canadian cannabis consumer motivations – a closer look

canadian cannabis consumer motivations – a closer look

It’s a little early to tell if October 17th will become a national holiday in Canada, but it’s still a day for celebration. As we congratulate Canada as the first industrialized nation to legalize cannabis as they did a year ago, we want to share some of our insights on what motivates cannabis consumers north of the 49th parallel.

consumer segments: us vs. canada

Similar to the groundbreaking studies we’ve done on the US market to identify market segments, the Canadians surveyed fell into the same four segments. And like our first US study in 2014, Canadians primarily fell into two of the segments: Outsiders (28%) and Traditionalists (38%). In 2014 the US market Outsiders comprised 44% and Traditionalists 26% of the surveyed respondents. Outsiders tend to generally agree with legalization and consume cannabis, but they are much more conservative in how they express themselves and communicate about cannabis. We’ve seen over time that as legalization becomes mainstreamed, individuals in the segment tend to drift towards the Indie segment.

us vs. canada consumer segment breakdowns:

A broad stroke characterization of the Canadian market would be they’re “practical.” Canadian adult consumers who responded to the survey have embraced cannabis as a practical move. In essence, it was the time to do it. Whereas in the US legalization was viewed as a social shift driven by urban progressives in Western states. This is supported by the data point that 34% fewer Idealists make up the Canadian market. Idealists are a segment that favors progressive change for the sake of it.

Where we see the most significant variance between US and Canadian markets is in those segments most embracing and supportive of legalization. Indies and Idealists are change proponents. In the US these segments represent 52% of the surveyed population and 34% in Canada. We expect that in future surveys the percentage of Canadian Indies and Idealists will move towards the 50% mark as the population is more comfortable speaking out in support of legalization.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Traditionalists. As a refresher, the Traditionalists segment is resistant to change. While most do not favor legalization nor the use of cannabis, there is a small percentage that does consume. Our interpretation is that the black market was, and will continue to be a preferred commercial channel for some cannabis consumers.

the canadian medical cannabis consumer

Statistics Canada released interesting information indicating about half of all consumers do so for non-medical reasons only. And those who do consume for medical reasons are more likely to consume daily.

Viewing our findings through the lens of the StatsCan data, we concluded the following:

        • Regular or near daily consumption is likely related to the use of cannabis as a medication or as an effort to manage and alleviate symptoms.
        • Accessing cannabis by way of newly established legal channels is more common among medical consumers than adult use consumers.
        • The StatsCan report also noted that just 26% of adult use consumers obtained cannabis from legally authorized retailers versus 86% for approved medical consumers.

Our conclusion: medical users value quality and safety in their products. Thus it’s not surprising for them to be more law abiding and trusting of legal channels.

When asking Canadian consumers if they intend to buy cannabis for medical use, we received the following breakdown of responses.

What we have learned from our US research is that for Indies, Outsiders and Idealists, the “YES” column numbers are going to get larger. As cannabis mainstreams in Canada individuals will be more comfortable sharing their cannabis intentions.

The data indicates that about 60% of medical cannabis buyers will buy at least once per month. And about 25% will buy on a near weekly basis. Our initial take on this buying frequency is tied to purchase limits, higher consumption volumes among medical patients and possibly influenced by pay periods.

what motivates canadian consumers to buy?

Our past research has found that the vast majority of medical cannabis consumers do so to alleviate symptoms associated with chronic pain, sleeplessness and anxiety/depression. These findings are consistent in both the US and Canada. Additionally for the US population, our studies have revealed more therapeutic consumption of cannabis occurs in adult use states than in medical legal states.

Current limited availability of form factors other than flower and concentrates limits growth in new consumer groups. Particularly those who by preference or physical ability cannot consume by smoking cannabis in flower form.

As a result of the flower and concentrates being the dominant form factor of products in Canada (though that’s ending soon), younger males tend to be the primary consumer group for adult use cannabis. They tend to be those most familiar with cannabis and have disposable incomes available for procuring cannabis products.

interest in edibles

Canada’s legal framework delayed allowance of edibles into the market approximately one year. That year buffer ends October 17, 2019, when edibles will be allowed into Canadian retail stores.

So what edible products are most widely sought?

Though both Canadian and US markets are still in their very early days, we believe in time edibles will become the product form of choice. Flower starts strong in legal markets but loses favor while edibles gain prominence. We have not defined why this is the case, our calculated assessment is that smoking in general has become less socially acceptable. Discretion and portability is also a driver of consumer interest in non-combustible forms of cannabis.

brand and product development

When considering the development of new brands or products, there’s little distinction in the minds of consumers about medical and adult use cannabis brands. As in the US, most frequent answers to questions about the differences between medical and adult use brands are “There is none” or “I don’t know/have no idea.”

Canadian consumers are more aware of the issues of potency and ingredients. The level of THC, higher for medical, was mentioned by Canadian consumers more than twice as often as US consumers. There’s also an awareness of cannabidiol (CBD) that’s twice that in the US. The US has since passed legislation triggering an onslaught of CBD headlines.

It’s safe to say the next round of research CBD will benefit from a lot more consumer awareness.

Of interest to marketers is another theme that is consistent in the US. That being, when asked what steps could a brand take to appeal to more people, the vast majority of respondents (34%) stated they “don’t know.” The second most mentioned tactic was lower pricing (11%) but the third highest response was advertising. This is a signal to cannabis brand marketers that brands driven by a marketing strategy with strong that visibility and awareness objectives is likely to pay off in increased consumer demand.

The Canadian market, much like the legal states in the US, is very immature. There is a great deal of consumer interest but developing a true national brand is a longer term proposition that will require a significant deal of consumer maturing and education. Brands that deliver on consumer expectations are in a better position to have long term success. Thus the big question becomes, “what do consumers expect from a cannabis brand?” and we’ll present those insights in future posts.

In summary, while there are differences, our initial insights into the Canadian consumer indicates more than a few similarities. Where the real differences exist is in the implementation of legal frameworks to govern the emerging cannabis market. Time will tell if Canada’s experiment in practicality on a national level, or the US’s patchwork approach, yields bigger wins for consumers and their respective tax dollar loving, but generally cannabis hating, governing bodies.

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developing a data-driven digital strategy for cannabis websites with google analytics

developing a data-driven digital strategy for cannabis websites with google analytics

Okay, it’s time for your cannabis business’s digital marketing program to get serious. Hopefully, you already have Google Analytics installed on your cannabis website. Unfortunately in 9 of 10 digital marketing programs we audit the implementation of Google Analytics is minimalist if implemented at all. To take the next step with Google Analytics and your digital marketing, you need to do more than the basics of counting visits to your site. You need to improve the picture created by the data generated by your website. But where do you start?

ideal customer personas

Who is this person? What drives them? What actions on your website would you like them to do? Start by looking at the profiles of your best customers. What attributes are shared by the top 20%? It typically won’t take long for the similarities to emerge. Talk to your best salespeople and get a sense of who it is at these firms they’re talking to. Your sales team should have a good grasp of what motivates this audience. Document these and publish them throughout your organization.

goals for tracking success

Setting up tracking goals in Google Analytics is an easy way to determine if visitors are doing what you want them to when they reach your site. The persona you developed will help identify and prioritize goals. Google Analytics allows for setting of a variety of goals and those might include sales (ecommerce enabled websites), form submissions (lead generation sites), engagement to assess effectiveness of content, or ideally a combination.

Google Analytics - Contact Page Goals

Think about the other activities on your site that indicate your connecting with the right audience. These may include visits to key pages (e.g. product detail pages), downloads (e.g. PDFs, case studies), video plays, or other site interactions you define. In addition to goal tracking Google Analytics allows tracking of site interactions via Event Tracking such as Flash and AJAX elements, site widgets, gadgets and other site content.

data filters

The old adage garbage in, garbage out holds true for analytics. Filters in Google Analytics enables removing data so that the visits from out of market or irrelevant audiences don’t cloud your view. One audience that is often overlooked when filtering is your own. Traffic can be excluded from specific domains and IP addresses. If the objective is gaining insights on perspective customers you’ll want to exclude traffic from your own organization. Filters can be used to isolate traffic. For example you may want to see how traffic to a particular subdirectory is interacting with site content.

For organizations that cater to geographic markets filters are essential. Out of market data is going to be an impairment to gaining valuable insights. Google Analytics includes both predefined filters to easily include/exclude certain traffic and custom filters to more precisely find your audience.

Google Analytics Filters

advanced segments

Occasionally you may want to analyze subsets of traffic. Advanced segmentation allows audiences to be isolated such as paid traffic, organic or mobile that led to conversions. Attributes of your site data can be broad (e.g. new vs. returning) or very specific such as visitors from a key location by way of a targeted campaign to select content.

Similar to Filters  you can use pre-defined segments or create custom segments in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Advanced Segments

Google Analytics Demographics

custom dashboards and reports

What’s data without a report? Google’s got you covered here as well. In addition to the standard report views in Google Analytics, custom reports and dashboards can be created with a few clicks. Recently Google has developed a community oriented gallery of reports submitted by analytics professionals.  The custom dashboards can be edited and modified to suite your specific needs.

The key to a good dashboard is that it is focused and specific which leads to better readability. The ability for viewers to easily understand will improve absorbing the story your telling with the information. Dashboards tend to be more visual and high level. Reports add a layer of depth and may be more time-based. Think of a dashboard in your car. It communicates current status. A report will communicate relative performance over time.

Google Analytics Custom Dashboards and Reports

Now to bring this full circle think about what’s important to your ideal customer persona. Those attributes should be reflected in the data communicated via dashboards and reports. It’s easy to lose yourself in data. Even a modest website has the potential to generate a lot of data. When starting down the data analytics path keep it simple. There’s plenty of time to add complexity.

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info@thematters.group

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cannabis websites – top considerations for building a website

cannabis websites – top considerations for building a website

 

 

The fundamentals – why we, as business owners and marketers – do what we do doesn’t change much when we move from brick-and-mortar to the virtual, digital space in which so many of us do business nowadays. That’s why we explain to our clients that their website really is their virtual “flagship storefront.” While everything changes, it really all stays the same.

In this blog post we’ve put together ten considerations for developing a website for your cannabis business.

1. customer acquisition

A fresh new website is one of the best marketing tools and vehicles to acquire new patients. A well designed, mobile friendly website that is fast will help convert a potential new patient. The website also represents the company and the brand. An old website sends the wrong message to potential patients.

2. mobile compatibility

More and more patients are using mobile devices to get information about the clinic. Recent statistics indicate mobile internet traffic (smartphones, tablets) accounts for around 50% of all internet traffic globally and continues to grow at double digit rates. In the US, mobile usage is even higher. Mobile users have notoriously short attention spans so if the website isn’t mobile friendly users will go somewhere else

3. usability

Usability on the current site is very challenging. Users can search on non-existent information and end up with blank results making patient acquisition much harder. A new site will address this by focusing on usability of the site and making sure that patients can find the information they need as quickly as possible.

4. organization

The current site’s organization and navigation are overwhelming and confusing. Navigations are both on the left and the top which is not best practice. The new site will greatly improve the user experience by consolidating the navigation to the top and allowing the menus to be mobile friendly as well.

5. modern design

The current website’s design is old and outdated. The new site’s design will leverage the latest design best practices and conform to responsive design for smartphones and tablets. Since the website is such an important part of an organization’s marketing efforts, it’s important to project to your target audience that your brand is up to date and up to the latest standards and technology. An old, outdated website may not give that impression to current and potential customers or clients.

6. modern technology

Your current site uses outdated technology that is no longer widely supported. Outdated technologies are typically harder to support, more costly to support and can be vulnerable to the latest security threats.

7. smart use of information

Visitors will be able to easily find product or service information, hours, phone numbers and contact information. Customer testimonials can displayed on pages with other trust marks to gain confidence of site visitors. 

8. integration

When a website is controlled by a vendor it is much more difficult to make any customizations and integrations. A new site needs to allow easy integration with current technologies that enable and foster a better user experience or collection of data for use in other systems. 

9. performance

A site that is very slow to load is a poor user experience and will be downgraded by Google in search results making your site harder for searchers to find. Internet users nowadays expect up to date, fast and mobile friendly sites. Google prefers sites that load fast as this is part of the user experience they provide their users. So all else being equal, Google will rank faster loading sites higher than the slow poke. An old, outdated site sends a bad message to patients and potential patients. 

10. site management

New content management system technologies enhance site management functionality allowing your IT or marketing department to easily make updates and changes to the site and SEO elements. An up to date CMS will allow for the easy management by leveraging new technologies that result in greater efficiencies.

Some questions to consider:

      • Is the current website a help or hindrance to marketing efforts?
      • Does the current website represent what the brand stands for?
      • Does the current website allow visitors to learn about products and services easily and quickly from any device they are using?

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(206) 420-6121
info@thematters.group

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developing a winning digital marketing strategy for cannabis businesses

developing a winning digital marketing strategy for cannabis businesses

Winning is the core of any strategy. Whether you’re a one-person start up or with a corporation: you want to win. Even a non-profit wants to win for the audience they serve.

“… a strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of five choices: a winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities, and management systems.” – Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

When flushed out, the five choices provide a framework that will lead to your custom digital marketing playbook for your cannabis business.

1. what is your winning aspiration?

Every organization has a purpose. What’s yours? The winning aspiration isn’t the same as a mission or vision statement. It is a set of aspirations of what your ideal future will look like for your digital marketing program when your goals have been achieved?

2. where will you play?

Choosing where you’ll compete for digital customers will have a critical impact on resource allocation. Keep in mind attempting to be all things to all possible customers is a losing strategy. Considerations include:

    • In which markets: local, regional, national, international?
    • Which customers: online only, drive in-store purchase, multi-channel?
    • Which channels: search engine optimization vs. social communities vs. paid media?
    • Which device categories: mobile, tablets, or desktop?
    • Which stage of customer:  acquiring new vs. building a loyal base?

3. how will you win?

After determining where you will play for customers, you need to define how you will win. Getting “the win” requires creating value that is sustainable and unique from your competitors. This is why your customers chose you over the competition. If you and your competitors all have websites that have similar looks, offers, or purchase processes you’ll need to set your company apart from the pack.

4. what capabilities must be in place to win?

Capabilities are the collective competencies available to execute specific where-to-play and how-to-win choices. Do you have business analysts, content creators, community managers, SEO talent, paid search experts, web & app developers, graphic designers, digital media planners, strategists, etc. either internal or external to execute? Given what you plan to execute you’ll need the right skillsets available to you.

5. what systems are needed to support the strategic choices?

The old adage of “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” holds true. The systems need to accurately convey if execution of the strategy is on the mark and delivering results. For the digital marketer a good starting point is your website analytics platform. Are you really making use of it to 1) make informed decisions and 2) is it configured to do so? Be honest.

Nearly everyone has Google Analytics installed and 9 of 10 installations we look at only scratches the surface of its capabilities. Dig deeper and explore features which provide insights beyond the basics of impressions and clicks.

In closing the process of developing a winning strategy is an iterative process. There are many components, moving parts and individuals that have valuable insights. Assemble a team that can lend differing perspectives and regularly ask yourself critical questions about how well you’ve developed a digital marketing playbook and if you’re following the game plan.

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Seattle

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(206) 420-6121
info@thematters.group

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Why matters.?

Why matters.?

In 2009 I had no intention of starting a company. I was co-founder of a digital agency that had made a name for itself as Google AdWords came to dominate digital marketing. As things would play out by the end of March I found myself without a job and without any prospects all while the general economy was still recovering from The Great Recession. Boohoo for me.

So I did what I knew and started out on my own launching  Confluence Digital. Along the way came I-502 in Washington State and with interest I watched the momentum grow. I’ll be completely honest, as the law came to be the newly legal cannabis market was primarily attractive as a business opportunity.  After attending several meetups and starting to learn about the market, I assumed all these businesses would want to work with us – and Canna Ventures was born. Boy was I wrong and about to be humbled.

Having not consumed regularly since I moved from San Diego 20 years prior, I needed to reacquaint myself with cannabis. I had a lot to learn, but learn I did. I read or watched nearly everything I could get my hands on. It was the learning journey from which a change in my thinking developed. Cannabis was no longer the recreational pursuit for me it was in college. During my time away from the plant it had evolved into something more.

As I poured myself into learning about cannabis one element stuck with me the most. Reading and seeing the stories of families that would risk everything, uproot their lives and move to regions where they could legally have access to cannabis as a treatment option. YouTube videos of children often with debilitating epileptic seizures seemingly gain relief in minutes struck a particular nerve.

My own cousin, Arlene, was a mother of soon to be teenagers, a wife and a preschool teacher. She had battled epilepsy since she was young. As the seizures grew worse, the prescribed meds more powerful and equally debilitating, she could no longer work. The meds that were prescribed to help overtook her. Depression set in. And she committed suicide. I don’t know if cannabis would have helped, but I do know it wasn’t an option.

Realizing that our government wastes billions on a failed drug war, much of it against a plant makes my stomach turn. The resulting mass incarcerations feed the prison industrial complex people of color as a convenient byproduct leveraged by conservative agendas. It’s more than injustice, it’s a disgrace. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, over $1 Trillion has been spent fighting the war on drugs in the last 40 years. I can only imagine what benefits our country would have if schools, health care and infrastructure would have received those funds instead of militarizing local police forces.

The rebranding of Confluence Digital and Canna Ventures into the matters. group is a culmination  (yes, small ‘m’ and that period). It’s a refocus on priorities we feel are important—on what really matters.

We haven’t put our lives or livelihoods at risk like the original growers and fighters for social justice in the name of cannabis have. We acknowledge we’re able to benefit from the sacrifices made by others. Hopefully we can apply our understanding of consumers, data and marketing to help cannabis companies with a mission to improve the lives of their customers.

As a company we’ll strive for success but not as measured by the social media adulation. Rather it will be the reward and satisfaction that comes from collaborating with other talented people and empowering others to achieve success. Some may not like that we are emphasizing our commitment to the cannabis industry. That’s fine. We won’t hold their prejudices against them. We’ll simply work harder for those with the same commitment to what matters.

locations

Seattle

The Bay Area

contact

(206) 420-6121
info@thematters.group

hours

Mon - Fri : 8am–6pm PST

Sat - Sun: Closed