CANN SOCIAL TONICS
This may come as a big surprise but when it comes to cannabis products, it isn’t always the norm that awesome product and great branding go hand-in-hand. We’ve spoken about our friends at 1906 New Highs before and have been at a bit of a loss to find another brand that gets it ALL right. (And honestly, why SHOULDN’T brands be getting it all right?! It’s a consumer product and we deserve the full package.) Also, if you’re feeling alcohol fatigue from, ya know, coping with the state of the world/everything, you’re in luck.
Enter Cann Social Tonics. These beautifully packaged products not only deliver but are also surrounded by an incredible amount of fun – the brand’s content and copy is a total delight, as is their approach and “why” behind why they are doing what they do. As a quick hit, these are delicious little sparkling drinks in incredible all-natural flavors that give you a very light buzz (2.5mg THC) with quick onset. Even better, you won’t wake up with a handover and is low in calories. STRAIGHT. UP. DELISH.
(Low key – how is it possible to even pick a favorite flavor with options like Lemon Lavender, Grapefruit Rosemary, and Blood Orange Cardamom?)
Cann Social Tonics also go out of their way to know that they have the opportunity to play a bigger part in the cannabis industry and the world as a whole. They know they have a (great) voice and they want to make sure they are using it. More brands like Cann, please!
And lucky freakin’ us…we got direct access to the founders of Cann Social Tonics, Luke Anderson and Jake Bullock, who were both kind and cool enough to answer questions that we now get to share. They did not disappoint and made us love their biz even more. They just get it – and isn’t it always refreshing when you come across people who just get it?!
Meet Luke & Jake.
So how did Cann come about? What’s your “origin story”?
It really started when we first met on our first day of work at Bain & Company in San Francisco. We became friends and spent our free time going on weekend trips with friends or to music festivals around the world, all fueled by quite a bit of alcohol.
Following Bain, Luke went to Harvard Business School and returned to Bain & Co, while Jake went to Bain Capital and then to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. It was in these years that our hangovers started getting worse and the prospects of continuing to drink alcohol started to seem unsustainable. Yet, we were social people and were not going to put our social lives on hold.
We got tired of hating drinking and hating not drinking. Alcohol prevented us from being the best versions of ourselves, but the alcohol alternatives available did not actually help us feel like being social. We wanted a third option: a drink that gave you a similar engaging, uplifting feeling as alcohol does but would not give you a hangover. Also, it had to taste unique and delicious and be made with real ingredients.
We created early prototypes in Jake’s garage in Palo Alto and Luke’s kitchen in London and tested samples on all of our friends. Six months later, the first microdosed social tonic, Cann, was born, using 5 all natural ingredients and with under 35 calories, all wrapped up in a beautiful little can that you’d be proud to drink alongside your friends.
What were the key elements when you were developing the product and building the brand?
Flavor first — we wanted this product to be innovative in and of itself, with distinctly adult savory flavors and a simple list of all-natural ingredients sourced from the best places in the world. We never use juices from concentrate, sugar substitutes or artificial ingredients or preservatives. These values make our Canns taste delicious and actually better for you.
Social — we have spent thousands of years of human history socializing with beverages. We made our social tonics as strong as a beer or a glass of wine, so that you can have a number of them in one setting.
Irreverent – we try not to take ourselves too seriously. After all, we are selling a product that makes you feel good and be more of yourself when you socialize. The world is a crazy place and we choose to approach it with a quirky and irreverent style. The Cann brand voice reflects the uniqueness of our product and our mission.
What are your goals for Cann? For the brand itself but also the community that buys it.
We are a social beverage company and at our core we want to change the way people socialize by giving them better beverage options than alcohol. Our social tonics use THC and CBD as their functional ingredients, which are fantastic natural, mild intoxicants that create an uplifting feeling. We want to share these products with more and more consumers, so that they can experience the benefits of a light, refreshing social beverage without the ill-effects of alcohol.
We hope that cannabis beverages will become a mainstream consumer category, just like kombucha and hard seltzer. We believe that it takes products like Cann to build a bridge from the cannabis industry to mainstream consumers that still see cannabis products as stigmatizing.
Who do you see as your key customer and what has the path been like in reaching them?
Our key customer is anyone who is frustrated with their relationship with alcohol. 21 out of 25 adults want to moderate or reduce their alcohol consumption. Our consumers cut across age, gender and geography and are united by a common healthy hedonism. They want to be social and have engaging, fun times with friends and family, but they also care about what they put into their bodies and love not being hungover the next day.
The path to reach these consumers is very challenging, primarily because Cann can only be sold through licensed cannabis dispensaries or through a licensed cannabis delivery platform. For many folks, visiting cannabis dispensaries is not a part of their normal routine, so it is difficult for them to discover and learn about Cann. This is even harder given restrictions on cannabis advertising, so we try to provide a love of informative, educational content about our product on our Instagram (@drinkcann) and our website (http://www.shop.drinkcann.com) to get the word out.
Can you talk about your growth plan with both product offering and distribution? (Especially, when will you be in Colorado for our own selfish reasons?)
We have already launched two very exciting new product lines this summer. We added our Cann Roadies product, which is a social tonic liquid packet that allows consumers to take Cann on the go. Just mix one with your favorite beverage, wherever you are. We also released a limited edition Hi Boy, which is a taller can with slightly more THC at 5MG. Our Hi Boys are modeled after the “tall boys” from beer and are best for folks with more experience with cannabis that may have a higher tolerance built up. Stay tuned for more flavor and product releases coming soon.
We are also pursuing expansion into new state markets as we speak. We are currently available in California, Nevada and Rhode Island and hopefully will be in Colorado and a handful of other states soon.
You only follow one account on Instagram and it is the official Black Lives Matter account. How do social justice initiatives work into your brand?
Cann acknowledges our privilege and the role it has played in the opportunities we have today, particularly in a cannabis industry that stands on the shoulders of Black and Brown people that have lost their lives and their freedom for doing what we do every day. We recognize the disproportionate and devastating harm the war on drugs and discriminatory criminal justice systems have inflicted on people of color. We have committed to using our platform to build solidarity with the Black community through our hiring, our choice of partners, and the communities we align with and uplift through donations and partnerships. We have an internal social justice team that manages all of these initiatives, including auditing our hiring systems and processes, elevating Black voices on our social media, donating to social justice causes and determining who we select as partners. Diversity and inclusion have been in the brand’s DNA since day one and will continue to be a pillar of Cann’s brand ethos.
Your copy and content is incredibly fun to interact with – how do you work that kind of fun personality into the brand?
First off, we do it all ourselves! We care so deeply about how our brand shows up, what it stands for and how it can connect to our drinkers. For that reason, we spend hours each week developing concepts and brainstorming ideas for content and copy, led by an amazing team of in-house creative people. We also try to have fun with it; after all, we are selling drugs!
How have you seen the world of edibles change and what do you see for its future as part of the wider cannabis industry?
The single biggest trend that we have seen is microdosing. As new consumers venture into the cannabis industry, or folks that had a bad experience with cannabis return, they are all looking for products that feel approachable and safe and give them control over their experience. We expect to see more and more microdosed products across the edibles category, but especially in beverage where we are already used to drinking microdoses of caffeine (coffee or tea) or alcohol (beer or wine).
We will also see products emerge that will fall into two categories, ones that have real values behind what they are making and ones that are cutting corners on quality and taste. We put so much time (and money) into selecting our ingredients, sourcing them from the best places in the world, and not having artificial flavors or concentrated juices or fake sweetneers or “cheateners”, like stevia that leave a bad aftertaste. Product values like these will be what sets us apart from other brands.
A huge thank you to these two badasses for sharing their product and their wisdom/joy with us – the cannabis industry is a wild world and to hear from a team like this is absolutely inspiring.