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Interview: Shryne Group CMO Elisabeth Baron

November 5, 2019

Drinks industry veteran Elisabeth Baron transitioned to the cannabis category after holding a series of marketing roles with Diageo, Stillhouse Spirits, and Moët Hennessy USA, including as vice president, marketing, for Grand Marnier. In May, she was named CMO of Los Angeles-based Shryne Group, heading up marketing for the company’s Stiiizy brand of vapes, flower, and edibles as well as the development of retail operations in Los Angeles. SND’s Danny Sullivan recently spoke with Baron about Shryne’s activities and the cannabis category in general.

SND: Coming from the drinks business, how do you approach luxury branding for cannabis?

Baron: The challenge is that cannabis has been stigmatized so much. But now we have a chance to elevate the education level, talk about it as a plant with healing properties, and educate consumers on the various effects that it can provide. When I worked on Hennessy, I learned that you need to make a fine wine before you make a great Cognac, and about the process that goes into that. We need to communicate the same things on cannabis, with an emphasis on origin. There’s so much legacy culture in cannabis in Northern California, where it’s been grown for so long. It’s about the appellation, the soil, and how and where it’s cultivated, very similar to Champagne or Cognac. We need to connect those dots for consumers.

SND: Shryne now has opened Stiiizy retail stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and several more are in development. What are your goals with that push?

Baron: Our goal is to open one store a month over the next several months, expanding the Stiiizy retail brand throughout California. We have plans to open more locations in San Francisco, Davis, Modesto, Jurupa Valley, and Palm Desert, to name a few. I’m navigating the retail part by applying my knowledge of the three-tier system in wine and spirits. It’s exciting because it gives us the ability to control the experience from beginning to end for the consumer. I think back to my experience at LVMH when Sephora was breaking new ground in terms of elevating the retail experience for beauty, but still garnering mass appeal. The idea is to be aspirational and accessible to the mass market at the same time. Our downtown Los Angeles store has 6,500 square feet dedicated to retail, making it one of the largest dispensaries in the state.

SND: How do the demographics break down for the Stiiizy brand’s various products?

Baron: Generally speaking, new cannabis consumers gravitate toward edibles and smokeless experiences, and the new vape pod and flower introductions are popular across demographics. Stiiizy’s black battery vape is a mainstay, and newer products include Stiiizy Biiit and Stiiizy Liiit, which is the first disposable device from the brand. Biiit is a top seller as Stiiizy’s first edible gummy line, and is available throughout California. Liiit, sold exclusively at Stiiizy retail stores, has been doing well since its launch as the brand’s entry into selling cannabis whole flower. We’re positioning Liiit to be the best value premium flower on the market.

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