Marijuana Business Magazine February 2020

Marijuana Business Magazine | February 2020 60 T he vaping crisis was the first na- tional health emergency to hit the cannabis industry, but odds are, it won’t be the last. Cannabis vaporizer and extraction executives who weathered the vaping crisis learned valuable lessons about how to react and what businesses should consider in the event something similar occurs in the future. Their advice could help determine whether a company survives—or dies. To prepare for any future crises, can- nabis industry executives recommended six strategies. They range from educat- ing retailers and consumers about the contents of your products to thoroughly vetting suppliers. 1. HONE A MARKETING RESPONSE TO PROVIDE CLEAR MESSAGING TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. To deliver a clear message to the general public—that cannabis vaporizers are safe, for example—marijuana companies should view the vaping crisis as an op- portunity to better define their brands. “A lot of it comes down to the mar- keting and the messaging,” said Patrick Mitchell, director of sales for Jupiter Research, a Phoenix vaporization tech- nology manufacturer. When the vape crisis erupted last summer, Jupiter’s in-house marketing team developed a response that pointed to documentation reinforcing the com- pany’s adherence to established safety standards, such as those set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as Good Manufacturing Practice. Mitchell noted that vape products purchased via the legal market differ markedly from unlicensed merchandise bought off the street or online. For one, the licensed products are lab tested and verified. He recommends that vape brands highlight that testing in their messaging by saying: “Here are the steps we have to go through. Here is the process.” For instance, vape products in Califor- nia are required to undergo heavy metal and pesticide testing, and that should be part of a brand’s messaging. The message helps solidify consumer “understanding of the difference between licensed and unlicensed products,” Mitchell said. 2. CONSIDER THE FOOD INDUSTRY’S FARM-TO- TABLE APPROACH. Another strategy is to help consumers understand where their cannabis comes from, much like farm- to-table restaurants that detail the origin of their food ingredients, said AC Braddock, CEO of Seattle- based Eden Labs, a cannabis extraction company. She recommends, for example, marketing the farmer who grew the cannabis and how the product was made. Another incentive: Consumer demand means such information can command a premium markup. “Really market that you’re a modern business with a mission to provide a prod- uct that’s healthy and safe,” she added. 3. REASSESS AND REEVALUATE THE INTERNAL WORKINGS OF YOUR BUSINESS. When an industry crisis hits, a cannabis company should take itself apart in much the same way a mechanic disassembles an engine and examines the components to ensure they’re in good working order. For a business, that means organizing a team to study processes, organization and execution. Even if nothing is discov- ered, the reassessment still helps to set policies moving forward. Cannabis industry executives who weathered the vaping health scare share tips on how to handle the next calamity Strategies for Surviving the Next Crisis By Bart Schaneman and Omar Sacirbey AC Braddock Courtesy Photo