With the new year approaching, I look back to 2023 with pride—not just for the many accomplishments of my team, but for the cannabis industry as a whole. We survived another year, everyone. That’s something that can only be done with strong teams, collaborative spirit, and the aptly chosen 2023 Merriam-Webster word of the year: authentic.

When I saw that the 2023 word of the year for Merriam-Webster dictionary (a frequently visited resource for those of us in the communications field) was “authentic,” I felt a wave of hope. This powerful word wasn’t selected at random or because the dictionary staff felt it appropriate. “Authentic” rose to the top because of the volume of searches it received. It’s part of the collective conscience.

Authenticity applies to cannabis now more than ever. Brands, agencies, and every business in between can’t survive off of big words alone. The days of self aggrandizing are behind us.  Consumers, investors, and collaborators are supporting companies that are genuine and personable—and those are the players that will survive in the long run.

Quiet conversations

We are all busy trying to get our story out there to a larger audience. It’s how business is made. But what sets authentic businesses apart is the conversations made without an audience.

Even at large industry events, many of us leave feeling the best about the quiet, one-on-one conversations carried out with other members of the community. The chance to really get to know the names behind the brands makes a huge difference in relationship building. Whether it’s MJBizCon, Lucky Leaf, or MITA, these events allow us to have one-on-one conversations and build relationships with industry players around the world.

Honest claims

As the industry has matured over the years, it’s become easier to see through inauthentic claims. Being the biggest and the best doesn’t mean much in a saturated market.

What does have meaning is compelling and true stories. Sharing the real-life tales of finding relief for patients, bonding with friends and family without alcohol, and replacing cigarettes or even opioids with cannabis are just some ways authenticity shines in this community and helps brands achieve longevity.

Straying from sales pitches

There’s a time and place for everything, including sales pitches. If your go-to is to pitch anyone who will give you the time of day, you’re not going to see a good return.

Fortunately, the industry seems to have figured this out. Relationships need time to blossom and grow. We can plant seeds through LinkedIn conversations, emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings. Over time, the work we put in to make genuine connections will blossom into something bigger and better. It’s why staying in one another’s orbit, celebrating wins, and offering support is so meaningful.

Collaboration over competition

The cannabis industry has room for us all. While friendly competition is a necessity and keeps us all operating at a higher standard, we can also make room for collaboration.

Brands with similar values and missions can use this to their advantage through collaboration, getting their message out to a larger audience while celebrating their unique individual qualities. When Jeeter paired up with Highsman to release a football-themed box and limited-edition apparel, both brands garnered attention from a larger audience and created something bigger than either could have created alone.

In the year ahead

In Merriam-Webster’s announcement for the 2023 word of the year, the company stated that, “although clearly a desirable quality, authentic is hard to define and subject to debate — two reasons it sends many people to the dictionary.”

Authenticity can be hard to define, and striving to “look authentic” can have the opposite effect if done only on a surface level. It’s why the most successful players in the industry right now are the ones who have been true to themselves since day one. These are the companies we will see continue to succeed in 2024 and beyond.

I don’t know what the next word of the year will be quite yet, but I do know that I will be carrying “authentic” with me through all of Proven Media’s endeavors next year. May we all succeed and celebrate one another’s wins in 2024!

Published On: March 11th, 2024 / Categories: Blog /