Edibles are a hit with cannabis consumers. Cannabis consumers have gobbled up the new edible products introduced last week in Ontario’s legal cannabis shops. The OCS was sold out of its edibles products within an hour. Retail stores reported that gummies, cookies and chocolates also sold out within an hour of hitting store shelves. Edibles are the heavy favorites because they allow consumers to try products without having to resort to smoking. Consumers must be wary of the timeline that it may take to feel the high as a result, and not ingest more than recommended by Health Canada. With the use of edibles increasing, the delivery method poses a concern with regards to dosing.
Consumers who have not smoked or used cannabis products before could be at risk of overdosing. Inexperienced or first-time users must be aware of their own tolerance and be cognizant of avoiding snacking away while waiting for a high. Being careful and mitigating how users consume cannabis infused edibles will help prevent issues such as a racing heartbeat, anxiety and panic attacks that will ultimately lead to a trip to the emergency room. Users must be aware that edibles can take several hours to digest and get absorbed in their system. The type of food consumed with it, before or after, the type and size of a person, weight and time of day will also have an impact on the onset and duration of the “high”. It is a very different absorption method when compared to smoking cannabis that is quickly inhaled through the lungs.
Seniors are especially at risk because of slower metabolism and the possibility of having other prescription drugs in their system. Current federal regulations limit the individual size to a 10ml maximum dose of THC per package, the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, in order to control how much and how quickly dosing can happen. In general, consumers need to be aware that the onset of the effect of THC or CBD based edibles is within a 60-180 min window, with the affect lasting up to 4-6 hours.
Cannabinoids can be infused in a variety of ways and if there is an uneven distribution of active ingredients it may lead to unpredictable results. Production of edibles must adhere to the highest standards in order to make sure that each batch is exactly controlled, measured and infused properly. It is a much longer onset and a longer affect then smoking or vaping. It has less of an odor, more convenient, discreet and much more controlled.
The greatest allure of this growing segment of the industry if that new technologies and products are developed continuously and improvements are vast. That is also the greatest drawback. As with any new industry, time tested products and technologies are not available and it’s a trial and tribulations type of growth. Being aware of the risks and rewards of cannabis consumption is crucial to maximizing the user experience while minimizing negative affects.
Effective marketing and advertising are imperative to the success and growth of any business, especially in the Cannabis industry. With the launch of Cannabis 2.0 still in its infancy stage, marijuana start-ups and established companies in the space are finding it difficult to navigate the tangle o advertising restrictions from Health Canada. What can you do for your cannabis business to reach and build the audience of cannabis consumers your brand is hoping to attract? Although the industry is severely limited in the type of marketing and advertising it can utilize, there are various tactics cannabis companies can implement to legally increase awareness of their brand. Before diving into them, let’s start by keeping in mind general do’s and don’ts when crafting your marketing initiative.
Don’t market your cannabis business or products to or near minors
Be smart about the branding you use and the locations you choose to advertise at and keep age restrictions in mind. There are several questions being raised on the legalization of cannabis and its impact on minors. To ease those fears, plan and make appropriate marketing a top priority.
Don’t infringe on any existing brands copyrights, regardless of the industry
Established mainstream companies will be diligent about keeping their brands and trademarks from being mimicked by a cannabis company. A great example is when Hershey’s sued a dispensary for trademark infringement after the dispensary began carrying edibles called “Reefer’s Cups.” Companies such as Hershey’s have an abundance of capital to go after smaller companies for infringement and copyright.
Do have a clear message on what your company stands for
How can your company help mitigate the stigmas that years of prohibition and propaganda have placed
on the plant and its use? Maintain fair labor practices and avoiding sexist and derogatory messaging will go along way in building a successful brand identity as your effort will attract a broader and more diverse audience.
Traditional marketing outlets include media like newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV. These mediums are tricky to utilize due to the strict constrains of the Cannabis Act, and these traditional channels will be very limiting. However, that does not mean that these avenues should be discounted all together. Although these avenues often carry high costs, and measuring results is nearly impossible, you might be able to get creative and identify an opportunity that’s appropriate for your business. By finding alternative, non-mainstream publications such as a cannabis focused magazine will allow you to get your message out there. Television ads are a little too progressive for most corporate networks and service providers to be open to partnerships with cannabis companies at this juncture, but with the right approach some companies have begun to successfully advertise in movie theatres. For example, since 2017, Tweed Inc has been running commercials about their company in Cineplex VIP 19+ movie theatre rooms.
Digital marketing encompasses all web-based or electronic communication such as websites, blogs, search engine optimization, advertising and email marketing. Digital marketing is becoming increasingly appealing for several reasons. Because more people are going online for their news, social media etc., making digital marketing a forefront to your marketing campaign is a no brainer. You can better measure the success of your digital strategies using key performance metrics like impressions clicks and conversion rates. You can learn a great deal about your marketing campaign and whether or not your messaging needs to be tweaked. Make a list of cannabis- specific websites and online communities and either list your business there or investigate advertising opportunities. Furthermore, as the old age saying goes, content is king, and that’s especially true for the cannabis industry. As more people become curious about cannabis in the wake of Cannabis 2.0, you can take the opportunity to create blog posts, infographic, videos, and other compelling media for your website or in partnership with a larger industry publication. Lastly, building a list of your customer emails and data base is crucial to successful communication because it will help you build a targeted list that will give you the ability for direct communication.
Social media is included in digital marketing, but it’s a powerful medium that deserves its own set of considerations. Many social media platforms prohibit paid cannabis advertising and thus your business may need to get creative and persistent with organic tactics. For instance, think of your Facebook page as a mini version of your website. Post news updates, articles, deals and specials, questions to your followers and play around with different messaging to see what works with your audience. Instagram is quite popular among the cannabis community, and having an account is key to your marketing initiatives. Share beautiful pictures of your products, your business, and any other imagery that both reflects your brand and will resonate with the community. LinkedIn is great for posting business updates, job openings, and finding business communities in your niche that you can potentially partner or negotiate deals with.
Marketing at events give you the opportunity to connect face to face with your customers, vendors, collect opportunity leads, and build relationships. Look for communities of cannabis enthusiasts and other like-minded interest groups. Take advantage of face to face time with your audience by handing out merchandise and apparel. This can help your customers keep your brand as a part of their everyday lifestyle.
Effective marketing and advertising are imperative to the success and growth of any business, especially in the Cannabis industry. With the launch of Cannabis 2.0 still in its infancy stage, many marijuana start-ups and established companies, no mater which marketing area they choose to focus on, it is important to keep Health Canada marketing restrictions at the forefront of your campaign and adhere to all the regulations.
As 2019 has come to an end, it will undoubtedly go down as one of the strongest years in a long time for the broader market and likely the worst year for marijuana stocks. What started out as a profitable investment in the first quarter turned into a major buzzkill for the remaining nine months. Since the end of the first quarter, most cannabis stocks have lost a significant chunk of their market cap as questions rose concerning the growth trajectory of the global cannabis industry fell short of expectations. This has left the industry struggling to answer one simple question: What does 2020 hold in store for cannabis stocks.
Several cannabis derivative products are poised to breathe life into an already staggered industry such as infused beverages, vapes and concentrates with the biggest mover being topicals. Derivates offer significantly higher margin products than traditional dried cannabis, making this past Decembers launch particularly important for the financial well being of marijuana stocks. What’s more, derivatives are particularly popular with younger adults and first-time users, thereby providing a bridge for the pot industry to a new generation of cannabis consumers.
Cannabis derivative products such as topicals work effectively at creating a bigger overall marker for the former Schedule 1 drug, for example, for users who may not feel comfortable inhaling a rolled cigarette or vape pen. They offer significant advantages for producers as well, namely the prospect of higher margins and expanded profitpotential. Cannabis infused topicals involve a significantly greater deal of processing before they’re ready for market. That means they’re more expensive and complex to manufacture, but it also allows space for producers to differentiate themselves, allowing them not only to charge a higher margin for their products but to differentiate themselves from a branding perspective as well.
For processing companies in the cannabis industry who own their own IP, such as XTRX Solutions, for topical formulations are poised to become winners in the race to market. Having a handful of topicals developed ahead of time and have them ready to be personalized for the client, with scents, texture, CBD and THC to name a few options, will come out ahead. Licensed producers will be able to cut wait times while formulating their own formulations, avoid finding a manufacturer, cut down on lead time, and not to mention avoid any importing fees associated with purchasing a ready-made base from outside Canada. This will enable a company to develop and produce an infused topical much faster and have their product readily available on the shelves than most of their competitors.
With the state of the cannabis landscape as it is today, more and more Licensed Producers are bound to pivot from the stagnant dried flower and pre-roll revenue streams and move to a more lucrative means of selling their products through vapes and tinctures with the majority of the profit margins coming from topicals. Topicals are poised to be the leading derivative product this year as profit margins are high and they appeal to wider audience at the end of the day. Companies that have established partnerships with processors who have cut the lead time by having their own IP on several products are bound to hit their growth trajectory in 2020.
It’s become very apparent that, the black market, rather than dwindling and disappearing like many experts predicted, is still going strong and thriving. The fact that illegal sales have continued and thrived could potentially dissuade lawmakers in other countries from adopting similar legislations. All of this begs the questions “what’s really going on?” Is the legalization argument flawed or are there other factors at play that we have been ignoring? One could argue that excessive regulations, quality problems, pricing and a lack of supply in the legal markets that are keeping the black market alive.
The eradication of the black market was one of the Canadian government’s main goals, it’s ironic that one of the factors feeding it is the regulatory framework which has been put it place. Not only are the government restrictions on licensed producers extremely strict, but so are many of the provincial application processes for cannabis retailers and processors. Many of the laws that have been put forth surrounding the distribution, sale and advertising of cannabis are incredibly strict, and in many cases downright bizarre. If you walk into one of the Toronto dispensaries, you will get a sense of how heavy-handed everything is. The windows are blacked out, the labels and logos on the packages have been stripped to the bare essentials, and the product is hidden away behind thick glass. All of this is the result of the federal government’s aim to legalize cannabis without normalizing its use.
One of the largest hurdles facing the legal market that hasn’t been well addressed are issues surrounding quality. While it’s definitely a more difficult variable to quantify, a number of surveys and reviews have shown that many consumers are dissatisfied with the quality on offer. Many of the quality control issues ultimately tie into supply. Canada already had some of the highest rates of consumption in the world, and that number has only increased since legalization. Put simply, the supply of cannabis is still being outstripped by the incredible demand. Most of the licensed producers are struggling to simply get enough product out the door, meaning that a lot of inferior pot is being shipped out in the process. To offset the issue, it’s the experienced users who routinely hit up their black market dealer during prohibition that are the least likely to tolerate these problems.
Another major culprit behind the persistence of the black market is a simple case of basic economics. While many are attracted to the idea of purchasing cannabis from a regulated source, at the end of the day there will always be those who simply aren’t going to buy legal when unregulated product is cheaper. For example, the average price in April 2019 for a gram of cannabis sold legally in Canada was $9.99 verses $6.40 for a gram of black market cannabis. To make matters worse according to statistics Canada the gap between legal and illegal cannabis is $4.72 per gram on average.
One of the biggest issues and probably the simplest explanations is that there’s not enough of the legal stuff to go around. While the issue has improved in many regions in the past year, cannabis shortages have plagued provinces throughout the country, particularly in the early days of legalization. Many retailers found themselves unable to stock product for days at a time. Health Canada is showing high levels of inventory, but critics have rightly pointed out that a significant amount of that product is unfinished and not ready to sell.
Despite all of these problems it’s important to put things in perspective. First and foremost, one fact that has been pointed out constantly is that legalization is still in its early days. The hope is that as the Canadian government and the cannabis industry continue to evolve, we’ll start to see these problems work themselves out. Despite what many anti-cannabis proponents are claiming, the situation is not actually that bad. A number of reports have indicated that the black market sales are indeed declining. One study by Statistics Canada found that illegal sales decreased by 13% over the last year. So while it may not be happening as quickly as the government hoped, it is clear that things are trending in the right direction.
Division of Ayurcann Inc.