Cannabis and cannabinoid-infused products are about to officially become legal across several North American markets. Producers of these new products will need to learn cues from their predecessors in the food, beverage, and alcohol industries on the crucial art of branding, marketing, and targeting the right demographics.
Whether it’s marketing the dried cannabis flowers, or cbd-infused beverages and foods, companies that will be ramping up their marketing focus in the coming months include Aphria Inc. (TSX: APH) (OTC: APHQF), Aurora Cannabis (TSX: ACB) (OTC: ACBFF) and Canopy Growth (TSX: WEED) (OTC: TWMJF) with Cannapay Financial—a partially owned subsidiary of Glance Technologies (OTCQB: GLNNF) (CSE: GET)—positioned to facilitate a safe and secure cannabis transaction platform for the sector.
As well, the Cannapay platform is being strategically paired with analytics hardware and software from private-co Fobisuite, to provide insights for cannabis retailers and producers.
In Canada, edits made last fall to Bill C45 made an impactful change that will determine consumers’ choices in what they can eat and drink—but it’s going to be everything from packaging, flavour, and creative marketing that will determine which product that same consumer will reach for on the shelf.
How cannabis companies will influence these customers through first impressions, availability, and niche choices, is going to matter greatly.
As well, each company will need to be ready, by ramping up production in preparation for the legalization of recreational use, later this year—as running out of stock in the beginning could be incredibly costly in the long run.
Look for beverage crossovers like the move made by Canopy Growth (TSX: WEED) (OTC: TWMJF) in their monumental deal last year beverage giant Constellation Brands (NASDAQ: STZ)—owners of the Corona brand of beers and many more.
Or outside of the multi-billionaire-dollar giants in the space, there are multiple entries into the space coming from Juve Wellness (a subsidiary of Cannapay Financial) which has several products both with and without cannabinoids.
Juve is poised to become a widely distributed power player on the shelves of the newly-legalized sellers of the future.
Look to drives by companies large and small to target their marketing with laser-like precision in the months to come, including from Aphria Inc. (TSXV: APH) (OTC: APHQF), Aurora Cannabis (TSXV: ACB) (OTC: ACBFF) and Canopy Growth (TSX: WEED) (OTC: TWMJF).
BRANDING WILL BE EVERYTHING
According to data from cannabis business data firm BDS Analytics, legal sales of marijuana edibles totaled $90.41 million US in 2014, $126.17 million US in 2015, and later ballooning to $189.9 million US in 2016. Therefore, there’s a steady rise in one segment of the market that will inherently involve all types of factors, like smell, taste, and form, that will cater to the tastes of all types of consumers.
But it won’t just be in edibles that marijuana marketing will be gaining steam. Where and how cannabis products can be purchased will matter a lot.
Ahead of legalization, Aurora Cannabis made a major retail move for Western distribution, through a $103.5 million deal with Liquor Stores NA Ltd. This followed the major deal announced last year by Aphria with mega-retail chain, Shoppers Drug Mart to sell their products across a vast number of stores across Canada.
While Canopy Growth did make a buzz around both the beverage and cannabis sectors with the Constellation deal (valued at USD$191 million/CAD$245 million), it’s not the first sign of branding and marketing focus from the mega-producer. Canopy’s flagship dried-cannabis flower brand is that of Tweed, which has long been focused on image, as well as quality in the eyes of the consumer.
It’s this same mindset that has led Aphria to get involved with companies that promote themselves as cannabis-lifestyle influencers—which included having a hand in the merger between Tokyo Smoke and DOJA Cannabis to become Hiku Brands Company Ltd (CSE:HIKU) (OTC: DJACF).
Now that the cannabis industry is expected to be worth $50 billion by 2026, producers will be expected to capture the hearts of new consumers looking to make their brand choices that could last for years.
However, it’s through the mainstream appeal of Juve Wellness, that products will be stocking refrigerator shelves all across the continent.
THE CBD WAVE FROM JUVE WELLNESS
Cannabidiol (or CBD) is one of the two main cannabinoids used in products, which deliver a medicinal benefit from cannabis and hemp) plants. Unlike its more psychoactive cousin THC, CBD has no mental effects, other than perhaps a reduction of anxiety. However, it’s its efficacy towards pain and other ailments that is making CBD become a more acceptable household remedy for ailments. And it’s also becoming more commonly infused with all types of products including soaps, hand creams, chocolates, teas, and other edibles and beverages.
It’s through this safe and acceptable extraction that Juve Wellness plans to expand upon its already popular branding. At the moment, Juve has 42 products, each of which can be made with or without cannabinoids infused. Currently, they have 21 non-cannabis products that have already been submitted to Health Canada for registration as personal care products.
About Cannapay Financial Inc.
Cannapay is a partially owned subsidiary of Glance Technologies (OTC: GLNNF) (CSE: GET). Cannapay has licensed the right to use and the right to sublicense the Glance Pay mobile payment technology for use in the cannabis industry.
Aphria Inc. (TSX: APH) (OTC: APHQF)
Aphria is one of Canada’s lowest cost licensed cannabis producers, specializing in the production, suppy, and sale of medical cannabis. The company offers sativa, indica, and hybrid medical marijuana products, as well as cannabis oils. It also provides support services in the form of medical consultations, group therapies, and rehabilitation to veteran and first responders. The company sells its products through its online store or phones, as well as engages in the wholesale shipping of medical marijuana plant cuttings and dried buds to other licensed producers. Aphria Inc. is headquartered in Leamington, Canada.
Aurora Cannabis (TSX: ACB) (OTC: ACBFF)
Aurora Cannabis boasts the second highest square footage approved for cannabis production in Canada. Together with its subsidiaries, Aurora produces and distributes medical marijuana products in Canada. The company’s products consist of dried cannabis and cannabis oil.
Aurora is the only cannabis producer located in the province of Alberta, giving the company a cost advantage through its free use of fresh mountain-fed water used on site, and housed under the lowest corporate tax rates and power rates in Canada. Capitalizing on numerous farm credit programs provided by the province, Aurora has positioned itself as arguably the lowest cost-per-gram licensed producer in Canada. Aurora became a licensed producer in 2015, and is based in Edmonton, Alberta.
Canopy Growth Inc. (TSX: WEED) (OTC: TWMJF)
Owners of the Tweed brand of cannabis products, Canopy Growth is a multi-licensed, geographically diverse marijuana producer, described as “one of the world’s — and Canada’s first — premier exporters of marijuana” by the Financial Post in 2016. Canopy is the parent company of licensed cannabis producers, Tweed Inc., Tweed Farms Inc., Bedrocan Canada Inc., as well as newly acquired Mettrum Health Corp. Canopy currently has a combined growing platform of over 665,000 sq. ft. of production space. It was also the first federally regulated, publicly traded cannabis producer in North America, and the first billion-dollar cannabis corporation. Canopy Growth was founded in 2014, and is based in Smith Falls, Ontario.
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