When Houseplant launched in the U.S. on March 11 earlier this year, the cannabis company’s website famously crashed. Brand co-founder Seth Rogen spent the day tweeting with eager customers, ensuring that folks in California would indeed be able to buy Houseplant flower and Housegoods products.
Within the first 24 hours, Houseplant cannabis inventory was sold out. As the week went on, the brand notched more than 500 million media impressions.
It was an auspicious start for the business’s foray into the U.S. after two years in the Canadian marketplace.
“Launching in the U.S. was always the plan, and years of work went into making it possible, so March 11 was a very exciting day for the team,” Mikey Mohr, Houseplant co-founder and CEO, says. “We had high hopes and expectations as we had prepared for so long and poured so much creativity and enthusiasm into what we were about to share with the world, but, honestly, we were blown away by the initial response. It was so overwhelmingly positive and showed how much our thesis and our brand resonated with people—obviously we never expected the excitement to crash our website, but looking back it was such a fun ride and has pushed us to continue to deliver at a high level.”
The enthusiasm matched what Houseplant had seen in Canada before the California work began. Product moved quickly in British Columbia and Ontario, and Mohr says that the brand learned how to convert those fast-moving sales metrics into business lessons.
“We learned that patience and discipline were critical,” Mohr says. “We were the first brand to treat cannabis products with the reverence they deserve across all touchpoints. We rolled out a best in class go to market strategy from innovative award-winning packaging to breakthrough in-store displays.”
While Houseplant has since severed ties with its Canadian partner and foreshadowed some sort of relaunch in the country (“This is not an exit from the Canadian market, but a chance for us to evolve the brand,” Rogen wrote at the time), the current state of affairs has Houseplant all-in on the world’s largest adult-use cannabis market in California.
And through it all, Rogen and co-founder Evan Goldberg remain very visible in the way this business works. Rogen’s name is practically synonymous with Houseplant at this point, and he appears in a series of videos promoting the brand and explaining some of the finer points of cannabis use.
“This is not just another ‘insert celebrity here’ weed brand,” Mohr says. “Seth and Evan have a close, personal relationship with the entire team—longtime college friends, cousins, you name it—and have been involved in every step, from testing hundreds of strains in the California market to spending hours on end to perfect final product designs and marketing creative. Seth in particular has taken his passion and love for design and turned it into his next chapter and this business venture.”
The Housegoods component is important. Launched in tandem with Houseplant’s move to the U.S., the brand pairs design and decorative arts with the cultural depth of cannabis. Customers interested in Rogen’s ceramic ashtray set or block table lighter can shop the site and order deliveries even if they live in a state that hasn’t yet legalized cannabis. New items appear regularly, keeping the product mix fresh and intriguing.
This broadens the brand’s appeal to a customer base well outside the select California markets currently supporting Houseplant cannabis. Those customers, of course, peruse the same website and familiarize themselves with cannabis products—grasping the full extent of the brand.
“Our Housegoods branding strategy is an integral part of the brand: to design amazing products that complement a modern consumer's lifestyle and interests,” Mohr says. “Another branding decision was to maintain the retro-inspired branding, but make it more contemporary—i.e. removing VHS effects [on the website]—to showcase that our products may have been inspired by innovations of the past, but still have a place in your home today.”