When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I had done some project work with a couple aspiring licensed producers, pre-legalization, beginning in 2017. I was excited about the category because I thought it could be an opportunity to build great brands and marketing programs like we often see in alcohol, which I now know is not exactly the case. But the pandemic truly was the catalyst for my pursuit of a focused role in cannabis marketing; it was an industry in growth mode and the connections I had made in cannabis were enjoying their work a great deal.
What has been the biggest marketing challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
Connecting with consumers is far and away our biggest marketing challenge. The rules governing promotion have made brand-building very difficult and I think that’s a big reason why there aren’t a lot of well–known product brands or brand loyalty
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
I can think of a lot more than one but not being able to communicate the benefits or effects of our products is something that needs to change. This is a new category and consumers want to know how the products work and what the effects will be, but we can’t talk about that. Limited product education is intimidating for people curious about trying cannabis again or for the first time.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
Budtenders and as a marketing extension, budtender education is critical. Since we can’t communicate benefits or effects, we have to ensure that budtenders understand our product so that they can inform customers in ways from which we’re prohibited. And as the defacto trusted voice in the retail channel, budtender recommendations go a long way to encouraging trial of our products.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
I had the opportunity to work with Jeff Goldenberg when I joined Dynaleo. He gave me invaluable insight into how to think about building brands in the Canadian cannabis market. He really helped us get our brands off the ground in those early days. Jeff’s definitely one of the sharpest minds in this industry today.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to people looking to enter the cannabis industry?
This is nothing like other “age of majority” categories like alcohol! We’re prohibited from using a lot of marketing and CPG tools that you would expect to leverage to drive sales or build your brand. But if you love creative problem solving and a very interesting product, you’re going to love the cannabis industry.
A big thank you to Aubrey for participating as this week’s Trailblazer! Stay tuned for another interview with a cannabis marketing Trailblazer next Thursday in the ADCANN blog.
Interested in working with one of these talented cannabis marketers? Check out our Agency Directory for a list of all the agencies that specialize in working with cannabis companies.