Last month Courtney Trop launched Stevie, a cannabis brand piggy backing off her fashion blog Always Judging.

In 2014, Emily Weiss launched Glossier, a cosmetics brand built off of her cosmetics review blog Intothegloss.com.

In 2018, Buzz Feed launched their Tasty product line. Using their following and content to commercialize.

The Emerald Cup launched Emerald Supply Co. after running the largest cannabis event for years.

Highsnobiety.com is a lifestyle blog turned marketplace.

And, most people know the story of Kylie Jenner and her brand, Kylie Cosmetics.

Notice a trend here? This isn't by accident. The future of brands are built on audiences first. Since the advent of social media, consumers are engaging with content differently and that is changing the way brands are built. This is not necessarily something new. Famous people have been launching brands for years. But, the internet has allowed the creation of micro-communities. Allowing highly targeted, highly relevant, extremely personalized products to be made around these audiences.

The explosion of micro-communities is a testament to human nature. We're social beings that are influenced by our backgrounds, demographics, and experiences. We WANT to belong to a community of like minded people. Therefore it is the logical progression of brand building to leverage this capability now available to us.

This concept of audience first is depicted by Web Smith, founder of 2pm. He calls it the Law of Linear Commerce. Here's his explanation:

The Law of Linear Commerce is the prioritization of audience. Product manufacturers typically seek to outsource demand generation. Brands, that are ahead of the curve, emphasize their audience’s growth as much as they do their physical product’s development. Likewise, digital media publishers that follow linear commerce principles prioritize organic and loyal audience growth over SEO or PPC-driven commodity clicks.

The current crisis is speeding up the change to audience first. We're seeing brands focus on two things right now.

  1. Profitability. VC subsidized growth at all costs will no longer be popular.
  2. Community building. AKA building an audience.

An audience first approach builds the foundation for success in a digital world. A highly engaged audience means less ad spend and lower acquisition costs. It means loyalty and higher LTV. It means your product launches are relevant with higher chances of success.

What this means for cannabis

Cannabis brands always have it harder. It's the cost of being a pioneer. The audience first approach is even more relevant for cannabis brands. With an audience, comes demand. With demand, comes leverage and options. With an audience you can be a brand first, cannabis company second. You can launch products that are horizontal to your brand. Clothing, accessories, etc. With demand you can enter any dispensary and immediately have the edge in getting your product on the shelves.

In this new world, you can't afford to rely on the old methods. You can't launch your brand to crickets and hope money will solve the problem. You need to find your community. Build your audience. Then launch products that are highly relevant to your audience.


Headquarters is a brand accelerator helping the next generation of cannabis brands launch, grow, and scale in California and beyond.

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