The Power of Differentiation:

How Emerging Market Entrepreneurs Can Stand Out in the Pre-Roll Category

Have aspirations to launch the next big pre-roll brand? You’ll need more than just choice bud and an aesthetic logo.

Pairing the Blackbird with classic competitive strategy concepts can help you differentiate your cannabis brand and protect the world from sub-par joint sessions. Read more.

Roll Like The Pros: Level the Playing Field Against Big Money

Dream of disrupting the modern toke ritual? As the demand for pre-rolls continues to soar, it’s clearly worth pursuing the potential revenue. New trends lead to increased competition in any industry, so how do you develop the right competitive strategy to differentiate your pre-roll brand from competitors, new and old?

Even though budgets are tight, brands that invest capital in tools that create a smoking experience that differentiates them from the average pre-roll joint can set themselves as the leaders in this rapidly-growing product category.

Uncover how new pre-roll brands can use time-tested competitive strategy concepts to differentiate and transform their business into the next big pre-roll brand.

Don’t Be a Sheep: Why You Shouldn’t Copy Competitors

“It’s always been done this way” is one of the most dangerous phrases for businesses of any size. Even more so if you are just getting started. If you are creating a brand that is just a variation of what brand XYZ down the street has done, you are going to have to likely compromise on price. Then it’s a race to the bottom.

It can be tempting to look around and see what competitors are doing and copy them to shortcut your way to significant market share. The problem with that strategy is do you really know if they are doing it right? Candidly, most brands are doing it wrong. If you copy a poor product idea, do you know what you get? Another poor product. Focus on what makes you different from the competition and lean into it. Is it your packaging? Is it sun-grown flower with unique flavors and effects?

The Assumption Curse: Forget What You Think You Know About Your Customers

If you think you can just analyze your product’s performance by looking at it, you’re going to have a bad time. The only way to truly judge how your pre-roll stacks up is to smoke it. Not just with your crew either, but with a diverse group of smokers who can give you honest feedback.

Ensure you build a healthy feedback loop for product testing with actual smokers. Without it, you won’t get the feedback you need to judge the performance and market viability of your pre-roll.

The Father of Modern Business Strategy

Michael Porter, the author of Competitive Strategy, a staple of MBA programs and business schools everywhere, is a legend in business strategy theory. His seminal work hit shelves in 1980, but old doesn’t mean outdated. His frameworks are as relevant today as they were in the era of mullets, especially for emerging market cannabis entrepreneurs looking to carve out their spot in a rapidly changing industry.

Every business has a competitive strategy (whether they know it or not) but left alone long enough, different personalities within your company will pursue approaches that they feel will work best, which could leave you utterly rudderless. Let’s look at five concepts from this business strategy classic and how they can help your brand outperform competitors long-term.

Stand Out or Miss Out: The Power of Differentiation in Pre-Rolls

Often, people think that differentiation is solely a way to compete, but standing out also tends to have an entourage effect of maximizing profitability. The truth is that customers are willing to pay a premium price for a product that they perceive to be unique or different in some meaningful way (the key word here is ‘meaningful’).

Product differentiation insulates you from competitive forces since cannabis consumers typically have loyalties to specific brands. The Blackbird machine is the only commercial joint rolling machine that has automated the hand roll. With this level of differentiation, you’ll be able to skip a lengthy R&D process and carve out a space for yourself in the market sooner with a premium product that has marketing baked into it and allows you to maximize profitability at a higher price.


Ah, the sweet smell of top-shelf flower. It drives critical business drivers and gives you another arrow in your marketing quiver. Here are three reasons why focusing on quality flower can differentiate your business and drive essential business drivers.

Build a Strong Brand: Rolling with Style and Substance

Let’s face it, with the pre-roll market being as crowded as it is, building a strong brand is essential to stand out from the crowd. But with so many brands competing for attention, it can be challenging to know where to start. Let’s dive in:

Develop a clear and consistent brand message

that emphasizes the unique aspects of your pre-roll, such as its hand-rolled quality, terpene profile, and premium flower selection. For example, the Blackbird mimics the perfect hand-rolled joint every time. Many pre-rolls are volume-filled or gravity-fed, so being able to say yours differs from that AND solves the most significant issues with pre-rolls gives you a unique differentiator right out of the box.

Create a memorable visual identity

with a distinct logo and packaging design that stands out on the shelves. Don’t just throw a weed leaf on a package and call it good. The industry has evolved beyond that. Work with a creative agency to develop a cohesive brand identity that captures what your company stands for.

Go Where Your Audience Is

Use platforms like Leafly, Weedmaps, and Dutchie for promotional advertising won’t get your accounts shut down or shadow banned (*cough* Meta *cough). Though Twitter recently changed its policies on cannabis advertising, leading social media platforms are generally a hostile place for cannabis brands.

By building a solid brand, you can stand out and create a loyal customer base that clamors for more strains that give them unique experiences. Here are some examples of brands that have excelled in creating a stand-out brand.

Dosist: a California-based cannabis company, built its brand around precise, targeted dosing with its innovative vaporizer pens. The company’s consistent focus on quality and innovation has helped it become one of the most recognizable brands in the cannabis industry.

Sunmed Growers: This Maryland-based grower has built a distinct brand that integrates the Blackbird machine with its advanced “Dutch-style” greenhouse cultivation process. This innovative approach has enabled them to produce medicinal cannabis with rich terpenes, and complex flavor profiles typically found only in sun-grown varieties.

Cookies: the popular pre-roll and flower brand founded by rapper Berner has built a loyal following by focusing on premium flower strains and unique flavors. With a strong social media presence and consistent quality, Cookies has expanded from its Bay Area roots to become a nationally recognized brand.

As Chris Do, Founder of The Futur, said, “A brand is the sum total of every interaction a person has with your company.” By building a solid brand that emphasizes the unique qualities of your pre-roll, you can create a memorable and impactful experience for your customers every time they light up.

Stay Nimble

From constantly changing regulations to new states joining the legal ranks, the cannabis industry is a rapidly evolving market, and staying nimble is critical to staying ahead of the competition. Here are a few ways to stay nimble:

Establish Barriers to Entry

In Michael Porter’s classic strategy book, Competitive Strategy, he outlines how to create a sustainable competitive advantage that sets your business apart from the rest. Establishing barriers to entry and making it difficult for competitors to replicate your success is one way to do this. Proprietary technology can help ensure you and your competitors aren’t reciting the same script on pre-rolls. Cue the Blackbird commercial joint rolling machine.

Investing in unique technology or processes, like the Blackbird, which mimics a perfect hand-rolled joint every time, gives pre-roll brands a game-changing competitive edge that’s impossible to replicate with gravity-fed or volume-filled cones.

Establishing barriers to entry is about more than just making things harder for your competitors. It’s about creating a sustainable competitive advantage that insulates you against the average pre-roll on the market.

Fly with the Blackbird: Elevate Your Pre-Roll Game

We’ve covered a lot of ground, so let’s review. Differentiation, quality, brand building, barriers to entry, and staying nimble are all critical elements for success in the competitive pre-roll market. Armed with the Blackbird Rolling Machine, you can level the playing field with a unique differentiator, stand out from the crowd and build a more defensible market position.

Want to plant a flag in the ground and stand out from the other pre-roll competitors in your market? Learn more about how the Blackbird can help you differentiate your product and build a strong pre-roll brand.