Party Like a Marketer Podcast

Episode 57: Understanding Retail Media in Cannabis Marketing

Episode Description

Explore the evolving landscape of retail media and its pivotal role in the cannabis marketing mix, as Jon Lowen, Surfside Co-Founder and Co-CEO discusses best practices, common mistakes, and strategies for success.

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Read the Transcript

Lisa Buffo  00:11

Hi everyone, welcome to party like a marketer, the podcast dedicated to cannabis marketing, public relations and authentic storytelling. I’m your host Lisa buffo, the founder and CEO of the cannabis Marketing Association. CMA is the producer of this podcast, and our guests are CMAs members. They are experts from across all verticals in the cannabis industry, who come on the show to share their unique experience and lessons with the audience. If you are interested in joining the cannabis industry or learning more about cannabis marketing, please visit us at the Cannabis marketing You can connect with our membership team to learn more about member benefits. We host regular webinars, events and produce content in the form of blogs, white papers, and downloadables to help members do their jobs better every day. Now let’s hear from today’s guest. John Lowen, is currently the CEO and co founder of Surfside Solutions, Inc, a fully connected marketing platform that simplifies how advertisers and retailers onboard their first party data for media activation, audience segmentation and omni channel measurement. John is a proven leader in the advertising tech industry, implementing strategies that deliver results across business operations and product development. Previously, John was the Chief Strategy Officer at Seto mobile, where he was at the helm of growth strategy acquisitions and business development, as he helped increase revenue 40x over his tenure to a market cap of over 250 million. And prior to that John was the Chief Operating Officer and lead operations and product at multiple companies, including double vision and carbon Media Group. Welcome, John to today’s episode. Thanks so much for joining us on the show.

Jon Lowen  02:01

Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

Lisa Buffo  02:03

Yeah. So John, could you introduce yourself to the audience and tell us a little bit about who you are? What was your background before you got into cannabis and how and why did you start Surfside and tell us about service? Service? I do.

Jon Lowen  02:19

Yeah, so I’m, I’m John Lowen, one of the co founders and CO CEO at Surfside. Surfside is an end to end marketing platform that is focused on the cannabis industry. But we are building kind of forward looking at ad tech for advertisers, brands, agencies retailers, the goal for us is really to make it really simplistic for people to onboard their first party data, and then use it to create personalized experiences for marketing or retail monetization. Ultimately, creating a more efficient, cost efficient performance platform for you to deliver omni channel media. I come from the advertising space. I started off actually at a hunting and fishing advertise ad tech company. So that business was was really it was my first foray into the advertising vertical, we are industry we basically went around and found hunting and fishing websites that didn’t have any advertisements on them and said, Hey, we can bring you really relevant ads from Chevy Silverado or John Deere or Remington Arms at a time when the Google ads were just kind of providing you click like links within a display unit. And they weren’t really relevant to the experience themselves. But it was like I say that I started off in like a vise category where we were advertising for ammunition and guns and kind of the hook and bullet industry. And which Google did not allow those type of advertisers within the platform. So we brought kind of endemic brands to those sites, and ended up selling that business moving into the location based and mobile business. So working in location and mobile provided us a way to understand like how you can understand consumer behaviors based on movement patterns. We got really good at understanding who went to a Best Buy, but we didn’t necessarily know if they’re buying an HDMI cord, or a Samsung TV and we wanted to with Surfside what we wanted to do is really understand the full purchase journey and the full all the different customer touchpoints that might exist leading up to that purchase event. Hence why we created Surfside really to capture data from POS systems, econ platforms, low loyalty, CRM, whatever your website, competitive foot traffic data all being able to then utilize that to understand the consumer journey to run better marketing campaigns.

Lisa Buffo  04:59

Awesome. And what year did you start the company? How long have you guys been in cannabis?

Jon Lowen  05:04

We started in 2018. We got involved in cannabis because, uh, we had, we had some, some former, a former board member of ours that we worked with had required a bunch of dispensaries and said, Hey, can you help us create a marketing edge, and it kind of pointed us in this direction. And we did, we were building up the solution around identity and, and we had experience with location, which was a big component of compliance, we saw that kind of that the advertising ecosystem within cannabis was a little outdated, you know, maybe didn’t have a ton of kind of forward looking partners or technologists in the space who were bringing this level of bringing this level of targeting and information into the solute into the industry. And so we said, hey, this would be a really great area for us to kind of prove out the efficacy of our technology, but also bring some mainstream technology to the industry where it was really a need, right. Like, at the time, there wasn’t really programmatic, there wasn’t specific targeting in place based off of foot traffic or based off of purchase data. Measurement wasn’t a real existent as it related to like return on adspend and being able to tie stuff back to an online sale or in store sale. So we brought a lot of that into the into the industry and have been able to continue to grow over the last five, six years as as a result.

Lisa Buffo  06:31

And where are you based?

Jon Lowen  06:34

We’re We are based in New York. We’ve got people in offices across the US. But we operate across the US and Canada. Cool. Okay.

Lisa Buffo  06:45

And when we were prepping for this, you know, you had told me about, and I know a bit about SERPs, sides of evolution over the years since 2018. But it seems like you’re focusing now more on what you defined as retail media. And what that means for marketers, can you define what retail media is for cannabis marketers? And how should they be thinking about it? Like, what what have you seen as that journey or evolution in the last six years? Where was it? How was it changed? And what kind of framework should marketers have?

Jon Lowen  07:20

Yeah, we’ve always we’ve always prided ourselves. Rich. Retail media, in its simplest form, is the ability to advertise or merchandise within the E commerce within a retailer’s e commerce site or app. Right. So it’s, it’s commonly used by brands that are being sold within the marketplace, store economy environment, and is looking for some type of exposure. Within within that experience. I always like to go to kind of Amazon and Walmart has really good examples of how retail media is really thrive. But the evolution of it has kind of been in tandem with the growth of E commerce. And I think that in 2020, with the pandemic, a lot of a lot of people shifted from E commerce has always been a growing component of all sales. Now, I think it’s closer to 16% of all retail sales are online. And that 16% Yeah, one, six. And there was a biggest acceleration during the pandemic, for obvious reasons. And I think that that wasn’t necessarily it was inevitable that we were going to get there, it just happened much sooner. And it will continue to grow and become a much larger portion of the shopping experience. Not only that there’s a lot of intent and a lot of exploration that happens online within these ecommerce environments. And so as a marketer, it’s really important to be able to communicate and be present where people are spending time and where decisions are happening. And there’s no greater decision, there’s no greater point in the decision process than at the ecommerce store when people are making online purchases. And so it’s a really, it’s a really strong moment or purchase point to influence the consumer, which is why retail media has really kind of come up as this really hot, like hot topic or consistent conversation within not only cannabis, but the larger ecosystem as we start talking about, like digital overall and media buying as a whole. I think I think the latest data is that retail media will be around 25 of all digital ad spending by 2025. So it is definitely a very fast growing segment of the digital ecosystem as it relates to advertising.

Lisa Buffo  09:52

Do you by chance know what it was before the pandemic, like 16 Seems kind of low to me relatively speaking. I didn’t know that number but And for all like retail purchases, but do you know what it was before the pandemic? Like how quickly did it get there? What was the bug that that saw?

Jon Lowen  10:09

I don’t, I actually just read that in a digital shelving report recently from I recommend if people want to read it was from the Mars agency that I pulled that from that stat from. But I find that a lot of things like if you look at like what happened specifically in cannabis, right? A lot of marketing spend for brands was with budtender education. It was in store merchandising, you see people like put displays and end caps in place in mainstream and mainstream retail. When when cannabis became kind of a, I’m blanking on the name was that what do we call an essential business? Yeah, I think maybe that’s a good thing that I’m trying to phase out the pandemic. But when it was named an essential business, a lot of those companies were doing online ordering and in store pickup or curbside pickup. And so there was a huge shift in people like, hey, we don’t really have any focus on E commerce or our website, or digital presence at all. And so it was a huge accelerator for cannabis more so than other verticals, in my opinion. Because I to me, there, there wasn’t much emphasis at that at the time around the digital presence of stores. And so it’s been a, it was a massive accelerator for the cannabis vertical. And one of the things that I think people retail, like when we talk about retail media, in its involvement in the broader sense, it’s it, it gives a, it’s a personalization effort, you know, it’s another unit, it’s a way to merchandise a product, right. And when you’re in that experience, and being able to visit, whether you’re searching for an electric toothbrush or the you know, a pre roll, right, you want to be able to render results that are relevant at the same time. And it’s giving you the ability to like look at video and a product or more offers or more creative or imagery that might highlight the value prop of this product, right. And as that ties to like digital merchandising, you look at like a product listing page. At Amazon, you see 360 views, you see the ability to product compare against where this ranking is within the category, this is the best sold product and baby toys, and I have 16 months, that’s all I think about as cannabis and baby toys now. But yeah, there’s there’s these other elements within those product listings that are very important in the purchase process. And I think that cannabis is catching up. And this component allows people to kind of shop in a way that they’re accustomed to, that helps them kind of differentiate among the 1000s of SKUs that might be available to them when they’re there’s been this maybe lack of education as I like, you know, it’s I’m not the only one who says that is lack of education as a relates to kind of like what is the value prop of this pre roll or this flower versus that flower we talked about, like terpenes and you know, THC versus CBD and you know, different elements of the composition. But I think that there’s there’s been a there’s other elements that we can bring from mainstream verticals that would really benefit the shopping experience and the consumer experience as it relates to further educating between the difference between brands and products and SKUs and what outcome based you know, desires or symptoms they’re looking to solve for.

Lisa Buffo  13:48

That makes sense and maybe you just answered that this but can you explain more in sort of tease out like the role of retail media in the marketing mix like and I agree with you and echo that there. The pandemic was a big shift towards e commerce and like online ordering things that partly because of the regulations partly because of infrastructure the industry didn’t really have a focus on but from what I’m hearing from you retail media is both the online e commerce aspect in that real estate as well as in store display. I like advertising as a point of sale in that physical experience when customers are walking in. So like, holistically what is the role of retail media in the like broader marketing next for cannabis businesses. Like how, how important is it and do you see any differences between kind of how you approach in store versus online or any main differentiators that marketers should know about?

Jon Lowen  14:53

Yeah, at a very high like, you’re correct. It can be you can have ads in store they can be on the The point of sale that can be on the store menus, there could be tons of different elements of how this how is actually portrayed. But ultimately that high level, it’s you’re influencing consumer at the point of purchase. And that’s, that’s the main goal, right? Where this fits within within the media mix is that it definitely, historically has kind of been more of a lower funnel tactic. I mean, people people have kind of bucketed in that lower funnel, they say, Hey, I’m doing my brand awareness from targeting someone with a video ad on Buzzfeed or USA Today, and then bringing them to a site and then once they’re on site, I’ll be able to influence a search or influence a purchase at within the shopping experience. And so they would, they kind of have other tactics to bring them to that moment. We the platform are both off site, and on site referring to that full funnel end to end solution within Surfside. So we have a lot of familiarity with that. But retail media itself can actually be everything as well, like, you can run video, you can run branding elements, you can influence more or less lower funnel experiences and utilize the data sets and retarget to bring people back. So you really can it’s a really flexible medium, as it relates to like the marketing mix. Within like, retail media, like one thing that we want, that we were very specific with when we launched our solution is that we wanted to be able to support multiple creative types. Multiple different experiences, allow the retailer’s to really own it, and customize where their placements would be. So if they want to run product listings, they can run product listings, those are more like native, native looking units within the shopping experience that would look similar to any product listing within the site. But it would just maybe be marked as sponsored, right, where we also want to be able to provide banners and videos and other elements where on the homepage or within the menu on product pages within the cart post checkout. So I think that flexibility is really important, which is in which also allows this to be a full funnel approach for people. We talk a lot about retail media being like authentic impressions or authentic people, we want to create more of these authentic experiences, which as we know, these are real people shopping at this time on quality inventory. And that’s a really valuable asset within marketing. And our goal is really to create this ecosystem across cannabis. But we’ve also expanded to other verticals to create the same thing that we’ve done here in cannabis within, you know, liquor and retail and convenience, right. And so it’s just a, it’s a people are yesterday, people want to be on the ESPN is in Buzzfeed and USA Today to the pseudo news apps on your phone. But at the same time, those are still one or two steps away from the purchase process, right. So if we can create a full funnel approach within these ecosystems that are just that much closer to the point of purchase, there’s there’s real benefit there for the consumers. And there’s real benefit there for the retailers who are able to create a better user experience and drive more sales and stronger conversion rates on their site.

Lisa Buffo  18:24

And I imagine there’s a few different like ways in terms of best practices to approach it. Like, if I was a retailer, you could you know, try to increase basket size, you could try to push a certain specific brand, you could try to sell accessories like that there’s a lot of different goals that you could have. And I imagine based on your goal, there would be different approaches to that strategy. But can you speak a bit to what are some of the best practices for when you’re planning and implementing retail media campaigns that might be different from other other channels?

Jon Lowen  19:00

Yeah, I think that with anything, one thing we found early is like we like creative ideas, really a strong component like how retail media can be activated as with like, kind of Native Assets, where you kind of have a brand image and some copy, and then it gets placed within the format of the E commerce environment itself. So it looks native to that experience. And so like, if we have a variety of assets and copy, we can kind of prioritize products that are selling better, right? And so the flexibility of being able to like dynamically create content based off of an audience or a shoppers, previous purchases or their their interests that we’ve identified across maybe other shopping environments is a really big component of what we’re solving for. Because that’s what really drives performance not only for the ads itself, but for the retailers and This is a two sided economy here are ecosystem where we want, we want the retailers to see more sales. So they can continue to invest and drive marketing to the site, which then allows brands to continue to influence more consumers and sell their products, right. And so there’s this flywheel effect that exists where the brands can help drive revenue to these retailers and the retailers can continue to improve the efficacy and the performance on site, which ultimately drives more sales for the retailers or for the brands as well. But I think that like that’s one big component of it is ensuring that there is an element of personalization, we have the ability to kind of optimize campaigns readily. Another big component of outside of creative is scale, we find that like as a as a brand, you want to be across your entire footprint. Where were we today, actually, this is wisefully, I’m assuming will be released maybe next week or in the coming days. But as as of today, as we’re recording this we just announced a partnership with Blaze EECOM, where Surfside will be powering commerce media across their ecommerce, ecommerce store or their e commerce, software providers and retailers. So for us, our goal is to be available across all EECOM. Right and all retailers we want to create the scale. So people can have a single point like as a brand, you want to be able to go to one destination to buy across all your stores, you don’t want to have to go to Jane and duchy and blaze and trees independently to buy a subset of stores. Because ultimately, being able to optimize where where sales are performing and be able to invest in these specific areas at scale is the value prop of this in and that’s what we built that serves as the ability to scale across agnostically across all these retailers and providers.

Lisa Buffo  21:55

And what does lazy comm do? What’s their product.

Jon Lowen  22:00

So glazy comm it it, it is an online menu in order to power ecommerce menus, they also have a point of sale component to their business as well. But it’s a it’s a for us, we’re solely focused on helping them kind of through internet through our technology and then power retail media within their menus for the retailer so that brands that are in stock and on priority placement retailers can generate in that new income stream or revenue stream. But I know that they’ve they have kind of an ethos of strong partnerships in order to allow them to focus kind of on their e commerce and point of sale components of the business and together will kind of help build out the the other aspects as it relates to like the retail media offering.

Lisa Buffo  22:53

Okay, cool. So for a simple example, they might offer a like Shopify type solution for cannabis retailers in terms of the E commerce side. Exactly. Okay, cool. And so then when it comes to like implementing these retail media campaigns, what are the metrics that marketers should be paying attention to? Like, what what are those? What are those KPIs? And what is a good way to measure success? Like, how do you actually kind of define the ROI? What are you looking at there?

Jon Lowen  23:28

A lot of a lot of advertisers rely on kind of return on adspend as like the core metric of success. So a lot of our campaigns utilize that metric. As a standard. I think that there’s there’s definitely differ differing ways of measuring return on adspend, when you talk about, like, first touch versus last touch or view through versus click through single session attribution versus one day or seven day or 30 day, right. So I think that’s like, really important to understand kind of how your partner is measuring the success of the campaign and the definition of that metric, because there is variables that can change within return on adspend of how people define that. What we’ve been working with our clients on is, is making sure that they understand these other ancillary metrics that may be actually more important than return on adspend. Right, like, for example, you could be delivering a 5x return on adspend. But your profit margin is 10% on this on the sales, so you need to deliver a 20x return in order to be able to see a profitable return. And so looking at like profitable returns on adspend, looking at incrementality or lift. Some of the key things that we like to talk about is like the lifetime value of these customers, are they net new customers and what is that value to you? As far as like repeat sales? These are a lot of metrics that we go deeper on that help kind of provide the full How you have these different sessions in these different campaigns? We, we also like to look at kind of this cool metric around like, Where does your, I think I mentioned it earlier I mentioned earlier with the like what Amazon does within their product pages, which is they say this is the number one ranked product in this category. So it helps you kind of confirm like, I am buying the best electric toothbrush, or I am buying the best tent, or whatever it may be. But that’s something that we actually talk about a lot is like, Hey, you are the you before your campaign started, you were the 10th best pre roll across your retail stores or your footprint. And now you’re the third best pre roll, you know, and there’s a lot of momentum and value in that as you look at placement and scale and volume. Sometimes it is necessary to grow a like a campaign on profitably to start in order to get the momentum that allows you to grow profitably in the long term, right. And these are things that you you kind of have to make business decisions on an understanding kind of what type of cash flow or runway you have in order to kind of invest. Because some, not all campaigns work day one, right? If that were the case, then every company in the world would be successful if they advertise. So there’s definitely a period of learning and optimization and partnership that needs to go into any campaign that’s retail media or a channel media mix that you create.

Lisa Buffo  26:26

Yeah, I appreciate that context of understanding your margins and profitability because positive return on adspend Yeah, it does take time to get there or it can. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re you’re making the money you need. So yeah, I’m glad that you mentioned that. So what also are common mistakes that you see, like what’s the is there any common cleanups, you see when you’re talking with your clients, or kind of misfires that we can share with the audience so that they don’t make those when approaching? Or any? You know, I guess outside of not measuring? Is there any common mistakes that you see marketers make in the retail media? Campaign environment?

Jon Lowen  27:12

Yeah, I think like, the examples and retail media are the mistakes we see are the same. We see just in standard marketing in general. Right. It’s it’s there needs to there needs to be other business goals that we’re you’re trying to achieve rather than just sales. Like there’s their use, there needs to be strategy behind these efforts, like, Are we are we looking to scale footprint in Massachusetts? Are we trying to ramp up sales for an underperforming SKU, right? Like, it’s, it’s not? It’s not only like, Hey, I’m making, I’m spending $1. And I’m making $3. Like, we always like to have a strategic business, outside of kind of benchmarks or KPIs. Right. And so I think that looking at this holistically is very important. Being able to understand, hey, I’m running retail media here. But what are you doing outside of that, like, you can run retail media campaigns at a store 24/7, it still would behoove you to be running search campaigns in order to influence Google search traffic to get people to those pages, right. And it still makes sense to run connected TV and video, because there’s a lot of time spent in everyone’s daily lives consuming video content right now. And it’s, like I mentioned earlier, it’s important to be where people are spending their time. So looking at things a little bit, sometimes at a macro level is really beneficial to the overall media plan. Being able to understand the ins and outs of kind of the metrics that we were just discussing as well like being saying, hey, yes, I understand the the value of a return on adspend. But what this means for me from customer acquisition versus retention, right, one of the key things we see a lot with our partners is, Hey, I am getting a 40x return on adspend from my, from this other vendor, or that’s my expectation. Like, that’s really awesome, you should stay with them. Or it’s like, hey, it’s Hey, what let’s let’s dive into that, like, how is it being measured? What is the what is the conversion event that we’re talking about? Is it based off of IP? Or is it based off of like a specific user agent? Is it like an email or a phone number, something that’s more deterministic. There’s a lot of devil in the detail type of stuff here. A lot of the times people will just run retargeting campaigns. And so you’re just reaching the same people over and over again, and you’re actually not driving any net new sales. So being able to kind of differentiate the campaign goal like hey, I want to focus on retention, I want to focus on customer acquisition. I want to focus on underperforming units. I want to focus on you know, scaling my footprint into net new markets, right, like those are some of the things that I like to highlight. As other aspects to a campaign that you want to understand, um, outside of kind of your those core metrics, and then also like, be proactive in being proactive in the in the copy in the content, what you want to say like there’s a kind of bringing up these continuing themes. But I think that there’s been a miss in the market overall about talking about product and utility. Right. And, and educating consumers, especially when, like we talked so much about the people who are going to be successful are going to go after the people who are not yet cannabis consumers, yet, there’s 240 million Legal Aid consumers in the US. And, you know, 20, there’s 80% of the sales are coming from this heavy user. That’s something I’ve heard multiple times I’ve not valid that stat internally, but like the growth of the business will be to convert the people who are in that other 60 40% of people who have never tried cannabis. And so, I think that in order to do that, there’s a big opportunity for people to position like, when we were talking earlier, I mentioned Hey, I wear Hocus, like they kind of they feel like they kind of came out of nowhere, and like, but like everyone’s like, they’re so comfortable. They’re amazing. They use this new technology and this foam, and you’re like walking on air. And they they’re ugly, like nice. And I do not like how they look my feet. But they are very comfortable shoes, and my wife complains about them all the time. It’s like they age me. But a, like peep, that’s how they were sold to me, right? No one’s out there saying, hey, you need to try this pre roll, that is the best that makes you so happy. And it’s it, you can consume it at a higher rate. And you can do this more, and it makes you to jump higher. You know, like, I think obviously, there’s a, there’s a fine line in cannabis with kind of making false medical claims. But there is a component to talking about products that I think we should be discussing a little bit more from a branding perspective, also from a retail perspective, in order to start differentiating a little bit more between kind of the massive amounts of of solutions, or skews and opportunity or choices that are out there.

Lisa Buffo  32:25

Yeah, so it sounds like to sum up best practices. And I guess, conversely, mistakes is like, make sure you have a broader strategy. And so that what you’re doing in retail media is a component of executing on that strategy, but to not shy away from talking about product attributes and what it does, how it can help you how it can benefit you, from an educational standpoint, but also a marketing standpoint. Given that we do have that, and I’ll echo we’ve heard the same thing many times about the population and how, basically, the industry is really kind of competing for everyone’s customers like each other competitors customers. But it’s the still that same group, when there’s a much bigger group out there that needs messaging needs being talked to, and communication, because not only is there a massive opportunity, but they are showing interest, but they’re not being effectively addressed at the scale. I think the industry could really benefit from so. Yeah, thanks for summarizing that. Well, that being said, we’re gonna head over

Jon Lowen  33:28

to one more component to that is that I think that people really shy away from what we like, I think it’s, it’s somewhere between one and 3% of revenue is spent on marketing, right, and it’s all spent on these lower funnel tactics and performance. There’s a really big opportunity to someone to get out in front to spend that time and energy to convert those users and educate them and be ahead of the curve, like there’s ability to become a market maker. Right. And I don’t think a lot of people are investing in, in that, that open space in order to kind of be there when those people cross over. I think that that is an ultimate opportunity as well. Yeah,

Lisa Buffo  34:12

and even speaking from personal experience when I first moved to Colorado in 2014, like I will never forget my first time walking into a dispensary what that experience was like in that brand. And I was very loyal to that dispensary in that brand because I had such a good experience there. And I remember that more than any of my other subsequent purchasing events. And there’s something to be said about that where if you can get them in first have that memory and create a really good experience that it can also open up for brand loyalty once you do can convert those people. Okay, cool. So as of today, it’s March, early March but we know that 420 is coming up which is a big event in the cannabis industry and this year. It’s on a Saturday which is good last year. It was a Thursday we’ve looked at some of the data around this and last year, it was a kind of a 10 day long event, the marketing it started the week earlier this year. It’s a Saturday, but it is coming up and it’s coming up quickly. But it is an event based event for lack of a better word in retail. Can you speak to some of the best practices? Like what do you see what makes for 20 different from you know, your corner of the industry in business? What should cannabis marketers mean? They should already be thinking about it and executing on it, but like, what should they be thinking about at this point? And are there any other lessons from other industries around event based marketing that would benefit cannabis marketers to learn from?

Jon Lowen  35:41

Yeah, I think that we, we tell people to start planning now, right, but like as far as like, heavy apps or messaging, usually at the beginning of April is when we start to see that that happen. We can use we just published something, a study with the Trina group around the Superbowl, and even leading up to the Super Bowl two weeks before the Superbowl, we started seeing incremental spending that peaked on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, and the Saturday before the Super Bowl on the Sunday before the Super Bowl, were 100 and 109%. Greater than the the average daily span and 97% greater than the average daily spend year to date. You know, so really, really, those specific Super Saturday and Sunday. Okay, but the bulk bulk two weeks before we started seeing incrementally higher spends and the daily averages for all days leading up to it. And so it’s one thing I talked about misses again, it’s just people don’t utilize these opportunities to create other promotional opportunities. Like if you walk in front of a CVS at any given time, you’re going to see what the theme is, right? It’s Super Bowl, it’s Easter, it’s Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day, you know, like, Reese’s doesn’t come racist has a new shape. For every every event, right? There’s a reason for that. This these promotions work, right. And so I think that there’s an opportunity to cannabis to continue to message outside for 20 and 710. And green Wednesday, there’s Labor Day, there’s Memorial Day, there’s jersey, these are all massive sales days in the cannabis vertical, the beginning of the summer, the end of the summer, are huge as well. So think there’s really these tentpole events for 20. Sets obviously sets the tone for the entire year, but doesn’t always end up being necessarily like a like a far and ahead leader of the top sales day, like it can kind of launch what we what the expectation is going to be for those mainstream holiday sales events. But like for 20, last year, we you obviously you’re gonna see races across all categories. But I know we saw pre rolls increase at 166%, which was kind of the strongest leader in categories. And then overall, like, as your as your leading up like April, overall, like those leading update is 12% higher than than the first half of all sales in the first half of the year. So like those days are important days to capture consumers. And we see a lot of net new customers enter the market, these big 420 holiday events, because there’s so much mainstream media and like this honor earned kind of press that goes around as the industry as a whole. On the Earn medium. I’m not in PR. So I don’t know, I guess. Yeah, there’s this halo effect of the holiday. And coverage is so massive, and it’s like maybe I will try edibles today. You know, maybe this will be the day, right. And so a lot of people enter the market. And so it’s really important, like I said, to be ahead of it, and to be messaging and to be trying to capture those users. Because to your point exactly. That first experience. Everyone will remember, every new customer in the space remembers that first experience, and that needs to be solid, and it needs to be it needs to be a pleasurable and seamless and frictionless experience for those customers. And so if you can do that you can you can win loyal users for the long haul.

Lisa Buffo  39:27

Yeah, so think about it sooner. start executing and implementing sooner than later because it is it is coming up quickly. Is that report that you have publicly available? Is that something we could share?

Jon Lowen  39:42

Yeah, we the we have a publicly available report on our website. Happy to link to it are provided so you can link to it. Available as well. Yeah, and then we’re also we also will releasing kind of like our four 20 Grill bucks that’s in the coming week or two. So maybe we’ll have that ready as well, or you’d like to talk about the upcoming stats around 420. And this other things to plan for the in the coming quarter.

Lisa Buffo  40:14

Perfect. Well, that that actually tees up my next question, what are the other best practices that marketers should consider when approaching their marketing strategy this year can answer that however you want, whether it’s in context or retail or as a whole, but what what should marketers be doing?

Jon Lowen  40:33

I’m, I’m really big on retail media. I really think that it’s a just specifically in cannabis. Like when you talk about like, I’ll separate it from the brand Converse ation in the in the retailer conversation. Brands, there’s really, this is a such a fantastic channel for you as a brand, like performance aside, it is ads at the point of purchase, it’s in store, it’s online, there’s no better Avenue or channel in order to kind of advertise the value of your solution. I think it’s the winners will figure out how to do it perfectly. Right? Our goal as a business is not only to provide that inventory in that in that tunity but then work with our customers in order to find that mix, know what is it what products are resonating, what creative what imagery or copy what across what stores and then continue to evolve. So I think that’s a big, big improvement to what was available to them historically, which a lot of companies were doing. Were doing DTC before kind of the recent push that we’ve seen in beverage and kind of hemp derived THC. I think that that will be a big channel for people as well. We’re seeing a lot of requests and a lot of traction, as people push, DTC through meta through platforms like meta and the search in Google and Tik Tok or other channels that they search and social and kind of growth, we kind of call it like growth, putting channels, in tandem with some of these more programmatically bought vertical our media channels as well. I think that will be a trend this year, it’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out with just compliance and how those platforms handle kind of an influx of advertisers, historically being a little bit harsher on them. And that like they buy policies still don’t really allow them. But that will be something to kind of keep an eye on as well. But brands, I think that that’s kind of one of our best practices is kind of looking at trying to make sure that you are beginning to market and putting yourself in a position to be successful, not shying away from the education and the off platform component or the offset component to inform that on site traffic. For retailers. A lot of our focus has been on continuing to look at personalization, continuing to look at data collection, we’re very big on like owning your own data, your customers. So being able to unite data from your point of sale system from your econ provider from your CRM and loyalty programs, understanding who your segments are. So being able to say hey, these are my existing customers, these are my high value customers, these are my near market customers, my lapsed customers, and then we create unique plans for each one of those segments. Right? That to me, that’s that’s best practices right now is it step one is truly understanding who your customers are. And they don’t, you don’t need to create 1000 segments or micro segments or these people like these products. And by this and by that, I think if you can come up with really a core like high level view of who your customers are, and start communicating to them that like a five or 10, you know, type of segment level and then get more sophisticated over time. That is a really great first step. There’s not a lot of companies that we work with that have the team in place or the knoweth, or the desire to kind of even get to that point. And so we do love to work with them to try to push to create those different segments. So we can then start even further personalizing audiences and KPI goals and campaigns based on what what you’re looking to achieve, because it’s a lot easier to retain a customer than it is to acquire that new customer. And those have different goals and different performance expectations associated to it. And you’re willing to pay maybe a little bit more for a cut for a net new customer that you can retain over time. But then it’s important for us to sit and say, Hey, why aren’t we retaining them? Like let’s look at the other elements within the shopping experience that we might be able to help. So that’s another area that we’re beginning to explore that I think we Telemedia helps with is, Hey, are we driving conversion rates up? Are we driving more action and activity to your product listing pages? Are we the bounce rates going down? Right? And so these are other elements and metrics we can look at leading up to that purchase process, rather than just looking at the end. How are we getting there? It’s really important as well, an optimizing tweet to that point.

Lisa Buffo  45:24

Yeah, yeah, that’s a good point. And thanks for clarifying and mentioning about customer segments, because they are so important. And to have that data for them and what their customer lifetime value is, allows you to make decisions within context to each other and not just in a vacuum or in relation to revenue goals, because you got to get there somehow. And that math has to make sense. Well, John, is there anything else we haven’t talked about today? Or that you haven’t mentioned that you want to make? Sure you say, before we wrap up?

Jon Lowen  45:55

I always get asked that question. I was like, I feel like I said it all, you know, I never save I need to start saving, like, a big moment at the end for that final, that final question. So you like, Oh, this guy’s got nothing going on? No, I think that, like, I guess my, as a business, you know, for us like an update, like we are looking to find continue to find new ways to lead the way like we, I say this in a positive way that like, we are not looking to become an ad tech, the ad tech solution for cannabis, we want to become the ad tech solution for retailers and brands. Right. And we are constantly looking for ways to continue to improve our entire like how we approach advertising in general, how we’re going to be approaching retail media in general. Right, and, and so we want our solution to be just as effective for a Trulieve as it could be for Walmart. And I think that it’s important that you look at it that way for any of your vendors, and I encourage people to kind of look for the best in class solutions that are available to them. And I guess that’s our, our, our drive is you know, to continue to to not only solve for problems in cannabis, but solve for problems and been CPG and retail and direct consumer as it relates to really any industry or advertising protocol.

Lisa Buffo  47:30

Awesome. Well, any contact information, website, social email, anything you want to share with the audience, or how they can get in touch with you or the company.

Jon Lowen  47:39

We don’t have any of that stuff. So yeah, we, of course, of course, we got a website, it’s Also super, like super easy to reach out to us on LinkedIn, any of our websites or emails to usually just our first name [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]. I’m [email protected]. So feel free to reach out at any time.

Lisa Buffo  48:13

And it’s John J, O N, or anybody.

Jon Lowen  48:17

No, no, H O H, actually, Jon a th o n. Okay, as my mom spelled my name wrong on my birth certificate, and we went with it.

Lisa Buffo  48:31

Yeah. Well, John, I really appreciate you taking the time today to meet with us and share all this insight with the audience. Thank you.

Jon Lowen  48:39

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Lisa Buffo  48:41

Thank you all for tuning in. If you’d like to connect with the CMA community, please visit us at the Cannabis marketing You can sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with new episodes, tools and insight from us and hear from the marketing community. You can also follow us on social media at Canna marketing and connect with us on LinkedIn. And if you’re interested in learning more about membership, please reach out to our team at [email protected] See you next week.


— Transcribed by

Meet Your Host

LISA BUFFO, Founder and CEO of Cannabis Marketing Association

Lisa Buffo is an award-winning entrepreneur and marketer with a passion for launching companies with experience in both the cannabis and technology industries. Lisa is the Founder & CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association, a membership based organization focused on education and best practices for industry marketers with the vision of rebranding cannabis at the national level. She was named one of 2019’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars in Cannabis by Marijuana Venture Magazine in 2019 and named “The Marketing Guru” by Women & Weed magazine and is a featured speaker and media source in publications like Forbes, The Guardian, and VICE. You can find her on Instagram @libuff and Twitter @libuff21.

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