In the past year, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut have legalized adult-use cannabis. The Northeast is set to become a multi-billion-dollar market as consumer adoption rates climb up to record levels in the United States. With sales potentially starting in late 2021 in New Jersey and in 2022 for New York and Connecticut, it is imperative that brands and operators prepare for the forthcoming retail boom.
Here are four tips to ensure businesses are well-positioned to meet consumer demand on the East Coast—and in any expanding market.
1. Optimize your production team.
It will not matter how great your product is if you cannot get it to your customers. At Curaleaf, our production and manufacturing teams are always looking to implement lean manufacturing techniques, such as one-piece flow, a concept that can help to avoid delays and bottlenecks within manufacturing operations.
Having someone focused on creating a demand plan and converting it into a realistic production plan is vital—it pays to know early on if you have the input material and manpower to create what you need. If you find that you lack these resources, you can then start working on plan B.
Also, optimizing production can drive down product costs and create a streamlined retail experience for consumers as they receive a consistent supply of high-quality products.
2. Invest in reliable insights.
Businesses need to anticipate consumer demand and identify emerging product trends through reliable, accurate data. Critical retail insights that include metrics to forecast demands can allow brands and operators to decide when it is time to increase cultivation capabilities, especially in markets that have recently moved to adult-use, like Arizona, or are in the process of transitioning from medical to adult-use offerings, like New Jersey.
Operators can also use insights from comparable adult-use markets to determine what to produce and make available in stores proactively.
Although quality data can be found online for free, it may be worth paying for market research when you are able to do so.
3. Build a rapport with regulators.
Cannabis regulations can change at a moment’s notice, even in the most established markets. Therefore, fostering relationships with state-level and municipal regulators can help regulated businesses stay ahead of the curve and avoid costly delays during the transition process.
While regulations are still in the process of being written in the latest states to approve adult-use markets, it’s critical for cannabis businesses to show up to local hearings, get face-time with lawmakers, and let them see how their laws will impact local businesses. Be vocal around concerns that might negatively impact your ability to run an effective business.
4. Understand and develop your product supply chain.
Having a varied and consistent product selection is key when it comes to being successful in your retail strategy. One of the key differences between adult-use and medical retail is understanding your product mix and target audience. Develop a clear plan of what you intend on producing in-house and what you need to outsource. After making these distinctions, it’s important to vet and establish relationships with wholesale partners ahead of a market’s launch date.
Above all, keep an open mind. Cannabis businesses are competing against each other, but the more we cooperate, the more successful the industry will be. There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all method to grow cannabis, so as more cultivators start coming online, consider networking and visiting their sites to see and swap best practices. East Coast consumers are looking for a wide variety of quality products to choose from, and there are myriad ways for brands and operators to meet these needs.