!-- Global site tag (gtag.js) - Google Analytics --> Marijuana Business Magazine March 2020

Marijuana Business Magazine March 2020

Marijuana Business Magazine | March 2020 44 Once those fundamental tasks are completed, companies can begin getting into the nitty gritty of developing art, packaging, wording and customer research. Indeed, marijuana companies are increasingly using tools to identify customers, their preferences and how to reach them. These tools include loyalty software programs, audience segmentation, contextual marketing strategies and partnerships. “The big takeaways for me as I’ve developed branding is ensuring that everything is consumer-driven. It has to resonate with your target core. It does not have to resonate with everybody,” said Cindy Blum, who left her global brand director post at Kellogg’s to become vice president of marketing for Elevate CBD in Pennsylvania. “I think the final thing for me is that what you’re doing resonates from both an emotional and a functional standpoint,” she said. “Very often, as we see the cannabis world coming to life, we all start to focus on the functional. We say this might help your pain and soreness and inflammation, which is great, and it’s true, but everyone’s going to say that. We need to take our brands to that higher level and really connect on an emotional level.” Companies don’t always need to do elaborate and expensive customer studies. Sometimes, it just takes smart store personnel to engage with customers to get good feedback. “It’s not scientific; it’s very qualitative to- day. But I kind of like that,” said Jann Parish, who handled marketing duties at Victoria’s Secret before joining Columbus, Ohio-based cannabis MSO Green Growth Brands. “You can make a number say anything, but you can’t make a consumer just say anything. They’re going to tell you how they feel.” In fact, marketing and branding are more craft than science. But while both require artistic flair and creativity, they also demand the patience, persistence and observational skills of a scientist who must rely on trial and error before getting a desired result. In the following pages, Marijuana Business Magazine provides the insights that will help your company develop a winning strategy. Cutting Price is Cutting Edge Josh Rosen and Kris Krane co-founded 4Front Ventures in 2011. The vertically integrated company headquartered in Phoenix started as a consultancy and management firm, an identity it still retains. Today, 4Front is also one of the biggest multistate businesses in the marijuana space and the force behind a growing number of branded cultivators — brands such as Marmas and Pebbles edibles as well as retailers in eight states under the Mission banner. Rosen, the CEO of 4Front Ventures, spoke with Marijuana Business Magazine about how the company’s branding strategy has evolved over time. How did you come up with your company’s name, and what did you want to convey with it? In 2011 …we viewed ourselves as on the forefront. After using it for a while, we realized (that using the numeral 4) put us at the top of every alphabetical list known to mankind. What are you not spending money on that other people might be spending money on? We don’t have a big internal branding team, and we don’t invest heavily in outsourced branding firms or consultants. We do spend money on swag and what I’d call more grassroots- oriented marketing activities. It’s about using the grassroots side and the PR side to make sure folks understand that we’ve dialed in quality production at scale. You want to make sure that, when you are a low-priced item, you’re not viewed as cheap. How do you get that message across to consumers? It’s just getting folks to try the product—which, at a lower cost, is fairly easy. It’s how we take market share without spending tons of money. Because if you put something in front of someone that costs less, it makes it an easy purchasing decision. Then, if they experience it and their experience is as good or better, the purchase decision becomes easy. That’s how you build brand loyalty. How do you brand in more mature markets versus less mature markets? During the immature phase of this industry, our view was that building a brand across multiple states was less about advertising across those states and more about putting products that have the same name in people’s shopping carts. And ultimately, we can say, “Hey, look, now we’re in five states. And, oh, by the way, it’s the same product everywhere you go.” What do you think will be important in terms of branding in three to five years? As we have common products across state lines, we’ll start to put a little bit more muscle behind protecting those brands over the intermediate longer term. As sales ramp up, and as our platform ramps up, we will dedicate more time and attention to branding in a very direct fashion—but probably around those products that we see need it and will benefit from it the most. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.) – Omar Sacirbey & Marketing Art of The Branding Josh Rosen Courtesy Photo