Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
Just under 2 years ago now and by luck rather than judgement! I’d been an account manager in direct mail and commercial print for over 20 years and wanted a change of role and industry. This opportunity came along, I knew it was packaging design, but the industry was a surprise pleasant surprise.
What has been the biggest marketing challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
It wasn’t so much as a challenge as a bit of an adjustment to what I was used to. The direct mail industry is all about deadlines and schedules, regulatory mailings with fines involved if the packs dropped late, that kind of thing. Sure we have key dates in this industry too, just people are little more relaxed about things.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
For me it would have to be the plain packaging/labelling rules in Canada. Of course I understand why they are in place but your packaging should be a brand weapon and Canadian brands are missing out on that powerful sales tool.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
The techniques we use as a b2b in this sector are definitely quite different to the b2c cannabis company, but what I can say is we’ve seen an increase in brands connecting with high-profile influencers and celebrities for investment, brand deals and even whole product ranges. Symbiotic business relationships are key, and brand collaborations and partnerships is definitely where the future is headed for Cannabis.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
Off the top of my head there are a few names that come to mind for different reasons. Charlotte Caldwell, Mother to Billy Caldwell diagnosed with schizophrenia. She is an activist for access to THC prescriptions for children and adults alike the UK and Ireland, and has been making waves in the industry to draw awareness to the cause and raise the profile of the cannabis conversation with government and healthcare officials.
Steve DeAngelo from Arcview group is also a major trailblazer as an entrepreneur and successful retailer for Cannabis products, and of course Kary Radestock, CEO at Hippo Premium packaging is one to watch for. She has an amazing eye for cannabis branding and is great at stirring up the conversation around cannabis branding and design.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to people looking to enter the cannabis industry?
My advice to anyone new venturing into this challenging and already competitive market is be bold, and be specific. Recognise your niche and maximise it. Whether it’s a unique strain, a novel product, or you’re just excellent at what you do, showcase your expertise and capitalise on that. Incorporate the body and spirit of your brand into your product design and your shelf presence. Branding says volumes about you, so invest in that and be proud to show audiences how you’re different from everyone else. Be unapologetically you.
A big thank you to Steve 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.