The Cookies Effect
How Cookies Built an Empire and How You Can Too.
When you stepped into the cannabis industry, what did you dream of?
Long lines waiting at your dispensary, product selling out nationwide, thousands of cult following fans across the world?
That dream is the reality for Cookies.
Cookies is one of the most successful cannabis brands in the World.
Their stores are popping up everywhere. With the recent launch in Oklahoma City, Cookies opened 4 new dispensaries in 30 days.
Berner and his team are on a worldwide spree, opening Cookies branded cannabis businesses in 5 states and 3 countries, including Spain and Israel.
With so much success, it leaves cannabis business owners everywhere wondering…
How Did They Do It?
A worldwide, industry-leading corporation always covers a few basic points:
- Great Product
- A Scalable Supply Chain
- Consistent Branding
- Marketing That Works
But Cookies goes above and beyond.
Cookies became synonymous with hype.
But the way they built their hype was calculated and unlike anything cannabis has seen.
Here’s a complete analysis of how Cookies is taking over the world, one store at a time.
If you follow the same system, you too can have people camping out waiting for your opening day.
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Understanding the Cookies effect requires an understanding of Cookies products.
Cookies is a family of some of the best geneticists in cannabis. Naturally, they have some of the best cannabis genetics in the world.
A great product is the most important part of a product-centered business.*
You can’t build a brand on high-quality flower without good flower.
Cookies created Girl Scout Cookies (GSC), one of the most popular strains to ever hit the scene. But they’re no one-hit-wonder. Since then, they created Cherry Pie, Gelato, London Pound Cake, and many more legendary strains.
It’s safe to assume that every dispensary in America has sold some form of Cookies related strain.
They have the track-record and the product to back up the attention they get.
This is the base of The Cookies Effect. Cookies had cannabis that no one had.
Their flower wowed even the most prolific smokers.
While you don’t need original genetics that you hear in popular music, but you do need a quality product.
When you try a new grower, and their flower isn’t great, are you stoked to rebuy it?
Next time you’re in the dispensary, you’re going to try something else.
But when the flower knocks your socks off, you’re going back that day to pick up more.
Before going all-in on branding and marketing campaigns, invest in your product. Great marketing will get the first purchase, but the product creates repeat business.
*Although cannabis is medicine, in legal markets, it’s treated as a consumer packaged product.
So you have a bangin’ phenotype that is blowing everyone away. You use some of the branding & marketing tactics we recommend later in this post, and you’re starting to pick up some traction.
In fact, you’re getting interest from patients in other states.
To plant your brand in other states “easily” like Cookies, you need a way to scale your production.
Cookies first bred GSC in a garage in San Francisco. Today they’re producing cannabis for over 22 branded stores and the many dispensaries they sell to.
They took their time to scale and created a sustainable supply chain that can meet their demand.
They also found a way to send their genetics to new states and set up grows with local farms.
To scale your production, you need:
- A set of concrete procedures that create the best product.
- A way to transport your genetics to other states.
- A way to reliably meet demand on a set schedule.
You know 4/20 is THE cannabis holiday, but did you know the second biggest cannabis sales day is the day before Thanksgiving? The Holiday is dubbed “Green Wednesday.”
You may need to increase production for these holidays.
It’s hard enough ramping up production in one facility, let alone multiple grows across the world.
Once you outgrow your facility, you can export all of your procedures to a bigger one (if you do it right.)
TRYM has an article/podcast on scaling a commercial grow.
Replicating Production Worldwide
Cookies doesn’t have their own grow in every state. They outsource growing their legendary genetics to high capacity local growers.
In Oklahoma, they chose Altvm.
Altvm is a cultivation and processing operation partnered with ElectraLeaf and other Oklahoma brands. They had all of the appropriate infrastructure to handle growing for Cookies in addition to their own products.
You need your own Altvm when you want to expand to a new state. The best picks are companies with a track record in the industry, an experienced operations team, and the capacity to give your products the attention they need to meet your standard.
The game plan Cookies employs isn’t much different from most multistate cannabis companies.
Every genetics company has its own special techniques and genetics they introduce to their partner in a new state. While they produce your flower, you set-up a sales team and sell to dispensaries and/or your own dispensary.
If you don’t want the hassle, distribution companies can get your products in dispensaries.
Legendary genetics and branding set Cookies apart.
But the brand is what made them who they are.
Cookies probably has the most recognizable brand in cannabis.
And they use a special set of marketing tactics to further their recognition.
But before you can tell the story (marketing), you need to write the story (branding).
What is Branding?
Branding is the look, personality, and story of your brand.
The easiest way to understand branding is to think of your brand as a person.
A person has a purpose.
A person has morals and values.
A person has unique interests, a style of dress, and a group of friends.
The person is your business, and the group of friends are your customers.
A brand is 3-dimensional. It’s more than a logo or packaging. Those things are pieces of a brand, but they aren’t the whole brand.
Good branding creates an effect on an audience that’s hard to recognize. People often can’t explain why they prefer one brand over the other. But it’s easy to tell when someone is branding well.
Good branding is how Apple gets people like me to pay $1000+ for an iPhone. I can easily buy an android for cheaper with functionality the iPhone won’t have for years. But I buy the iPhone.
When I type, I don’t even capitalize android, but I type iPhone as intended.
Good branding is how Cookies can sell Oklahoma-grown flower for $55 an eighth while the average shop sells it for $30 – $45.
Do you want to make $15 more for every eighth you sell?
If you do, you need to build a brand.
If you don’t, that’s ok. You still need a brand.
Good branding will help you survive the crowded market.
Here’s a high-level look at how to build your brand.
How To Build Your Brand
Branding starts with research. You need to know your market inside-out. Building a brand is a lot like creating a person that would be best friends with your ideal customer. To pass all of their “friend tests,” you need to know what they care about.
MedPharm, a dispensary in Broken Arrow, gives 30% of its proceeds to animals in need. They’re also one of the highest and most reviewed dispensaries in the Tulsa area.
What you believe in matters.
You figure out what your business believes in when you create a brand strategy
Branding is made up of two pieces.
- A Brand Strategy
- A Brand Identity.
Your brand strategy is your personality and your story. A good brand strategy covers the following:
- Brand Archetype: A starting base of your brand. There are 12 brand archetypes that follow a set of characteristics. You can pick one to speed up your process or mix and match a few different ones.
- Promise: What you promise to achieve with your brand’s existence.
- Mission: What you do to achieve our vision.
- Vision: Your wildest dreams coming true.
- Positioning: A formulaic paragraph that explains your business simply.
- 3 Brand Pillars: The three main values your brand is built on.
- Voice: The tone you take when speaking on behalf of the brand.
This is the foundation of a solid brand strategy.
Cookies found a way to stick to the industry’s roots while systemizing their production like a corporation.
Their brand kept them “for the people” while being one of the most corporate cannabis companies.
Your Identity is your look. Most people throw a logo on a hat and say they have a brand.
But you don’t want to do that if you want to stand out.
A good brand identity covers:
- Proper Logo Uses
You can also add textures and design elements to your brand identity.
When building your brand identity, consult your brand strategy. You want to design for the same people. If you build your brand for veterans, using female-focused design won’t work.
A good brand is original. Cookies is one-of-a-kind. It’s not a copy of another brand.
Being inspired is not copying. Uber took what Lyft built, and did it in a unique way. Uber quickly set the trend and opened the world to ride sharing.
Get inspired by your favorite brands in other industries.
If you’re clueless about brand-building, here’s an easy way to build your brand.
Figure out which brands are similar to yours and do what they do but in cannabis.
Fill in the blank: I’m the ______ of cannabis.
Cookies is the Supreme of cannabis.
A lifestyle clothing brand built on an aspirational lifestyle.
Much like Supreme, Cookies’ cultural relevance, celebrity endorsements, and brand let them charge high prices.
They take a similar approach to cannabis as Supreme takes to clothing. But they do it in an original way.
The best part of it all: They have the support of the same community.
When you create your brand, try to include pieces from brands your audience already likes.
Then put your twist on it.
Brand Equity - Your Greatest Asset
Oversimplified: Brand Equity is the value of your brand aside from your assets.
THIS IS WHERE COOKIES MAKES THEIR MONEY.
If your flower is good, but no one knows you, you’re not selling it for $60 an eighth.
When your flower is good, and EVERYONE knows you, they will camp out the day before your shop opens to buy an eighth for $60.
Cookies’ greatest asset is their 10+ years of time to build brand equity.
People from Oklahoma had heard of Cookies for years before they even arrived.
Because they got in early, they captured a piece of fast-growing market.
Lucky for you, it’s still really early into the cannabis market.
If you focus on brand equity now, when new states legalize, their patients will be waiting for you to arrive.
This is The Cookies Effect.
Marketing is the last major-piece to Cookies world takeover plan.
Cookies built an amazing brand but found creative ways to mobilize their brand in the market place.
Speaking To The Culture
It’s clear from the beginning Cookies was a brand for the culture. Berner is a rapper, after all.
He created a marketing strategy to fit his trendy, youthful target market perfectly.
Every marketing tactic they executed fit their brand and appealed to their audience.
Do the same with your audience. Targeted marketing tactics are the only ones that work.
If you have a vape company focused on women 45+, then hosting Smoke out concerts would be a waste of money.
It’s easy to say “my product is for everybody,” and put out advertisements that speak to a general audience.
When you do that, you don’t speak to anyone directly, and no one buys your products.
This is a problem for the majority of CBD companies that popped up in 2018, and for the majority of cannabis companies in Oklahoma.
The Celebrity Effect
Cookies is Berner and Berner is Cookies.
Berner’s face was connected to Cookies from the beginning. Google Cookies and you’ll see him. Scroll their Instagram, and he appears frequently.
Berner showing face makes the brand seem so much more personal. You don’t always feel like a brand with nearly 750,000 followers is trying to sell you weed and hoodies.
You feel like someone you know and trust is updating you on their personal life.
Giving your brand a human face breaks the corporate barrier.
When you directly connect with the audience, they start to feel like you’re a close friend. Even though they don’t know you, they trust you.
Then they buy your products.
Berner used his music career to further expose his weed brand and vice versa. His legendary genetics helped him dive deeper into hip-hop through the bonding power of good weed.
Berner’s was a win on 3 fronts.
His music career gets him 1.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify. He has songs with Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Damien Marley, Chris Brown, and many more huge artists.
His Cookies Brand became solidified as THE hype brand of cannabis.
His personal brand ensures that he has a career in cannabis for the rest of his life.
You don’t need to rap or post selfies on Instagram. You can show the day-to-day of your operation and some of the faces behind the flower to create this effect.
Distribution is the SINGLE MOST important sales & marketing tactic in cannabis.
Read that line again.
Dispensaries and deliveries have all of the power.
A few brands in California are going direct to consumer with their own delivery.
Outside of them, dispensaries & deliveries are how all consumers get their cannabis.
Cannabis isn’t like any other industry where you can directly sell your product to the consumer.
The dispensaries are the grand middle-man. They’re a place where cannabis companies sell to customers, but it’s done through a licensed and secure dispensary.
So having your product in the right dispensaries will naturally increase your sales.
A brand like Cookies is selective about which dispensaries they work with. They pick a few high-end locations in each area. This helps them keep their prices high.
The perception of higher quality is a big factor in the price and a small, quality dispensary base helps keep that perception.
The Cookies clothing line is another stream of income that allows them to extend their reach worldwide. If you live in Georgia and can’t buy legal weed, you can buy a t-shirt online.
Then you can buy some knock-off Cookies from your dealer in Atlanta with the Amazon bags.
(Don’t buy knock-off Cookies.)
This is how Cookies started their push in Barcelona.
They recognized the opportunity in Spain and landed a clothing store in downtown Barcelona.
3-months later, they started their social club.
What does this mean for you?
Find other ways to grow brand equity and generate revenue outside of weed.
Sell your products online. eCommerce opens the door to the world for your business.
You can earn worldwide revenue while building brand equity. If people start seeing your brand years before your cannabis products arrive there, you’ll have loyal customers on day one once you launch.
Cookies has become a revenue generating, data-collecting giant.
Cash is always king, and data is future money.
You just have to work your data.
The top cannabis companies build a big digital strategy to supplement their sales and dispensary marketing tactics.
They do so using the following tactics.
Website: Your Home Base
Let’s take a look at Cookies website backend.
When you scroll through the list of technology they use, you see important invisible money makers.
- Email Collection
- Marketing Automation
- Facebook Pixels
- Paid Advertising
- Data Collection
- Social Media Integrations
That’s a lot so let’s break down the important things you can start implementing today.
Email marketing is your direct line to your buyers.
If you have a quality list of emails from people who want to hear from you, your email marketing system is free money. Just send out a good offer, and you’ll generate sales.
We helped a client send 2 emails and make over $1,800 with an email list of a few thousand.
You can do it too.
But you need to build a list of buyers who want to hear from you first.
Cookies SF clothing website collects emails in 2 ways.
- From their orders
- From website visitors that enter their email addresses
They offer nothing in exchange. People willingly sign-up to know when new products come out.
You don’t need an online sales platform to benefit from email marketing.
Tell your email list when you enter new dispensaries and when you drop new products.
You’ll build your hype and start your own snowball effect.
Cookies is collecting much more data through their analytics software.
When you correctly set-up your analytics, you can know exactly WHO your audience is, what they click on, and what they enjoy.
It’s scary how much data you can collect.
But you don’t need a government agency’s level of data; you just need enough to increase your sales.
Cookies also have pixels on their website.
Pixels let you send paid ads directly to your website viewers.
They have a separate website for their online sales so they can send ads through Facebook.
If you’re a cannabis product with nothing else, you can’t run paid ads on Facebook.
But there’s hope.
This is a little secret from the CBD side of our agency.
There are ad networks that let you run paid cannabis ads.
They’re a collection of websites that let you run ads much like Google. Only these websites have consented to publishing cannabis ads on their website.
You can target by demographic, location, and so much more.
These ad networks have their own pixels, so you can directly target people who visited your website in the past.
This works best for dispensaries and brands running specials at specific shops.
Last but definitely not least is Cookies’ social media machine.
At the time this article was written, Cookies has 717,000 Instagram followers.
They’ve built a worldwide cannabis community. Inside that community are cult fans who will buy anything cookies related.
They have fans all over the world waiting for their chance to try Cookies. Atlanta is a city overrun by knock-off Cookies even though their musicians were the first to put the brand on an international stage.
The day Cookies opens a flagship store in Atlanta might be their biggest revenue-generating day of the year.
How To Use Social Media To Create Hype
There are a thousand ways to build hype—the more unique and creative while appealing to your audience, the better.
Most brands choose to tease new products and showcase the lifestyle of their brand.
Social media can be broken down into 1 simple phrase:
Sell without selling.
You should only be doing 2 things on social media.
Educating and entertaining.
The more entertainment value you add to your social media, the greater your following will become.
Using subtle tones, you can suggest your followers check-out your products.
You should very rarely directly tell someone to buy your stuff.
That’s where most brands fail.
They only promote their products and try to sell. They don’t make you laugh. They don’t help you learn.
They come across as a greedy business in a social setting.
There will never be another Cookies. People will take the blueprint and try to do the same.
But Cookies invented hype weed.
From social media, to the countless song mentions, Cookies built a one-of-a-kind platform for their legendary genetics.
They turned Girl Scout Cookies into a multinational cannabis corporation without completely losing industry support.
Now every dispensary in America has their genetics somewhere in their lineup.
They used cannabis hype, A.K.A. The Cookies Effect to do it.
If you add the tactics from this blog to your business, you can use The Cookies Effect to build yourself a successful, long-term cannabis brand.
Cookies have been pushing since 2010.
If you start today you might find similar success in 2025. Since the blueprint exists, you can implement it faster than ever.
If You Want to Create The Cookies Effect
We can help you do that! Our team has helped some of the largest cannabis companies in the world hone in their branding and marketing strategies.
We’ve used The Cookies Effect to build long-term businesses in cannabis.
If you want to see people lining up outside of your 22nd dispensary in 10 years, let’s chat!
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