Los Angeles-based cannabis retailer MedMen has been leading the charge to bring marijuana into the mainstream—a market estimated to hit $75 billion by 2030, says investment firm Cowen & Co.
When recreational marijuana became legal in California this year, L.A. customers who visited MedMen stores waited in block-long lines, not unlike the mobs seen at iPhone or Supreme drops. Inside, they found sales reps welcoming them into a space featuring wooden walls and elegant glass-topped display cases holding sniffable bud samples and iPads with more info on the goods.
Such upscale design elements have helped MedMen transcend any seedy, black-market stereotypes and led some to label it the Apple or Starbucks of weed.
"We're a retailer and we happen to sell cannabis," says Chief Marketing Officer David Dancer, who last served as executive VP and head of marketing at Teleflora.
CEO Adam Bierman and President Andrew Modlin, the company's co-founders, have largely focused their efforts on shaping MedMen as a retail brand. This year, the company debuted two major campaigns seeking to destigmatize cannabis. The first, which dropped in April, depicted folks from all walks of life—a cop, a coach, a designer and an enterpreneur—standing behind the scratched-out word "stoner."
In August, the brand introduced its largest marketing effort to date—a $4 million campaign that displays the word "cannabis" in large letters against vibrant photography of consumers enjoying L.A. locations like Beverly Hills.
MedMen also recently expanded its ads to Las Vegas with billboards depicting "locals" (e.g., an Elvis impersonator) that point to the chain's newest retail location in Paradise, Nevada.
In both the ads and real life, consumers emerge from MedMen stores carrying the brand's signature red zippered totes. "If this were 10 years ago, you'd be getting it in a brown bag, but now [our shoppers can say], 'I can purchase cannabis and be proud of it,'" Dancer says.
MedMen has worked steadily to increase its ad presence despite regulatory hurdles. The brand has been featured in national spots on Sirius XM. It broke through in terrestrial radio earlier this year on San Diego alternative station 91X.