Recapping Hall of Flowers Santa Rosa 2021

The fourth Hall of Flowers in Santa Rosa (one in 2018, two in 2019) was another can't miss event. I'll be looking forward to seeing the differences between the Santa Rosa and the Palm Springs events.

For anyone interested in seeing how brands have developed over the past three years and new products launching in the California market, Hall of Flowers is the trade show to attend. While the audience for Hall of Flowers is mainly Retailers (buyers) and Exhibitors (around 300 brands), it’s overall a great place to meet with other people in the ecosystem and see what new products / innovation is happening in the industry. It provides a good idea of how brands are trying to differentiate in a crowded market. While there is certainly a lot to do around Hall of Flowers, I wanted to point out how I made the most of it and some notable highlights.

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The best part of working in cannabis is the community. The Rebud team was at Hall of Flowers to support our existing brand partners and meet new great brands. It was refreshing to see everyone there—you can tell everyone is excited about what’s ahead for our industry. HOF feels authentic. At Rebud, we believe people and culture matter in the business, so we were there to participate in that.
Rebud COO, Narek Khachatryan

Notable Brands Missing. A number of notable brands were missing from the show, some of which included Flow Cannabis, Henry’s Originals, and Cann (and not to mention the celebrity-related brands launched at previous shows that are no longer active). Some had concerns over committing to the show with COVID cases still rampant when they had to decide months ago, while others thought marketing budgets could be better spent elsewhere. Attendees also couldn’t help but speculated if declining outdoor flower prices might have impacted company performances/budgets.

“We are in and performing well in every dispensary that caters to a premium canna-curious consumer, and with the highest repeat purchase rate of any brand / product in the industry. Our partners would rather us invest in co-marketing that drives consumer uptake over expensive trade show activations. We were delighted to see Gem & Jane and Wunder do such beautiful jobs with theirs as it helps drive B2B interest in the beverage category overall — and we have conviction around a rising tide lifts all boats effect.” — Cann Co-Founder Luke Anderson

We were actually signed up for one of the mid-size booths (Boutique Plus). However, when the Delta variant was really beginning to surge in July we had an internal discussion and ultimately decided to back out from any formal participation in the event as we really had no idea how things were going to play out due to COVID. The Hall of Flowers team was certainly accommodating. Ultimately, we had a few members of our team attend and we were really happy to see how well the event ended up turning out from both an attendance and content perspective. I spoke with a number of brand partners that we work with on the B2B services side of things who participated and they were all happy with the ROI.
Flow Cannabis Co-Founder Adam Steinberg

MSOs with Presence Continue to Make Push into Market. Cresco had their usual large outdoor display, and given their recent announcement that the company will be focusing its distribution efforts on owned brands (and not third party brands like King’s Garden, which had its own large presence), it made sense for the company to continue pushing the brand presence. A notable MSO growing its presence in California in a large way is 4Front/Mission (170,000 square foot production facility), which had a nicely displayed booth with products covering all categories from edibles to vapes to tinctures that it is launching in the state after successful runs in other states.

Top Brands Continue to have a Presence. As more executives from traditional CPG, Food and Beverage and Alcohol enter the space, the Hall of Flowers concept of brands & buyers is familiar to executives used to going to trade shows such as Natural Products EXPO (which ironically was having its EXPO East event at the same time). Top brands in the State continued to do large activations — Cannacraft, Raw Garden, Papa & Barkley, among others.

“It was a great opportunity to see the full landscape of new and existing brands in the California market. For me, the most exciting brands to see are the ones that are creating value-added products and standing up consumer brands that are offering uniquely differentiated products. With the continued trend of flower prices dropping, I see the future of the industry lying in value-added brands. I’m excited to see how this evolves the dispensary channel and brings new demographics of shoppers into the category.” — Evelyn Wang, Papa & Barkley CEO

The Best Place to Launch New Brands and Products. Concurrent with the announcement of the Company’s $4M raise and entry into the California market, Burb set up a booth to introduce the brand to buyers and an innovation I’m pretty excited for…Beaver tail blunts. Another notable brand launching soon and taking orders at the show is Hervé (luxury French-inspired and cannabis-infused desserts), which raised $3M back in May, and is launching in California after a successful run in it’s first state (Nevada). While both Burb and Herve had already started conversations with retailers to pick up the brands at launch, Hall of Flowers allowed them to strengthen those relationships, while also building new ones. Brands like LEUNE that already have a California presence were launching new products (Rosin Gummies, Gem Drops) to overwhelming success (demand from retailers).

Hall of Flowers was a great experience for us, our first step into the California market and the crowd at the event welcomed us with open arms. It was nice to see everyone enjoying our Beaver Tail blunts and we had lots of great conversations at the show. — Burb CEO, John Kaye

Events and Parties. Events around the show (before/during/after) also proved to be very effective for companies to meet with customers/potential customers and partners. I co-hosted an event on Tuesday night before the show kicked-off at a bar in downtown Santa Rosa along with Mediajel and Rebud with a good mix of executives, investors, buyers, and brands attend. Other notable events I attended / was talked about included the Leaflink Unofficial Hall of Flowers After Party, Wonderbrett’s party included Dabs & Ice Cream, COPIA Hall of Flowers Afterparty and Cannacraft Afterparty. I thought the Sonoma Hills Farm Post HOF Unwind on Friday after the show wrapped at was a great event/idea as they were able to have the entire day to showcase the farm and flower to partners and friends. I highly recommend trying to find less competitive times in the schedule to host events (definitely not the night between Day 1 & Day 2).

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Other. Top 10 highlights from High Times. LAWeekly’s Heat List. Highlights from RMR. Tina Gordon, owner of Humboldt County-based cultivator Moon Made Farms echoed to MJBizDaily that many outdoor farmers will not survive this year.

Note: I’ll be in Vegas October 20-22 around MJUnpacked/MJBizCon, drop me a note if you want to connect while there.

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