Marijuana Business Magazine February 2019

February 2019 | 71 so much time searching online, she noted. Boomers are the most frequent and active users of Facebook, and they’re more likely than other generations to share information on the social media platform, DiBlasi and West said. Boomers are also more tuned into email and are heavy consumers of mainstream media, including broadcast and cable television and radio, Underwood and West added. Messages and strategies that resonate: A campaign that appeals to boomers should have strong Facebook elements and the content should be educational and entertaining, DiBlasi said. Think how-to content or instructive content, West added. Video is also effective. Twenty-seven percent of boomers regularly watch video on Facebook, DiBlasi said. For example, Intuit produced an animated video titled “A Giant Story” that delivered “practical education about the power of finance software” married with entertainment, DiBlasi said. Disney World produced a 30-second TV spot to celebrate the 100 th birthday of Walt Disney that featured a list of the core values that resonate with boomers, Underwood said. And some that don’t: Underwood developed a list of seven words that marketers must never use when pitching to boomers. • Senior citizen • Retiree • Aging • Golden years • Silver years • Prime time • Mature In other words, boomers don’t want to be reminded of their age or be made to feel old, he and DiBlasi said. They’re much more likely to engage with brands that acknowledge their interest in active, healthy lifestyles, DiBlasi added. Also, avoid negativity or cynicism, Underwood said. Conduct Focus Group Research Focus group research can help you identify generation-specific attitudes toward cannabis—or questions, concerns and misgivings about the plant, said Chuck Underwood, founder and principal of The Generational Imperative, who has advised Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble on generational marketing strategies. For example, a focus group might uncover that Gen Xers are skeptical of marijuana for medical purposes, and your marketing strategy to reach themwill need to acknowledge that. Consumer research through focus groups is also important to investors, Underwood said. They want to know you understand the trends and attitudes that drive generation-specific consumer behavior, he said. The “gold standard” for this kind of intel is pricey—roughly $250,000 for “valid, sophisticated research,” Underwood said. But having this information pays dividends, he noted. The findings in qualitative, generation-specific focus group research can help you perfect your dispensary design, the labeling and packaging of your products, the color palettes you choose for your brand and your marketing strategy, he said. And, he added, the cost could be less depending on which marketing research partners you choose, howmany focus groups you have and howmany geographic regions you target. ConductingMarket Research According to Underwood, focus groups for generation-specific cannabis marketing should: • Be conducted in research facilities outfitted with video cameras and microphones to capture conversation as well as one-way glass for clients to listen in without influencing opinions. • Include eight to 12 paid adult participants. • Be hosted on weeknights (not during the workday) so you get a mix of employed and unemployed or retired participants. • Be led by an experienced focus group moderator thoroughly versed in generational studies. • Dig deep into consumers’ attitudes toward cannabis and their willingness or likelihood to use it. • Last about two hours so participants have roughly 10 minutes each to share their feedback. Underwood also noted that clients—in this case, cannabis business owners— should set clear parameters for the people they want to participate in the sessions. Based on what business owners know about their consumers, they may want specific demographics represented—more women than men, for example, or a specific age range within a generation. Also, Underwood said, it’s important to host focus groups in all the markets you plan to enter—as many as 10-20 locations around the country, if your budget allows. It would be a mistake to host focus groups on one coast or in one region and apply those consumers’ behaviors to others across the country. “You should never project a single session on to an entire generation coast to coast,” Underwood said. “Research can be mangled. If it’s not done properly and formally, then it’s junk in, junk out.” — Joey Peña