A cannabis offshoot of Jones Soda, Mary Jones
Source: Jones Soda
Meet Mary Jones, a new Jones Soda brand featuring cannabis-infused sodas, gums and syrups.
It’s a bold move for the publicly traded company best known for its craft soda, but its relatively small size means it may feel like it can take risks that bigger competitors Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are shy to try.
Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, and alcoholic beverage manufacturers are wary of crossing that line. The closest Pepsi has come to is the recent launch of a line of Rockstar energy drinks infused with hemp, though hemp seeds don’t have dramatic effects when consumed.
Alcohol companies use cannabinoids to a greater extent. Brewing company Corona Constellation Brands owns a stake in cannabis company Canopy Growth, and Molson Coors sells CBD drinks made through a joint venture.
In 2021, Jones Soda generated $14.8 million in revenue, less than 0.04% of Coke’s full-year revenue. The market value of the company is $37.3 million and the shares are trading at 55 cents.
“We are a small player in the carbonated drinks market, but we are going to be the biggest national player when it comes to brand recognition. [consumer-packaged goods] name in cannabis,” Jones Soda marketing director Bob Blair said in an interview.
The launch also follows a broader trend in the beverage industry blurring the lines between different categories. Pepsi is converting its Mountain Dew soda into Hard Mtn Dew, and Anheuser-Busch’s InBev Bud Light Seltzer launched a strong soda variety in December.
On April 1, Mary Jones will launch in California, where the legal cannabis market is about $4 billion. Nearly a third of California adults shop at pharmacies, Blair says, creating a huge market for their products.
While Californians are often perceived as health-conscious consumers who prefer green juice over soda, Blair said existing low-dose, light-tasting cannabis drinks have left the door open for consumers who want a cannabis drink. filled with fragrance.
“Health claims are not our fairness, but full taste,” Blair said. “We had some conversations early on: Should we add CBD to this? And no, that’s not who we are.”
“If we hack it in California, we’re going to have a gang fight as we move through the Midwest and East,” he added.
The initial launch will feature four different product lines: 12-ounce soda bottles filled with 10 milligrams of cannabis; 16-ounce soda cans filled with 100 milligrams of cannabis; syrup intended to be mixed with other drinks or food containing 1,000 milligrams of cannabis per bottle; and gummies filled with five milligrams of cannabis, in the form of mini bottles of Jones soda.
The company has big plans. It aims to expand in all states where adults are allowed to use cannabis and – eventually – across the country.
“We have been implementing all of these elements since we announced our intention to create a cannabis division last July, and we fully expect the brand to deliver sustainable strategic growth for the company,” said CEO Mark Murray.
The decision to switch to cannabis came as Jones was working on expanding his portfolio beyond soda. Blair said the company is confident it will pay off given Jones Soda’s playful and recognizable branding, popular flavors that will work with cannabis, and potential appeal to new consumers.
“Most of the cannabis category is leaves, but it’s the legacy part of the category, the mature part,” Blair said. “If you look at new cannabis users, people who want to bring it to a party or eat it with meals, a lot of them are turning to drinks and edibles. And it turns out that they are not so easy to make. .”
But selling cannabis, even where it’s legal, comes with its own challenges. Jones Soda is betting that its experience as an independent soda company will also be used to distribute cannabis-infused products. The company is already familiar with work from state to state.
In California, the products will be sold at dispensaries, where the company says it’s unlikely to be confused with cannabis-free versions of Jones’ drinks.
The company also tried to design the Mary Jones packaging to bridge the line between capitalizing on Jones Soda’s brand awareness and making it unusual enough to send a message to consumers. The logo uses the same font as for the word “Jones”, but the “N” is reversed. To comply with local regulations, products have dosages in larger print than any other claims.
The name itself is a play on “Mary Jane”, a common nickname for marijuana.
“Coke has Diet Coke and people get 100% of it,” Blair said. “So we qualified Jones with Mary Jones.”