Karezza’s exclusive pop-up at 99 High Tide Collective on July 20 was a chance for consumers to check out game-changing cannabis-based products for sexual health and wellness. During the party, we talked to RISE Life Science USA general manager Ryan Rocca on the future of the industry, what consumers are looking for, and why California is an incredible market for marijuana.
Why did you decide to get into the cannabis industry?
Being in the consumer products space and the beverage and spirits space, we saw that functional beverages and functional products actually require a full experience to market effectively to consumers.
As cannabis brands began their first marketing attempts, I saw that if cannabis ever became legal, it would be a truly “experiential” product that would align well with music, art, and fashion.
It truly is a lifestyle product.
Where do you see the cannabis industry heading?
We see how the cannabis industry is constantly regulated — similar to the liquor and spirits space.
With the way we are organized, and our experience with consumer goods in retail, we are very well positioned to handle this type of product, just as we do with other adult-use consumer products.
The industry will continue to be controlled, and we can help with the overall education for consumers on the benefits of cannabis, so that it can become a well-understood recreational product.
We are well-positioned in the market to work with traditional retail as the landscape shifts further. We’ve strategized a focus on CBD products so that they can also be sold at wellness, fitness and vitamin shops, and the more we engage with consumers and educate, the better the outcome will be.
As the cannabis marketplace matures, what changes will those creating products have to make to keep up with consumers?
Consumers want products that actually taste good with desired effects or functions. They want great experiences.
With the ability to produce products to meet specific consumer needs, education and dosing information is critical. Consumer education at the retail level, as well as online, is key.
Early adopters, like coaches or trainers, will help support the marketplace for cannabis products, so we will see more influential support coming in. But it’s on the consumer to let us know what they need and want. They really are the best indicator of market needs.
Today’s consumer is accustomed to having products delivered directly — selecting which blends or formulas work for them, and expecting customization. Consumers want immediate results, affordability, and ultimately something they can trust. Having the same products from a trusted source — like the same lab producing your products — is critical for consistency and trust.
What makes California such a unique market for cannabis?
California is a massive market, and we’re also in close vicinity to the first legal states: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada.
For lifestyle products, wellness products, and consumer goods of all kinds, California is the birthplace. There are over ten large sub-regions or markets that make up the marketplace — each has its own specifications, needs, and regional preferences.
California really is the epicenter when it comes to both technology and lifestyle innovation. For me, being born and raised in California, it’s in my blood. We truly get it and understand the lifestyle. Living and working in Malibu, it’s the breeding ground for total wellness and finding that higher ground. It’s a mix of town and country, with nature at your back door and the ocean right in front of you.
What advice do you have for newcomers to the cannabis industry?
As a consumer marketer and not a cultivator or grower, it’s really unique to see where this industry started and where it is headed.
I’m impressed by how the industry is growing with so many different products, different delivery systems, and very different effects. It will need education, and most importantly flexibility, with all of the shifts and changes happening every day. If you’re not flexible or open for change — and lots of it — then the cannabis industry is not for you!
With the many executives getting involved, it’s becoming more professional. All products will be treated like consumer products: tiered and categorized differently with different percentages and effects, which will demand a lot of attention and analysis.
Testing and regulations to assure that product is top quality and meets regulatory standards will become well understood, which is essential. It’s not really “if you grow it, they’ll buy it” anymore.
How do you see the relationship between cannabis and sex?
There has always been a historical connection. The whole process of ‘sharing a puff’ with your partner that relaxes and enhances, then often leads to sexual activity or exploratory sensual engagement. There is a naturally strong relationship.
Now, with more sophisticated methods and ingredients, there are new and improved ways of strengthening the positive relationship with cannabis and sex naturally, and support sexual and reproductive body systems.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.