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A look at the cannabis industry’s Las Vegas show week

by Krista Raymer and Elyse Ranger, Vetrina Group

On a plane once again, heading across the border, this time to Las Vegas baby! Our last outing to Santa Rosa’s Hall of Flowers was a fabulous aperitif to the cannabis industry’s largest conference on the circuit, MJ Biz Con – which included the Hall of Flowers installation, and a second stop on the cannabis show circuit: MJ Unpacked at Mandalay Bay.

A supersized conference offering over 80+ speakers, 1,000+ Exhibitors within 250,000+ square feet of expo floors and two HUGE network gatherings. 

One of the biggest opportunities we experienced this year was just how the networking opportunities leveled up for all the attendees. Or maybe we all just missed talking to people in person. Either way, every event around the conference provided an opportunity for people across the industry to come together and get deals done. 

As you would expect cannabis conferences are continuing to diversify and intensify in the sheer number of industry verticals that are popping up.

Everyone from policy, regulations, equipment, retail, packaging, lighting, technology, payment processing, accessories, etc. 

We hit the road and here’s what we found out. 

Takeaway 1: How MJBizCon has changed

Clearly a sign of the industry maturing, this year’s show included a shocking number of packaging providers. 

Following 2019’s focus on cultivation and processing, product packagers offered solutions to one of our industries’ greatest hurdles – regulated product packaging.

We don’t have to tell you how much packaging supports the ability for brands to communicate and educate consumers. Building affinity for their story and ultimately inspiring purchase.

Not only for the benefit of consumer connection, retailers know the consumer journey becomes much more streamlined as brands are given leeway to communicate visually.  

Ancillary technology businesses were waiting in the wings with innovations around monitoring and maintaining myriad applications designed at making retailer and consumer lives  simpler.  

Takeaway 2: The future of cannabis consumption

We attended a female-led panel discussion on the current trends in cannabis consumption and their thoughts on what the future held.

Consumption lounges – of course. Even before the pandemic we knew humans love to come together for a good time. The Future of Cannabis panel saw the expansion of mainstream on-premise consumption lounges as one of the biggest opportunities the industry could anticipate.

Consumption lounges with multi-level/multi-rooms that cater to different consumption options will be one of the biggest industry potentials to come.

Low dose, easy to regulate products again got a big nod. Deliotte’s 2021 Consumer Report confirmed long-term expansion and growth of this industry will be focused on non combustibles and health-and-wellness products which was also backed up by this panel. Creating consumption friendly products and approachable beverages will be big sellers for the industry in the months and years to come.

Speakers: Chamber of Cannabis, CRO of CANN, Nevada Dispensary Association, Cannect Hospitality 

Takeaway 3: There is more to learn

In 2019 when the Vetrina Group attended it was completely overwhelming. Let alone starting in the cannabis industry at the beginning of the pandemic. Having 20 years of retail experience wasn’t enough to help navigate this new space and it was tough to get meetings and build relationships. 

Photo credit Krista Raymer, Director of Store Experience Elyse Ranger and the incredible team from Headset

We know we’re able to be a part of this industry because those that fought for legalization before us and we’re committed (like so many of you) to advancing the movement forward for normalizing cannabis and further legitimizing this industry. 

Being with passionate like minded people, face-to-face was refreshing and having the ability to immerse ourselves in an industry that has yet to be fully explored was done expertly by the team from MJBizCon.

The networking opportunities are not the only thing worth your time. There continues to be real value and learning in the panel discussions and trade floor. We gained incredible insights from major players, sharing  their knowledge and experiences.

Notable Booth of the Year

Something fun we’d like to start including in these Round-Ups – and the inaugural  shout out goes to our friends at Dutchie!

Photo credit Krista Raymer & Elyse Ranger

They did a great job creating an experience for all your senses, featuring a hotel-themed booth with areas to sit, in private, and experience the technology at your fingertips. 

It was unique, not only because of it’s sheer scale, but the fact that it allowed for periphery events around it’s circumference for more intimate opportunities around networking.

KIKI at the COPA official MJBiz Kick off Party was also notable as it goes..

Hosted by  House of Puff X Maison Bloom and Flower Hire and Tech Vaca Happy Hour.

In conclusion

If you can only make it to one industry event in the US next year go with MJ Biz Con. The networking opportunities alone are worth the price of admission for any stalwart or growing business. 

Selfishly, we hope some focus can move towards retailers as they remain on the front-lines with consumers. They are building this industry one sale at a time and there is room for improvement.

We need to better understand the customer using data, and purchasing patterns, continuing to provide innovation and experiences. 

We’ve told Business of Cannabis we are fabulous at these Round-Ups and they’ve agreed we can maybe write another one. 

Hopefully we’ll see some of you at the Grow-Up Conference in the Falls, which kicks off at the end of November. 

Come and say hi if you’re in the neighbourhood and if you have any questions – we’d love to talk!

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