How MedMen CMO is Pioneering Marketing for the Cannabis Hyper-growth Category

David Dancer, CMO of MedMen on CMO Moves

How do you market a category that has almost no historical consumer behavior data, no precedent on best practices, an outdated stigmatism of shame and is still illegal in many states as well as Federally?  Well, that’s exactly what David Dancer, CMO of MedMen is on a mission to do.

MedMen is one of the largest cannabis retailers globally – founded 10 years ago and valued at two billion dollars annually – but only recently opened retail stores after California legalized cannabis for adult use.  MedMen has already seen exponential growth in the short eight months with David leading the charge.  He’s creating a robust CRM system, leveraging incoming retail customer data and newly-launched qualitative studies, navigating the complexities of media outlets and publishers – all while growing his team from around 15 people to likely 50 over the next few months.

I’ve been very surprised that America is interested and ready to have a conversation about cannabis and it’s one of my jobs, as the head of marketing at MedMen, to ensure that we’re creating platforms, channels, and outlets to have that conversation. Let’s not forget cannabis is still federally illegal and so there’s a lot of complication and challenge in navigating media outlets and publishers.

David’s diverse background in financial services, regulatory, retail, ecommerce and HR make him a perfect fit for his dynamic role, but he didn’t accept the position without first talking to his personal board of directors to get their perspective. 

I was not that familiar with cannabis. I was not a cannabis customer myself. I wanted to understand my personal board of directors’ point of view of that particular industry.  Many people literally said, ‘You need to run to this job. It’s going to be such a great opportunity.’

David is also uniquely qualified to lead the psychological transformation of the category, inviting its consumers to come out of the dark shadows and find a warm, welcoming environment where they can shed any sense of shame. He’s extremely familiar with battling negative stigmas in his personal life, and now serves on the board of GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) to help create safe schools that are free of bullying and harassment for LGBTQ students.

It was a really interesting tie in for me to see that I certainly could demonstrate and use my professional skills, but also all of these skills that I have in fighting stigmatization and this feeling of shame.

Tune in to hear more from David on this fascinating new category and the unique marketing challenges he is conquering with pride.


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