The cannabis offshoot of Jones Soda, Mary Jones
Source: Jones Soda
Check out Mary Jones, Jones Soda’s new brand that will feature cannabis-infused sodas, gummies and syrups.
It’s a bold step for the publicly-listed company, which is best known for its craft soda, but its relatively small size means it may feel like it can take more risks than big rivals Coca-Cola. and PepsiCo are reluctant to try.
Cannabis is still federally illegal, and beverage giants are reluctant to cross that line. The closest Pepsi has come is its recent launch of a line of hemp-infused Rockstar energy drinks, although hemp seeds don’t have dramatic effects when consumed.
Alcohol companies have embraced cannabinoids more. Brewer Corona Constellation Brands owns a stake in cannabis company Canopy Growth, while Molson Coors sells CBD-infused beverages made through a joint venture.
For 2021, Jones Soda reported revenue of $14.8 million, less than 0.04% of Coke’s revenue for the full year. The company has a market value of $37.3 million and trades at 55 cents per share.
“We’re a small player in soda, but we’re going to be the biggest national player when it comes to a recognizable [consumer-packaged goods] name in cannabis,” Jones Soda marketing director Bohb Blair said in an interview.
The launch also follows a broader trend within the beverage industry that is blurring the lines between different categories. Pepsi turns its Mountain Dew soda into alcohol with Hard Mtn Dew, while Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Bud Light Seltzer launched a hard soda variety in December.
Mary Jones will first launch in California, which has a legal cannabis market of approximately $4 billion. According to Blair, nearly a third of adult Californians shop at dispensaries, creating a huge market for his products.
While Californians are often stereotyped as health-conscious consumers who prefer green juice over soda, Blair said existing cannabis drinks — made with a low dosage and light flavor — have left the door open for consumers who want a flavorful cannabis drink.
“Health claims aren’t our fairness, it’s all flavor,” Blair said. “We had a few conversations early on: Should we put CBD in there? And no, that’s not who we are.
“If we break it in California, we’re going to gangbuster it across the Midwest and East,” he added.
The initial launch will include four different product lines: 12-ounce soda bottles infused with 10 milligrams of cannabis; 16-ounce cans of soda infused with 100 milligrams of cannabis; syrup designed to be mixed with other drinks or on food with 1000 milligrams of cannabis per bottle; and five-milligram cannabis-infused gummies, shaped like mini bottles of Jones Soda.
The company has even bigger plans. It’s looking to expand into every state where it’s legal for adults to use cannabis, and eventually nationwide.
“We have put all of these elements in place since we announced our intention to create a cannabis division last July, and we expect the brand to deliver solid strategic growth for the business,” said CEO Mark. Murray in a statement.
The decision to branch out into cannabis came as Jones worked to expand his portfolio beyond soda. Blair said the company is confident it will pay off, given Jones Soda’s playful and recognizable brand, popular flavors that will work with cannabis, and potential appeal to new consumers.
“A lot of the cannabis category is leaf, but that’s the inherited part of the category, the mature part,” Blair said. “If you look at the new cannabis consumer, people who want to bring it to a party or eat it in a meal, a lot of them are turning to drinks and edibles. is not so easy to do.”
But selling cannabis, even where it’s legal, comes with its own set of challenges. Jones Soda is betting its expertise as an independent soda company will also translate into distributing cannabis-infused products. Society is already used to operating state by state.
In California, the products will be sold at dispensaries, where the company says they are unlikely to be confused with cannabis-free versions of Jones’ drinks.
The company also tried to design Mary Jones’ packaging to straddle the line between gaining recognition from the Jones Soda brand and making it different enough as a signal to consumers. The logo uses the same font for “Jones”, but with the “N” upside down. In accordance with local regulations, the products have the dosage in larger print than any other claim.
The name itself is a play on “Mary Jane”, a common nickname for marijuana.
“Coke has Diet Coke, and people get 100 percent,” Blair said. “So we qualified Jones with Mary Jones.”