“In the cannabis industry, we’re all navigating through uncharted territories and have the privilege to help define a new space.”
The cannabis industry often gets ahead of itself while flaunting their commitment to gender equality. However, data is telling that things are a bit different on the ground and women are fighting hard to get into leadership roles. In 2019, female executive representation in the regulated industry stood at 36.8%. This figure is higher than the national average which is about 30%. However, female representation dipped to 22% in 2021, according to MJBizDaily’s 2021 Women & Minorities in the Cannabis Industry report.
2022 has been dubbed a defining year for female leadership in cannabis due to a number of reasons. It will take the concerted effort of all stakeholders for the industry to push beyond the 36.8% representation mark that was set in 2019. Women need to be recognized and given greater access to leadership opportunities in the industry.
With this in mind, we spoke to an exceptional woman who is literally “taking the bull by its horns” with cannabis marketing, hoping to get a better understanding of the important roles that women are playing in moving the industry forward.
Vanessa Vanjari is the brand manager of Greenlane which is a publicly listed “global platform for the development and distribution of premium cannabis accessories and lifestyle products.” The company serves the global market with an expansive customer base with over 11,000 retail locations. Their clientele encompasses licensed cannabis dispensaries, smoke shops, and specialty retailers. More interestingly is that Vanessa is based out of Jamaica.
As an intro, how did your career path lead you to the cannabis industry?
I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in Marketing and Greenlane gave me the opportunity to do so through a 3-month internship. As a marketer, the cannabis industry was an appealing path for me as it allowed for a lot of creative freedom. Through my internship at Greenlane I saw the opportunity to join a growing industry that offered many challenges, but also many rewards. In the cannabis industry, we’re all navigating through uncharted territories and have the privilege to help define a new space.
You are involved in B2B in the cannabis industry. Help us understand the challenges that come with setting up an e-commerce business in the cannabis industry?
As the Brand Manager for Greenlane’s owned and operated brands I get to work with a variety of different products. Some items are more challenging than others as restrictions vary per product. With E-Commerce we face several limitations on the manner we can market certain products due to industry regulations, especially as a publicly traded company. We face challenges with paid advertising and have limited SEO capabilities that other regulated industries don’t encounter. Anything alluding to the consumption of cannabis is simply not allowed on most of our media channels.
You have an extensive all-round customer base, how does the cannabis industry compare to the mainstream industries?
What is great about the cannabis industry is the amount of diversity we have in our customer base. At Higher Standards, our flagship store, we see a variety of customers daily from all different occupations, age groups and ethnic backgrounds. Our goal as a company has always been to destigmatize the industry and make sure everyone feels free to express themselves while providing products that are attainable to all.
How important is branding for the cannabis industry?
Branding plays a big part in our strategy as a House of Brands. We market to a diverse audience, and it is important to us that all our products are not only functional but beautiful. Our team takes pride in establishing brands that bring unique and high-quality products to the market.
Tell us more about the target market for premium cannabis accessories and lifestyle products?
Our target market varies for each of our accessory lines, but we have the same goal amongst all. We want to make sure that our product offering is inclusive and pulls in a diverse demographic from all backgrounds.
Could you furnish us with some insights on consumer spending patterns in the cannabis industry, and which patterns are we likely to witness in 2022?
We are moving towards a more knowledgeable customer within the industry as it continues to grow. Consumers are aware of what they want and now have the ability to compare products to other brands. We can’t predict how customers will spend but we can guarantee that our customers want quality and value for their buck!
In a nutshell, what does it take to succeed as an e-commerce cannabis business?
It takes patience, listening to your audience and a dedicated team who is committed to bringing user-friendly interface to their consumers. We also maintain a good practice of using internal marketing efforts (I.e. social posts, email blasts, browser alerts) to drive traffic and ensure our site’s success. It is important to not only focus on our site but get creative by utilizing other forms of out-reach, such as working amongst various social platforms, utilizing affiliate programs and paid media to help re-enforce our brand identity.
What has been the biggest challenge that you have encountered since Greenlane’s inception?
I’ve been with Greenlane close to 5 years and through my time with the company we’ve had great success with establishing our brands and broadening our footprint. We’ve overcome challenges as a company trying to balance the various regulations of our territories and have had to stay flexible with ever-changing market restrictions — we have hopes that one day this will no longer be the case.
You have worked with big brands including PAX Labs, Storz & Bickel (Canopy-owned), Cookies, Grenco Science, and DaVinci. Which aspect of your job gives you the greatest fulfillment?
Learning from other organizations in the industry is always great, it’s rewarding to know we are amongst the big brands paving the way of the cannabis industry. I find it fulfilling that we all work together as the industry leaders to help define the space and work towards our common goal —legalization.
Digitization in the cannabis industry: where are we now and where are we headed?
I think we’ve “caught up” with digitization within the cannabis industry aside from the restrictions we face due to regulations on cannabis. We continue to aim to keep up with digital trends and maintain a sense of innovation where possible in our market. Next up is continuing to grow with the times and technology — who knows, cannabis could catch up to the metaverse one day!
It was a great pleasure to have this one-on-one with Vanessa from Greenlane. Readers who wish to learn more about Greenlane should check out their website.