You might call it “the big Bhang,” because it is expanding. The Miami-based company Bhang sells more than 100 cannabis and hemp-related items including CBD chocolate bars, pre-rolls (joints) and vaping devices, online and in 1,000 shops in ten countries. Bhang founder Scott Van Rixel is trying to build a worldwide brand in the nascent legal cannabis industry and the company went public this month on the Canadian Stock Exchange.
Van Rixel, a trained chef who has worked with upscale retailers like Dean and Deluca and Whole Foods, started the company in 2010 after touring a marijuana edibles maker in California. “Cannabis edibles were sold in zip-lock bags without a nutritional fact panel or indication of dosing consistency,” he said. Seeing opportunity in both the legal cannabis market and in high-quality consistent production, he began his venture.
From the start, the team at Bhang identified multiple customer segments and designed brands based on those groups’ needs. “The 22-year-old first time cannabis user and the 67-year-old medical patient are looking for a different experience,” said Van Rixel. Today, the company operates eight brands under the Bhang umbrella including THC, CBD and terpene products.
Van Rixel looks at new product development through three lenses. The first is through macro trends like wellness and the desire for natural ingredients. The company closely watches the leaders in the beauty and wellness market, which have access to large research budgets, to see what types of products they are creating. Bhang also tracks cannabis product and ingredient trends, for example a new focus on terpenes, a component of hemp and marijuana. Lastly, Van Rixel says, as a chef, “I focus a lot of our in-house research on global flavor profile trends across various demographics.”
Currently the company is launching three new brands based on its research and using its products to provide a foothold “into more countries across the world,” said Van Rixel. One newly announced partnership, with Oceana Coffee, will create CBD coffee products produced under the new Bhang brand “Röst,” and terpene coffee products under a brand called “Cosmic Terp.”
The company has an “aggressive growth-by-acquisition strategy including strategic acquisitions and joint ventures with manufacturers who are the experts and market leaders in new consumer segments,” said Van Rixel. Bhang is hoping to sell its products in 2000+ brick and mortar locations, including two new states, and expand into Asia he said.
Challenges in this developing marketplace abound of course, including the inconsistent laws and regulations between the states and the lack of banking availability. Van Rixel remains hopeful though that there will be, “full federal legalization in the U.S. and more widely across the globe.”
Van Rixel says his company mantra is “doing it right” and believes in the importance of building strong relationships with customers by delivering products “that do exactly what we say they will.” Building on nearly a decade of trust, he said, can help his company succeed.