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Are “Express” Models Good or Bad?

There has been some talk recently about some of the retail models emerging in the cannabis industry. While some retailers who have invested in traditional retail models, with a robust team of budtenders and a large footprint, criticize kiosk or value models for encouraging a race to the bottom for cannabis prices, the brands that utilize them say they are merely giving customers what they want.

Are these retailers challenging the status quo or boldly undercutting the competition?

Shaking Up A “Homogenous” Industry?

Last week, Superette announced its new “express” retail concept, unveiling Sip ‘N’ Smoke, a cafeteria-style shopping experience with a corner store aesthetic located next to a popular park. The less-than-700-square-foot kiosk only serves pre-rolls and infused beverages, intended to be enjoyed at the park.


“‘Express’ doesn’t just mean a smaller footprint, it means an opportunity to rethink curation, customer journey and all retail principles that seem to get forgotten when we talk about cannabis,” said Drummond Munro, Chief Brand Officer for Superette. “In an industry that has become more and more homogenous every day, Sip ‘N’ Smoke is another way Superette continues to move the industry forward.”

In addition to easy to consume, on-the-go cannabis products, the walk-up, European outdoor kiosk-inspired shop sells “park-ready lifestyle items” including Superette branded portable speakers, blankets, bottle openers and totes.

The brand’s design has always been rooted in being “the antithesis of sterile cannabis retail”. Is this an ingenious smaller-footprint retail model, or a cheap shot at snagging customers from competitors?

According to Superette, “build[ing] an emotional connection with consumers through hyperlocal elements and an immersive, gamified shopping experience has quickly become the global gold standard for the evolution of cannabis retail.”

Value-Conscious Consumer Segment

Quickly growing Nova Cannabis and its retail brand Value Buds have drawn its fair share of grumbling, as well. Now with 60 stores and more in development, the brand hopes to have more than 85 Value Buds branded stores by the end of the year. With a simple store design and one gimmick—low prices—Value Buds attracts a certain type of customer.

“Value Buds is clearly resonating with Alberta cannabis consumers and drawing customers from the illicit market as well as legal cannabis retailers,” says Darren Karasiuk, CEO of Nova Cannabis. “We expect the same response in Ontario as we accelerate our pace of openings in Canada’s largest market.”

For those of us that are trying to migrate our business from the legacy market to the legal market, it can be frustrating to not be able to purchase the quantity of cannabis at the price we are used to, and the value model of cannabis retail allows legacy consumers to more easily transition to the legacy market by solving this issue.

Retail models such as these exist plentifully in other industries—Costco doesn’t necessarily negate specialty grocery stores or health food stores, for instance. While price is certainly an important factor for consumers when choosing which cannabis store they frequent the most, it’s not the only factor. As more consumer data is collected and released, we are learning that cannabis consumers are as varied as the products themselves. In an industry with such a diverse customer base, there is a niche for every cannabis store, you just have to find it.

Tags: Canadian cannabis retail (13), Cannabis Industry (183), Cannabis Retail (394), Cannabis Retail Store (47), Nova Cannabis (14), Superette (8), Value Buds (14)