
Oh, that’s a really good question. Well, I mean, a lot of brands come to mind. And and not to seem to kind of predictable here. But But I mentioned earlier, like the cookies brand is one example. And what I like about that, is that kind of some of the things I said about the lifestyle marketing side, right, that the product marketing conversation should be very transactional, like, I’m selling you this product, and that’s the extent of it, right? Like, do you want to buy this product on one eighth or two eights, right. And as you get from transactional marketing, and transformational marketing, and you tap into more the lifestyle dimensions, you start to resonate with people’s lifestyle kind of paths in life, right? You start to identify with their personal sense of identity, the things that mattered to them beyond just the use of the product itself, into other facets of their life, you know, What music do they like, you know, just what are their life preferences and desires and aspirations. And I think that cookies has done a really good job of tapping into the totality of the lifestyle of their customer. And that’s why you see, when you see the cookies kind of customer, you know, they’re they’re wearing the hat, they’re wearing the shirt, they’re listening to the music, it’s really taps into something that’s so much further beyond just, I’m smoking this flower, it’s people really, they’re, they’re giving the customer a reflection of themselves, you know, they’re validating the identity of their customer. And they’re further developing the identity of their customer. And to me, that’s like true marketing right there, where you’re really being able to evolve where they’re kind of mutually evolving the brand with its customers and developing this thing that’s even greater than both of those individually, into this lifestyle, that that that is, again, beyond just cannabis as a commodity as just as thing that you consume. And so I really respect how they’ve done that. And there are other brands that we’ve seen that on just the sheer marketing side of it, I think, have done a good job in that regard, like lolz is another brand that I think the marketing is just so onpoint, and they’re starting to move, you know, if you look at their Instagram, or you looking at just their web presence, it’s again, going beyond just the product itself. They’re they’re they’re they’re trying to tap into the lifestyle of their target customer, and speak to it in a multitude of ways that one might live their life beyond just the consumption of a product. You know, Bebo is another example of a company that’s done that like clandestine, and here again, just talking about the marketing layer, that they’re speaking to the kind of lifestyle marketing side of that. So So from a pure marketing perspective, I like what some of those brands are doing there. But then there’s the other side of it of just the product, right. And I think that’s where some companies have gone a little bit wrong if they go too heavy on marketing. But then once you peel back all this great packaging, and you’re going through all the kind of the online presence, and you’re seeing, you know, the models or this lifestyle that’s resonating with you, whatever it is, then you finally get to consuming the product, and you’re like, Well, that was a letdown, then you’ve got to complete the experience. And that’s where I go back to cookies, that isn’t just marketing facade, all the way down to a lot of the product that you’re consuming, it tends to be like really good flour that people like really love, and it has a kind of stewardship to it, were some of the other brands that are really heavy on marketing, when you get down to the actual consumption of the product, you’re like, wow, like, that’s not the, you know, it’s kind of a mediocre product that’s, you know, dressed up and a lot of kind of, you know, in a lot of marketing lipstick, so to speak, right. So I think that you gotta you know, and that’s my last kind of point here is, you know, as a brand marketer, you got to think about the totality of the experience, and you got to make sure you’re you’re delivering and following through on the full experiences, don’t just invest in pure marketing, it has to be product driven. First and foremost, if you have a great product that people love, they will do the marketing for you to a large extent. And you’re just now trying to harness that. And that’s a thing someone has experienced, we’ve had a guild extract, so we really focused on product and innovation. And then we just let our customers and their enthusiasm lead us along the way. And if you start with marketing first and you’re not really creating a great product, you’re gonna find yourself investing a lot of money in marketing because then you’re just constantly just projecting that appearance and that facade without a lot of follow through on the product quality. And that could be a recipe for disaster listing a lot of marketing dollars.
Shayda Torabi 54:49
everything you just said I mean there’s so much tea I want to spill I’ve had so many products I’ve like sought out to try when I’m visiting the states. I mean, obviously not having access to it. It’s like I have to make a list. I’m like, okay, we’re gonna go here, they sell this brand. Let’s try it. And some have very large celebrity endorsements or their celebrity brands. And obviously, their ministers are speaking of cookies. Like the music being a rapper having the brand, the franchising, the licensing, I just saw cookies is expanding, I think it was Colorado or our Florida, one of those two states, they’re expanding into another do a lot of pop ups in Colorado. Yeah, just because you have a name or you are a brand doesn’t mean that Yeah, your product is always going to be successful, unfortunately, can always be leveraged that way. But I’m really excited for what you are building at guild extracts and so grateful for this conversation and the time. Is there anything else that you want to leave the listeners with? Perhaps where they can find your products? Or where they can follow along on social media?
Claudio Miranda 55:50
Sure, absolutely. Well, just, you know, go to guild extracts calm and from there, you can find links to how to reach us, you can see our products, you can see our kind of store locator as well as links out to our Instagram. And certainly if you just Google gold extracts, you’ll find some of those things as well. But we are just, you know, statewide distributed. So, look for a store near you. We’ve got a lot of, you know, cool products and always kind of innovating as we’ve discussed. So look forward to furthering that engagement with our customers and showing them you know how we can continue to kind of delight them and push that envelope of innovation.
Shayda Torabi 56:24
My brain has officially absorbed as much as it can absorb. I don’t know about you, but I had to listen to this episode a few times before publishing it. And I hope you will, too, because there were so many good points that were made. My major takeaway is that this market is saturated. And so branding is even more of a key driving factor that businesses are entering, or already in the space need to consider if they want to grow to be a true legacy cannabis brand. But I’m curious what were your takeaways? I’d love to learn how these episodes are resonating. And I invite you to share your feedback with me on Instagram. You can connect with this show at To be blunt pod. And I’m always available for consulting to or if you have a great guest for the show. please reach out. I hope you have a wonderful day and I will talk to you on the next episode. Love this
episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit be Shayda torabi.com slash to be blind for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays. And for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at the Shayda Torabi
Transcribed by https://otter.ai