Kamryn Weisgerber On Growing The Cannabis Drinks Category
Cannabis Drinks Expo chats with Kamryn Weisgerber, marketing lead at Farmer Jane Cannabis Co. on Cannabis Drinks and how to grow the category.
Your Place Of Work
Tell us a little about your background and journey into Cannabis
For the last several years I have had a customer service background. There was nothing more I loved than helping people out through my work and feeling fulfilled by the connections I made at the end of the day. My cannabis journey followed this, being a long-time lover and consumer it felt like a natural transition. I started at the retail level bud tending with Farmer Jane almost 2 years ago. Through this, I learned so much more about the cannabis industry than I could ever imagine. I was lucky enough to be allowed to take on a bigger role with my position in Marketing at Farmer Jane Cannabis Co. This was a year ago, and ever since I have been diving head-first into this interesting and ever-changing industry.
Explain your current role
As Marketing Lead I oversee anything that has to do with our brand messaging. Anything from store-level display assets and promotional pieces, social media management, merchandise, advertising and so on. It is a tricky role due to the many many regulations placed on Cannabis companies and feels like a losing battle sometimes (especially with social media) but it has allowed me to be creative and innovative! I have made so many new connections and heard incredibly inspiring stories of my peers in the cannabis industry, and this role has opened up the doors to so many other possibilities.
Image source: LinkedIn Page
What trends do you see in cannabis beverages?
More and more recently I see companies moving away from the seltzer type drinks, and going after a new market. Cannabis-infused “mocktails” have become more and more popular, and even the companies that don’t label their products as a substitute for alcohol have pushed (mostly verbally) their beverage as a great addition to alcohol. With consumers, small drinks with 10mg always seem to sell the best. Recognizable flavors will always sell as well, Cola, Iced Tea, grapes, oranges, etc. Occasionally we saw the consumer looking for the light 2.5mg drinks, but most of the time, the stronger the better. This goes for flavor and cannabis.
What tips do you have on growing the category when it comes to product development?
Taste matters. People are sick of the soda waters that taste like old weed. Those in the "mocktail" space have to realize too, not everyone is switching out their booze for cannabis. It's a niche market, to begin with since everyone's preference for cocktails and beers is so different.
What are the 3 things that we can educate end consumers more on in growing end-consumer awareness?
What makes ingesting a cannabis-infused beverage different from a gummy or chocolate? Benefits to replacing alcoholic beverages on a night out with cannabis-infused beverages.
Which states / markets do you think present good growth opportunities for cannabis beverages in 2023-2024?
Not allowed in Canada yet, but if US regulations allow it, bringing cannabis beverages into bar spaces allow people to make the change from alcohol.
What do you think are the current challenges in the cannabis beverage category?
Taste: One of the most significant challenges for consumers is finding that beverage that tastes right to them. Many cannabis beverages have a distinct flavor that may not appeal to all consumers, leading to limited adoption. Cost: Cannabis-infused beverages can be more expensive than other types of ingestible, making them less accessible to some consumers. They all have that bottle tax attached to them as well, which can make or break the choice for certain customers. Dosage: Like all other edibles, many consumers find the 10mg regulation too small to change over from more traditional ways of consuming cannabis (smoking, vaping, dabbing). People still turn to the illicit market for many of their edibles since it doesn’t make sense to buy 5 beverages at an expensive price, just to get the buzz they want.
If you were to advise a first-time cannabis beverage consumer, what tips would you give?
It depends on the customer's needs. I would recommend starting with a lower-dose beverage. From personal experience, and based on customer feedback, infused drinks seem to hit people harder and quicker versus a gummy or chocolate. Most first-timers aren’t looking for a crazy high, so I recommend “sipping” the beverages, rather than chugging them down fast. I do also note that the drinks that have strong cannabis tastes may be off-putting to some people, so I always ask the customer whether that’s something they are looking to avoid or not.
Your favorite cannabis beverage brands?
Teapot (except it’s not available in my home province yet) Tweed Iced Teas, CANN
What do you look for when you purchase a cannabis beverage brand?
Flavor! Edibles and beverages don’t do much for me when looking for a buzz, but I do love trying them for flavor or using them to infuse my other beverages! I also look for the branding and messaging, CANN does a wonderful job of this. Aesthetics and messages I can get behind and support!
Any out-of-the-box ideas you have for bud-tenders in promoting and educating the cannabis beverage category?
Having non-infused samples for customers to try! We successfully did this at a few events in Saskatchewan, and it helped create buzz around certain brands.
If you were to make a new cannabis beverage today? What sort of product would you make and why?
I would try to become the “David’s Tea” of infused beverages, specifically infused tea bags. This seemed to be a growing trend when I first started a couple of years back, but it has been harder and harder to find infused tea bags. I still hear of customers looking for certain brands that they tried years ago. It almost seems like a natural pairing so I’m shocked I haven’t seen more companies do this yet! It is an approachable method for incorporating THC and CBD into nighttime routines, for seniors, and for anyone into wellness. Tea is safe for nearly every dietary restriction and also cuts the high amount of sugar you can find in many other brands of beverages.
If you were to market and distribute that cannabis beverage, what would be your top 3 areas you would focus on?
Nailing down a flavor profile, and incorporating natural terpenes and ingredients into the product. Branding and messaging. Figuring out who the target audience for the product is, and applying the right messaging to appeal to them. On top of this, having attractive in-store display assets and merchandise to provide to budtenders and customers. Limiting the number of SKUs to get 2-3 great products, and grow based on those. As much as having tons of selection is great, it can also be overwhelming for both customers and budtenders. Especially with the basic soda-water-based beverages, it is nearly impossible to remember every flavor from every brand.