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

Marijuana Business Magazine March 2020

Marijuana Business Magazine | March 2020 68 & Marketing Art of The Branding Cindy Blum has held executive marketing posts at companies with household names such as PepsiCo, Wrigley and, most recently, Kellogg’s. In May 2019, Chicago-based Blum joined Elevate CBD, a Pennsylvania CBD company whose products are sold at retailers in 10 states and online. How has your experience with other brands helped you in cannabis? I’ve been lucky enough to work at some of the top branding companies in the world, and what they all do well is cre- ate a niche space for their brands that really resonates with the consumer and lives for many, many years. I think about my brand as a person. Who do I want that person to be in the world around them? Who are their friends, what’s their job? It really should resonate with who you want to connect with and bring into your world. Are you saying that a brand should target a specialized audience first, establish itself and then go broader? You find that core consumer and build from there. And then, it’s often a groundswell. Take Luna bar. In its early stages, it was very, very targeted. Now it’s like a soccer mom buys it, active girl buys it, healthy guy buys it. So it’s often a targeted buildup to a greater usership over time. How do you find the consumers you want to go after? How do you do consumer research? It’s not easy given that the category doesn’t really exist. It’s not cereal that’s been around for decades and decades. It’s a new category, and it’s hard to understand what the consumer wants and needs. Learn as much as you can about your potential consumers to make sure you’re on the right track. You can also ask retailers what they’re seeing and hearing and learning. You can run different ads on social media or through digital that are testing against different target audiences and see who’s responding to you—who starts to engage, who starts to buy. The biggest thing to remember is we don’t have to be perfect out of the gate. It’s important to keep learning and optimizing as you go. That will bring the consumer really to life, because then you start getting data from all the adver- tising you’re doing. You start to really understand who those people are. How do the regulatory complexities of CBD affect your job? Coming from a world where you could do most things, it really does make you think differently and act differently. We’re not able to expand the product line as much as we would like to because of some of the compliance issues. Many TV, radio, digital outlets just will not take your brand—or they will not take certain ads from you or certain words or certain hyperlink URLs. So you’ve got to keep testing it and seeing what you can get through and what you can’t. What would you say to those who believe branding isn’t important and it’s better to concentrate on price and quality? The latest estimate that I’ve heard is that there’s 3,500 brands in CBD alone. If you are not resonating with your potential shopper, how are you ever going to win the game? If it was just strictly on price, I’m just going to buy the cheapest one that’s on the shelf. It’s a psychological thing. People want things in their life that they feel connected to. It’s why we buy certain jeans and certain cereal, and it’s going to be why you buy certain CBD brands. And maybe consumers are not quite there in all states yet, but I think branding is ultimately what sets every brand apart—and is what will be the difference between success and failure. Brand Stand M any cannabis companies that are flourishing today owe their success at least in part to branding. Winners in this area have not necessarily invested loads of capital into branding but instead utilized marketing strategies creatively and cleverly. Marijuana Business Magazine spoke with three executives who came to the cannabis industry from consumer packaged goods (CPG) backgrounds. Here, they share how strict regulations determine marijuana and CBD branding strat- egy and where the market might go in the future. Industry executives discuss how the CPG space prepared them for cannabis marketing By Omar Sacirbey CINDY BLUM VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING, ELEVATE CBD, TELFORD, PENNSYLVANIA Cindy Blum Courtesy Photo