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In this Growers Spotlight, Hunter Wilson of Growers Network interviews Adrian Sedlin, CEO of  Canndescent, about their marketing and branding strategy and how it impacts the cannabis industry as a whole.

Delivering a More Intelligent Product

Canndescent has a slick marketing presence. How did you create that?

There’s no marketing “trick” out there that guarantees that you will sell well or be received well. Instead, you need to have a solid business plan. Let me break it down for you:

  1. Identify problems in the industry that need solving.

For investors to invest in you, they need to know that you’re solving a real problem for consumers.

    2. Determine realistic solutions to the problems you identified.

Your solutions need to focus on what is realistically achievable with a limited budget.

What problems did Canndescent identify in the industry?

There were a number of problems we identified in the market, so I’ll list them off:

Not much high-quality product is available on the market.
The supply of cannabis is incredibly inconsistent and periodic.
Cannabis is very intimidating and confusing for new consumers.
Much of the current branding and marketing is too counterculture and misogynistic to achieve a wide market.
Toxic products and opaque production practices are inherently anti-consumer.

In short, we found that the market was inconsistently producing average quality cannabis that was sold in confusing and intimidating ways to customers unaware of the potential risks behind the product.

How did Canndescent solve those problems?

We worked backwards from the problems we identified. Since we wanted to produce top tier, simple, and healthy products on a consistent basis, we focused on the best ways to do that. Here’s what we came up with:

Provide our own, top-shelf cannabis to the California market, with as few pesticides involved in production as possible.
Do away with countercultural marketing and branding, and focus on appealing to the mainstream consumer.

And last, but perhaps most importantly, we recognized that new cannabis consumers shop for cannabis-based on how it makes them feel, not the name behind the strain. We designed our “effects” branding strategy to emphasize how certain cannabis strains will make you feel. We curated several strains to create certain effects for the consumer, numbered from 101 all the way to 599. These effects are:

Calm (100s): Meant to induce a feeling of calm and serenity.
Cruise (200s): Meant to induce a feeling of lightened euphoria, but not couch-lock.
Create (300s): Meant to induce a feeling of focus and creativity.
Connect (400s): Meant to be a gentle euphoria to allow a person to socialize better.
Charge (500s): Meant to energize and drive a person.

We keep track of the strain names, cannabinoids, and terpenes on the backend for our growers’ purposes, but the end consumer doesn’t mind all too much about those things.
Philosophy

What’s your view on the current political climate surrounding cannabis?

The current economic and political climate is actually very healthy for cannabis businesses, even if it’s not the best for legalization as a whole:

Because cannabis is still a schedule one drug, would-be big players are kept out of the industry; Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Alcohol, Big Tobacco, etc., cannot enter the industry. Small mom-and-pop shops can be successful without fear from the economies of scale these kinds of big players could create. Additionally, the Cole Memo and Rohrabacher-Farr amendment take the teeth away from the federal government.

Thus, we’re operating in an environment where there’s still a very high perceived risk, but our actual risk is much lower. Cannabis as a product still commands a very healthy risk premium due to that perceived risk.

And it might seem naive of me, but I don’t think Jeff Sessions will be as big of a threat as he appears to be. The reality is that cannabis is an economic powerhouse waiting to be tapped, and science and ethics are behind cannabis’ medicinal value.

What have been your biggest successes?

Great question. We’ve made some pretty big plays, and so far they’ve seemed to pay off. We’re the first cultivator in the US who doesn’t sell strains; rather, we sell effects. This idea has taken root and is showing great acceptance in the marketplace. We’re really proud of it.

What have been some of your biggest challenges?

One time we lost our entire garden to an infestation of Fusarium and mold. However, we learned a lot from that experience. It taught us to implement strict IPM protocols, including quarantining, prevention, and appropriate treatment. Nothing comes into the grow now unless we’re certain it’s safe. We keep the whole grow clean and monitor regularly.

What current challenges are you facing?

There are not enough hours in the day. Recently I’ve gotten licensing opportunities landing on my desk from all over. Finding the one or two that will create long-lasting value for our company is difficult. I wouldn’t say that it’s a green rush. It’s a green marathon.

This article has been paraphrased with permission from Growers Network.

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