This week’s Trailblazer is Michael Cammarata, President and CEO of Neptune Wellness Solutions, a company whose purpose is to transform the everyday for a healthier tomorrow.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I first became involved in the cannabis space in 2019. I had been at Schmidt’s and Unilever on the CPG side making natural deodorants and have always been passionate about finding greener, healthier, better ways. What I found out is that the key to plant-based, critical strength deodorants is cannabinoids – not necessarily THC or CBD. Cannabinoids have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties that can be used as an alternative in a variety of use cases. While the cannabis industry is currently very focused on adult consumption and medical use, I think the real undiscovered opportunity for cannabis in the long-term is in consumer packaged goods. That’s why at Neptune, we’re focused on creating natural, plant-based, sustainable, purpose-driven brands with truly good-for-you and good-for-the-planet products spanning four key verticals: cannabis, nutraceuticals, beauty/personal care and food/beverage.
What has been the biggest marketing challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
I think the biggest challenge right now is the limitations on how cannabis products can be marketed which also creates barriers to educating consumers on cannabis in general. The difference between hemp and CBD, for example, is not well understood by many consumers, let alone other cannabinoids that may have positive benefits outside of adult consumption and medical use.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
I’d like to see changes in restrictions that allow CBD to be marketed more freely in Canada and more similarly to hemp products. CBD products can be found in grocery stores in the US, just like hemp products in Canada, whereas CBD products with no THC can only be purchased in regulated cannabis stores in Canada. The current regulations treat CBD very much like THC despite CBD having no psychoactive effects. There is a big opportunity to grow consumer awareness and share the benefits of CBD with a wider population if the current regulatory environment is framed as such.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
Word of mouth still plays a major role in how many consumers find out about different cannabis products and brands. That’s why curating a community of passionate brand ambassadors is critical. From engaging directly with and educating consumers at in-store pop ups, to holding product knowledge sessions with budtenders, to sharing personal experiences on social media, I believe that brand ambassadors will continue to be a cornerstone of effective marketing for cannabis companies for the long-term.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to people looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Be ready to challenge yourself to go back in time – before there was TV, radio, social media. Think outside the box in terms of how you can market your product, build your brand and connect with consumers without the conveniences of modern marketing techniques and tools. Your ability to do this effectively will be what helps to set you apart from other companies and brands in today’s highly regulated cannabis environment.
A big thank you to Michael 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.