Shopper Marketing - April 2016 - 129


By Michael Applebaum

I

n 2014, two years after marijuana was
declared legal for recreational adult use
in Colorado, there were already some
200 licensed cannabis operators in the
Centennial State. The running joke was:
"Colorado has more marijuana dispensaries
than Starbucks stores."
Today, the Starbucks reference is no laughing matter. As the barriers to legalized marijuana continue to fall in several U.S. states,
operators of cannabis retail stores and medical marijuana dispensaries are seizing upon
a major rebranding opportunity - with input
from top CPG executives - to change consumer perceptions of the product.
For now, the idea that these retailers will
evolve into Starbucks-style lounges is a nonstarter; even the states that have legalized
recreational marijuana usage ban consumption in public. Nevertheless, a handful of players in the category have broken the traditional
mold of dreary mom-and-pop stores and clinical dispensaries. Their sleek, sophisticated
new designs are creating a more welcoming
environment, one that attempts to peel away
the stigma of marijuana and elevate the customer experience.

Leading Players
At the head of the pack is Colorado-based
Good Chemistry, which operates twin cannabis retail locations in Denver and Aurora.

The Denver site, which began as a medical dispensary in 2010, now also sells cannabis for recreational use. The much larger,
3,600-square-foot facility in Aurora opened
for recreational sales last spring.
At its Aurora store, Good Chemistry employs a mix of design cues - including wood
trim, pendant lighting and warm accents of
yellow, orange and green - that seem more
akin to the aisles of a Trader Joe's. The main
floor includes four kiosk stations outfitted
with iPads for customer research and "budtender" consultations. Walls are adorned with
colorful art panels featuring illustrations that
depict a category system in which strains of
cannabis are paired unapologetically with
their desired physiological effects: "Amplify,"
"Relax," "Relieve," and "Sleep."
"Our goal was to create a broadly inviting
and welcoming retail experience that you
could find in any of the best malls in America,"
says Michael Markowitz, president of Michael
Markowitz and Associates in Santa Fe, New
Mexico. Having worked with the likes of Anheuser-Busch and Panera Bread, Markowitz
was among the handful of traditional branding gurus (along with graphic designer Joseph
Duffy and architect Tony Coleman) that Good
Chemistry CEO Matthew Huron brought in to
design the store. Good Chemistry's retailing
model is a "continuously evolving hybrid,"
says Markowitz. "For many of us, it is a brand
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Shopper Marketing - April 2016

Contents
Shopper Marketing - April 2016 - Intro
Shopper Marketing - April 2016 - 1
Shopper Marketing - April 2016 - 2
Shopper Marketing - April 2016 - 3
Shopper Marketing - April 2016 - Contents
Shopper Marketing - April 2016 - 5
Shopper Marketing - April 2016 - 6
Shopper Marketing - April 2016 - 7
Shopper Marketing - April 2016 - 8
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