Bringing Missouri’s culture to brands & Jane’s not-so-Amazon strategy
By Kaitlin Domangue
Vivid is infusing St. Louis culture with cannabis – and it‘s delicious
I might be biased y’all, but I love the city of St. Louis. I was born here but lived in Houston for 14 years.
My family moved back to St. Louis when I was 17, so it’s where my adult life began. I’ve been able to experience the city in a way I never got to experience in Houston, though it will always be my home. 🏠
My love for St. Louis, Missouri only grew fonder in 2018 when more than 65% of Missourians (including me) said yes to medical cannabis. Total medical cannabis sales have topped $330 million since the first dispensary opened for business in October 2020.
St. Louis is a city built on tradition and a meshing of cultures from around the world. It’s the sixth best sports city in the United States, the zoo is free and one of the country’s best, and Food & Wine named us the “next great food city.” 🍕
Some of our favorite foods:
- Red Hot Riplets – spicy barbecue baked potato chips
- Ted Drewes frozen custard (basically a thick ice cream)
- St. Louis toasted ravioli (or “t-rav” as St. Louisans call it :-))
- St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake – (basically a coffee cake with a twist)
- St. Louis style pizza (thin crust & provel, NOT provolone, cheese – not my fave tbh)
And a lot more. That’s why it’s no surprise that our love for St. Louis food made its way to the Missouri medical cannabis market.
THC-infused Red Hot Riplets hit Missouri shelves in June. Old Vienna, the makers of the original Red Hot Riplets, worked alongside Missouri cannabis manufacturer, Vivid, to bring the special snack to life.
Vivid’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tony Billmeyer, said it perfectly: “Missouri’s Own [Vivid’s own line of edibles] is a brand that’s designed to celebrate our local flavors, and no flavor says. St. Louis more than Red Hot Riplets.”
The “twice-baked” (get it?) version costs around $14 and contains 20 milligrams of THC.
The Old Vienna brand has made a name for itself in St. Louis and the Missouri medical cannabis market gets to take advantage of that leverage. Old Vienna has been operating in St. Louis since the 1930s – and plenty of families trust the brand.
I wasn’t able to find the current revenue of Old Vienna, but a 2006 article cited $6 million in annual revenue during that time.
“Build it and they will come” is one of the most common misconceptions about launching a cannabis brand. Cannabis doesn’t sell itself, contrary to popular belief. 🤷♀️
I don’t have to tell most of you that cannabis branding & marketing is far more challenging than bringing a traditional CPG to market.
The reputation of a cannabis brand is still not a top-10 purchasing decision for cannabis consumers because the market is in an experimental phase.
And 35% of BDSA’s tracked consumers say manufacturers need to do a better job at making product dosages more consistent.
But with Twice-Baked Red Hot Riplets: St. Louis isn’t trialing a new brand. We’ve trusted Old Vienna for nearly 100 years. Vivid is putting itself on Missouri’s map in a smart & sustainable way by partnering directly with a brand the city (and state) loves. 💯
Missouri’s Own, Vivid’s in-house edibles brand, also gives a nod to the state by featuring locally-sourced fruit in its gummy ingredients; like pawpaw – the only tropical fruit native to Missouri.
Other flavors include locally sourced raspberries, blackberries, grapes, watermelon, and more from Missouri farmers.
Vivid’s Twice-Baked Red Hot Riplets was an instant hit for Missouri cannabis consumers. And I predict the brand’s sales to only skyrocket post-legalization in Missouri. 🚀
Jane Technologies isn’t the Amazon of cannabis
I Heart Jane, powered by Jane Technologies, is an online cannabis marketplace for consumers. Online marketplaces often remove the middle man, making wholesale goods directly accessible to consumers. 📫
But they aren’t Amazon. And here’s why:
Amazon is the most well-known online marketplace in digital history. 56.7% of U.S. eCommerce sales were on Amazon in 2021.
But the eCommerce giant is often criticized for exploiting small businesses, its workers, and local communities. So much so, that 80% of Americans think Amazon should be subject to greater regulation. 🚫
More than half of voters support breaking the online platform up completely. Several lawmakers feel the same way, in both parties, with the House Judiciary Committee concluding Amazon’s monopoly power over small and medium-sized businesses.
Amazon has since ramped up efforts to prove its “mutually beneficial relationship” with small businesses listing products on Amazon’s platform.
But in 2019, three-quarters of independent retailers said Amazon’s dominance is a major threat to their survival. Just 11% of independent retailers on Amazon’s site described their experience as successful.
With I Heart Jane, local cannabis businesses are at the forefront. Consumers are, too. 🤝
Federal prohibition is the most challenging part of running a cannabis business. We can’t ship products, which means cannabis operations are insanely hyperlocal.
It’s frustrating, but at the same time, small & local businesses are perfectly positioned to thrive.
It takes, on average, $500-$3,000 to simply get started selling on the Amazon marketplace. Sellers also have to pay monthly subscription fees after they’re up and running, with the professional plan costing $40 a month. There’s a host of other fees, too.
Put simply: Amazon made $121 billion from the fees it charges sellers last year. That’s enough to offset the losses incurred from Amazon Prime, according to a new report.
“If you actually add up all the ways Amazon nickels and dimes you… you can’t make money,” said Doug Mrdeza, founder of Top Shelf Brands, an e-commerce seller in Michigan.
I Heart Jane takes a $1 fee from dispensaries per order. That means the success of I Heart Jane wholly depends on the success of the cannabis retailer. Amazon sellers often pay fees even when they aren’t selling products. 💰
I Heart Jane has a few offerings for cannabis businesses, so there might be additional fees for larger businesses, but it is considerably less than Amazon’s $121 billion.
But, I Heart Jane still has plenty of capital to power the American industry. Jane Technologies has raised several rounds of funding, the most recent being a $100 million Series C round.
Socrates Rosenfeld, CEO, and Co-Founder of Jane Technologies emphasized the importance of appealing to the consumer, too. Putting power in the hands of consumers is crucial for online platforms like Jane.
Customers need to field verified product reviews, learn about the product itself, compare prices, and more to make an educated decision online. They can’t hold the product in their hands.
That’s why product reviews are a key component of I Heart Jane’s model. 🔑
Only consumers that have verifiably purchased the product in question can leave a review. 79% of consumers put as much weight on online reviews as personal recommendations, and reviews lead to an 18% increase in sales on average.
I Heart Jane’s platform also allows consumers to search for products based on their needs. Type “sleep” in the search bar and you’ll have a selection of local products to choose from, in all formats and doses.
Dispensaries can get started with I Heart Jane here.