By Marshall Ogen, Vice President of Business Strategy at CannabisBPO

Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”
(Seth Godin)

The cannabis industry must continually anticipate, and advance our customers’ needs. We need to design products that serve all of our customers. Although not exploited by Hollywood’s fiction machine, cannabis consumers vary from the backpack to the briefcase to the gardening bag, and yet, the cannabis industry primarily serves the customer base as if the majority are stereotypical Hollywood stoners. This is most often seen in product names and imagery. It’s time to think about the industry’s chosen imagery, nomenclature, and the laws of attraction.

Let’s think about the word ‘edible.’ Edible brownie. The moniker simply doesn’t extoll the plethora of quality and flavors available today. “How was your dinner?’ ‘It was edible.” The connotation was that the food was not good, but served a purpose. Place that same imagery to the edible brownie. The imagery of the edible brownie is dry, leafy and devoid of good taste. The industry should consider using the consumer packaged goods (CPG) lanes that already exist. For example, we have traditional brownies, gluten-free brownies, low-fat brownies, sugar-free brownies, and now infused brownies. By using the CPG lanes that are already familiar to the consumer, they’ll be able to navigate the cannabis industry with ease. A great case study in this is Baby Boomers.

Baby Boomers, almost completely ignored from a product or nomenclature perspective, are one of the largest growth sectors for cannabis. The Baby Boomer generation spends the most per month on cannabis across all customer demographics, significantly demonstrating that Baby Boomers are a very important component of the cannabis industry. Do we have product names and imagery that are comfortable for this consumer? Do we have labeling that is easier to read?

As an industry, we need to ensure we adopt the right universal terms beyond the product names and such. CannabisBPO Advisory Board member Craig Binkley summarized the importance of word choices about this term and others. Craig simplifies the nomenclature difference in a simple manner. “Children play recreational sports, townships have a Parks and Recreation Department.” The imagery of the word ‘recreation does not align with the message.’ And we haven’t made a definitive decision regarding the industry’s leading term, cannabis or marijuana? I’m on team cannabis due to the history of the word marijuana.

Let’s talk more about the Baby Boomers and a grandmother who discovered that cannabis is a great solution to assist with the challenges of her glaucoma. When she goes to the dispensary, which she views similar to a pharmacy, she is faced with products such as Alaskan Thunder Fuck, which is an actual strain, (or a similar strain names) for her glaucoma. Do we really want to make grandma feel like a stoner when she is purchasing her medication? This leads to quite the nomenclature chasm for many self-care patients on this journey from medicinal to medical.

We need to cater more to the growing cannabis consumer without alienating the legacy demographics. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel or change the past, but we do need to think of ways to evolve the cannabis culture to become more inclusive of the growing demographics such as baby boomers and 40+ women. Interestingly, the industry should be extremely proud that there are more female executives in cannabis than any other economic industry.

The legalized cannabis sector is still a nascent industry. Therefore, these nomenclature and product positioning terms are still evolving from the illicit market and its counterculture roots. As we grow as an industry, we don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. However, we do need to determine how much we want to evolve to match our industry products with the changing demographics of the new cannabis consumers.

To summarize with a quote by Matshona Dhliwayo, “The past is kind enough to give you lessons. The present is kind enough to give you opportunities. The future is kind enough to give you both.” Let’s make sure we use the past and present aspects of the cannabis industry to build a future that is inclusive of the entire cannabis consumer landscape.

CannabisBPO is a specialty provider of contact center services for the cannabis industry. With locations in Canada and the US, the company offers outbound and inbound contact center services in a 24/7 setting. The company’s core service channels are text, email, mail, phone, chat and social media for customer service, sales, and technical support projects. CannabisBPO helps cannabis companies drive revenue and mitigate risks. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Marshall Ogen is the VP of Business Strategy for CannabisBPO and has over 25 years of experience in outsourced contact centers, quality assurance, having consulted with many of the world’s most recognizable brands to ensure successful customer engagement activities. He is a strategic advisor to the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) Marketing and Advertising Committee and the co-chair of the Mid-Atlantic Professional Association of Customer Experience (PACE).