This week’s Trailblazer, Randy Rowe, is the President and Founder of Grow Up Conference and Expo, Canada’s #1 Cannabis Event — Network with Retail Buyers, Brands, Growers, CEOs and Budtenders all in one spot.

Randy Rowe has been the driving force in shaping the premier B2B cannabis event into what it is today. With a rich background in event management and a passion for cannabis advocacy, Randy has led 14 Canadian cannabis conferences to success, hosted seven cannabis industry awards, and developed the Top 50 Cannabis Leaders in Canada, a landmark initiative recognizing the most influential figures in the sector. His success is marked by a dedication to incorporating cutting-edge concepts that redefine cannabis events.

Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer

When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?

Initially, my career trajectory was rooted in the music industry, where I was the Production Manager of four magazines. However, in 2000, I decided to take a leap of faith and establish my own graphics and media company, still focusing primarily on the music industry. Here I worked closely with prominent figures in the music scene like Canadian Music Week (CMW), championed by Neill Dixon for the last 41 years.

My involvement with CMW gave me insight into event management and the intricacies of producing national-scale shows. When CMW expressed interest in hosting a cannabis event, I started to envision a conference and expo in the Niagara region (where I’m originally from!) with a specific focus on cannabis growers. I wanted to carve out a path that was uniquely my own. This vision culminated in the creation of Grow Up, an event that has since become a significant platform within the industry.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?

The stringent regulations set by Health Canada coupled with the limitations of big tech platforms, specifically around terminology and graphics, make marketing a struggle for any cannabis company. The solution is getting creative and staying resilient.

As an event company working with hundreds of brands across North America, we leverage our expertise to create engaging content and focus on brand awareness, education and community building. Grow Up is committed to providing a platform for the brands we represent to connect with their target audience and establish themselves in the industry.

Another thing to note is how traditional print media may not hold the same relevance as it once did. Although, we still leverage the use of postcards and direct mail pieces. These tangible assets are valuable marketing tools and provide a personalized touch that resonates with our audience.

If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?

Allow cannabis brands the freedom to market themselves on par with alcohol.

Compared to alcohol, cannabis faces disproportionately stringent marketing regulations, limiting brands’ ability to compete. We must level the playing field for cannabis to promote fair competition, empower businesses, and provide consumers with more information to make informed choices. This change wouldn’t just benefit the industry; it would also foster innovation and creativity in marketing strategies.

Grow Up Conference

In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?

It’s really important to create authentic relationships with consumers. In my observation, experiential marketing, social media engagement, and email marketing have been among the most effective techniques.

Creating immersive experiences through live demonstrations or interactive exhibits allows consumers to interact with products and brands firsthand. By offering multi-sensory experiences, brands can forge stronger emotional ties, build recall, and drive loyalty.

Leveraging social media platforms like Instagram to engage directly with consumers is highly effective. You can share updates about events, products, and promotions becoming top of mind for your target audience. It’s also an incredible way to foster a sense of community.

Building and nurturing an email subscriber list allows brands to communicate with consumers regularly. This direct communication channel can drive engagement and conversions.

Are there any other trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?

In my role, I have the opportunity to work closely with hundreds of brands and people, so I must confess that I follow too many to name just one. There’s no shortage of inspiring figures making waves in the cannabis industry, each bringing their unique perspectives to the table.

What truly excites me is the diversity of talent that our industry has. Whether it’s groundbreaking research, innovative product development, or impactful advocacy efforts, there’s always something new and exciting happening in cannabis.

What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?

Prioritize consistency. Ensure that the way you present your company, and what it stands for, remains the same across all your channels. To do that, it’s crucial to know what your message is and who you’re marketing to. Marketers should strive to understand the “why” behind their efforts. This deeper understanding enables brands to connect with their target audience on a more meaningful level, which in turn fosters loyalty and advocacy. This is particularly important in a saturated industry like cannabis.

Cannabis Marketing Trailblazers

A big thank you to Randy from Grow Up Conference and Expo for participating as this week’s Trailblazer! Stay tuned for another interview with a cannabis marketing Trailblazer next Thursday in the ADCANN blog.

Camrawn Cox

Camrawn Cox

Camrawn Cox thrives in the realms of cannabis sales, marketing, and communication. With a knack for building meaningful connections, fostering engaging brand experiences and compelling strategies that drive the cannabis industry's growth.