Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tokyo Smoke: Cannabis Spoken at FEI


Tokyo Smoke
Alan Gertner
An FEI 17 Keynote

Alan’s calling is coffee, clothing, and cannabis.

Alan “first consumed cannabis as a teenager.” They chose a convenient store parking not, which was not, in retrospect, a positive experience.

So many already consume.
After working at Google, Alan reached all of his goals by the age of 30. “I wasn’t challenging myself.” He ended up in Ghana and found his way to a voodoo ceremony.

His next project was himself, trying to figure out his core passions and motivations. On a big spreadsheet, he scored how meaningful his life was. 

He discovered two simple things: (1) likes big challenges and (2) likes being part of a community.

On the way to college, Alan partook of cannabis with his father and a friend, which “changed my perception of this substance.”

“I had always thought about cannabis as a subculture, not a part of normal life,” he adds. 133 million Americans have tried cannabis. ¼ of Americans consume cannabis on a regular basis.

The legal marijuana industry is growing above 25% each year, which means there is both “broad support and massive room for innovation.”

90% of cannabis consumers do not make cannabis use their primary identity.

“Which makes me think of coffee,” he says, “and what all Starbucks did in the second wave of coffee with its own language and choices. Now, we are in the third wave.” Pot will go the same way. Right now, “cannabis prices are plummeting.” To rise in value, you need “brands, stories, and a nomenclature.”

Now you see normalized, accessible way to consume, such as vapor pens, body lotions, mints, sodas, more.

The idea of Tokyo Smoke was “to being some of the elegance of Japanese branding to the cannabis space.” The idea was to try and build something new, something approachable.

Cannabis, even for casual users, is more of a lifestyle—so there needs to be lifestyle brands. The goal is to build a high awareness business that normalizes cannabis.

“We are on the precipice of a major social change.” There are existing consumers and they are just looking for a brand.

“I’m excited about seeing this revolution happen and be a part of it,” he says.


Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an insight, innovation, and strategy firm based in Memphis, TN, and the author of Going Electric. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com

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