This week’s Trailblazer is Dwayne Stewart, CEO of Kinloch Naturals, comprised of three wholly-owned and vertically integrated subsidiaries. These include Flow Scientific Inc. a terpene formulation company. Kinloch Wellness, a health & wellness company that produces balanced self-care formulas augmented with full spectrum CBD, CBG, terpenes and other natural botanical and minerals. Rain Botanicals is dedicated to bringing non-THC terpene based diffuser oils and other terpene activated products to consumers across North America.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
In 2018 with the legalization process set to begin, we realized that our experience with growing hops would translate well to outdoor high CBD hemp. We started down the path of joining the cannabis industry in order to bring new sources of revenue to our family farm, and to translate that experience into this newly legalized crop.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
Working with a non-THC product inside an industry whose customers generally seek a THC product has certainly provided challenges. Ultimately we believe that our customer base is large and under-serviced by the current system. Marketing CBD and other non-THC minors within the regulations is fraught with challenges and connections to THC that we struggle to separate.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
In Canada, we need to allow CBD to be marketed as the health and wellness product that it is. We need to remove the stigma of “19+” adult use marketing for wellness products that contain non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Provide access to these non-intoxicating cannabinoids in pharmacies where consumers who do not wish to be associated with the cannabis culture can still access the benefits of the plant.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
Discord, Reddit, and other spaces where real conversations can happen seem to be effective for many platforms. Having a curated Instagram feed is all the rage, but does it create real connections? My greatest connections have been made at store pop-ups, talking to consumers directly. That is, unfortunately, not highly scalable.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Take a hard look at your career goals and the purpose you assign to your work. Are you passionate about cannabis? If not, stay out. If so, find a brand and an ethos that gives you energy. Much about this new and nascent industry will drain your energy, make sure you know how to re-fill your tank. If you choose to stay, the rewards can be tremendous. There is nothing that keeps me going like hearing amazing results from people trying our products and getting the results they want.