This week’s Trailblazer is Lucas McCann, Chief Science Officer at CannDelta Consulting, one of the leading firms for cannabis regulations and scientific consulting.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I’ve been involved in the cannabis industry informally 20 years ago, I started my PhD in medicinal organic chemistry and was hooked ever since. From there I ended up at Health Canada after graduating in 2015 and then started CannDelta with another Health Canada agent from the medical cannabis program 4 years ago. Since then, it’s been a huge whirlwind of non-stop change, political tension, supply issues, more political tension and a lot of fun.
What has been the biggest marketing challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
The biggest challenge when working with anyone in Canada is that clients quickly realize how slow the industry moves (like a huge ship) and how little of what comes instinctually can actually be done (at least at first blush). Working in cannabis requires a solid strategy and a LOT of creativity. It can be frustrating for many but we have helped now hundreds of successful clients in the space and that has been VERY rewarding for us.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
Definitely advertising! Even the regulations themselves are poorly advertized and understood. Did you know that we have a legal framework for consumption lounges all across Canada but because of the regulations and how they are communicated, almost NO ONE knows about this. It’s very misunderstood and we at CannDelta are looking to let people know that there’s more in this industry that you can do than you originally could on day 1 of legalization.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
Speaking from a content creator and regular cannabis consumer perspective, the most effective way for cannabis companies to connect with consumers is increasing brand awareness through messaging on unique value propositions of the brand/product and investing in video content to engage audiences.
With so many brands and SKUs in market today, it can be extremely challenging for brands to stand out in-store and online, and stay top of mind for consumers when they’re making the purchase decision. In my opinion, I think that in order for brands to resonate with consumers, they need to focus their messaging on what makes their brand stand apart.
Whether it’s in the growing practices, the ingredients, sustainability, their philosophies, brands need to place more emphasis on crafting their story beyond just the product description.
As for video content, this is an absolute must when it comes to connecting with online audiences. Static images showcasing products can only go so far in terms of engagement. People want to see more rich content!
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
You bet, Deepak Anand has been a huge inspiration to our team. We originally started off as competitors but when he left CCI we became fairly close and have been able to exchange ‘trade secrets.’ I would mention Rosy Mondin world-class extractions, she’s very educated (she’s a lawyer) and capable. I also have the utmost respect for Barinder Rasode from Havn, her team has been doing great things in the psychedelics space, specifically for testing, there’s a lot that we will be seeing in psychedelics over the coming months and years – it’s a very exciting time for alternative medicines and patient access right now with Health Canada’s new special access program (SAP). I think everyone should keep that on their radar!
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to people looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Don’t give up! If there’s a will, there’s a way.