This week’s Trailblazer is Michelle Morin, Senior Brand Manager at Tilray Brands, a global leader in cannabis research, cultivation, processing and distribution.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I joined the cannabis industry in the summer of 2018, just ahead of recreational legalization. For my first year and a half in the industry, I worked in medical cannabis, before moving to the recreational side in late 2019. What drew me (and has kept me) in cannabis is that we’re building something from the ground up; there are no immediate answers to the challenging questions we face every day. Every single day we make progress on better aligning our products to our consumer’s needs, on better communicating their value propositions in the regulated Canadian environment, and in building a better industry for producers, retailers, and consumers.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
The biggest marketing challenge is the process of bringing the products to life for a consumer; taking them beyond their features to communicating the benefits those features provide, in an environment where the regulations require our marketing to be very education oriented. We’ve recently launched a new line of infused pre-rolls, the Good Supply Monsters, which contain 1,000mg of THC. One of the biggest challenges in developing the marketing for a product that’s unlike anything of this caliber so far, was exploring what it meant to go beyond that statement and bringing the product to life in a way that conveys the larger-than-life experience of smoking one of these products.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
It would be to remove the Canadian regulations prohibiting the promotion of cannabis so that we can start to build real brands that communicate value to consumers in ways that they intuitively understand. Consumers are overwhelmed with what can appear to be a sea of similar products and technical terms. The overreliance on educational “features” such as THC actually works against Health Canada’s goals of harm reduction, by perpetuating a race towards even higher THC, as products and brands struggle to differentiate themselves without being able to leverage engaging brand and product stories.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
It can be hard to stand out in this crowded and regulated industry. We believe that using high-impact, creative visuals is important for capturing initial awareness across all channels where possible, then applying the most important purchase drivers to keep the audience interested and draw them in to learn more.
For the recent launch of our Good Supply Monsters for example, the hook was this: the fact that they include 1000mg of THC, making them Canada’s strongest infused pre-rolls. But what helped bring this concept to life was our focus on the visuals for invoking a sense of awe and impact; approaching it from the consumer standpoint and exploring what would be interesting and unexpected enough to not only grab your attention, but make you want to steal the poster right off the wall. Naturally creating demand and sparking up conversations, it’s key for us to continue understanding our consumers and connecting with them to build a stronger community that not only focuses on the product itself but the experience that’s to be shared with friends.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
I’ve been fortunate to work with many incredible professionals in my 4+ years at Aphria and Tilray, in marketing, PR, sales, project management, R&D, regulatory and more. I’m very happy to see many of them choose to stay in the cannabis industry. The industry is full of passionate people, and that passion more than anything gives me confidence in the future of Canadian cannabis.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Realizing that every aspect of the legal industry; the retail environment, the consumer’s expectations, universal terms, is in its infancy. A lot of the strategies, and even objectives, used in mature industries are the wrong fit for what the industry, our partners and our consumers need right now. Being flexible and open minded will help make your marketing as effective as it can be.
Last Updated on February 23, 2023 by ADCANN