Unlike MJBizCon 2021, in 2020, MJBizCon was forced to pivot due to the pandemic and hosted its first ever virtual cannabis conference experience. This year, MJBizCon was back with a bang and hosted more than 30,000 in-person attendees. Team Silver Leaf CBC decided to pack its bags and head for the bright lights of Las Vegas to hear all about the industry’s latest and greatest. While making the rounds in the exhibitors’ hall, team Silver Leaf was afforded the opportunity to press the flesh with former teammate, Alex Glueckler. Post event, we chatted with Alex to ask him his top takeaways from this year’s event. When he was with Silver Leaf, Alex always liked to write a post mortem on his experience and share it to the Silver Leaf CBC blog, so it’s only fitting to ask him to share his thoughts with us.
Please check out Alex’s MJBizCon 2021 recap below.
It’s still the biggest event in the industry
Everyone attends and the industry’s growth in each state is driving continued excitement for people to get into the space. The event itself is growing to match the growth of new companies, products and services. MJBizCon 2021 boasted more than 140 speakers, 1,000+ exhibitors, 250,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, and another keynote speaker from Shark Tank—Daymond John (Kevin O’Leary took the stage in 2018).
MJBizCon faces an identity problem (but that is more because of the industry growth)
When MJBizCon began, the industry wasn’t quite big enough or mature enough to host success-focused events. Now, the market may be too big or diverse for a “one event for all” event. People still attend—but not necessarily for the expo. In my experience, the past few years had less emphasis on the expo event and put more weight on hosting meetings off-site (nearby hotels or evening events). However, due to the sheer volume of attendees, MJBizCon is still a great event for face-to-face meetings and networking to work out deals and opportunities. In a recent article from MG Retailer, they identified the event as a “picks and shovels” expo where “people ‘attend’ without attending” and where consumer brands are starting to break away— and it shows.
Another industry conference, MJ Unpacked, took place at Mandalay Bay during the same week, but with a focus on consumer brands and investors. MG Retailer suggests a “cannabis week” evolution may just be what happens or needs to happen for the experience to evolve. This concept would be a great way to attract people from various aspects of the cannabis space to the same area or event, while keeping a focus on the necessary meetings, speakers, and discussions pertinent to their company’s current strategy.
A multi-tiered event or “cannabis week” could offer an opportunity for more focused conventions that capitalize on having a captive audience in the same town. It opens the door to the idea of hosting multiple conventions catering to different areas of business simultaneously in various areas of the Strip.
Social equity and going mainstream are a big focus
The cannabis industry expects to hit more than $26B in 2021, and $45B+ in 2025. With such tremendous growth, the industry isn’t losing sight of an opportunity to ensure all get a fair shot—rather than letting large MSOs bulldoze their way through. Here are two examples:
- Offering license issuance and breaking down policy barriers to those that may otherwise not have a path to get in.
- Non-profits to assure those impacted by the War on Drugs campaign (1970s) have a path forward in life.
Continued growth is expected from more state legalization, new products, and general social acceptance. We are seeing more brands trying to appeal to the mainstream in an effort to reach growth market segments. With social acceptance comes a drive for more efficient delivery of sales and effective solutions for companies to optimize the ability to market new products and services.
At last year’s event, MJBizDaily (the host of MJBizCon) proved that the cannabis industry can react quickly to change and make it work. It will be interesting to see how MJBizDaily will react in the planning of its 2022 event experience.