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'We Have A Responsibility': Cannabis Execs On The Importance Of Branding, Development

'We Have A Responsibility': Cannabis Execs On The Importance Of Branding, Development

Guests at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago last week heard from industry execs about their branding and corporate development during breakout sessions at the Palmer House. 


José Bacellar, president and CEO of Canadian pharmaceutical company VerdeMed, discussed the company's presence in Colombia, where it cultivates medical cannabis. 

Other company highlights include a development program with the Toronto Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology to produce three medicinal products.

"We have our drug development program with TIPT because we really believe pharmaceuticals is a solid path, dependent on what happens with the regulatory framework," Bacellar said. 

Abacus Health Products 

Celebrity partnerships are one avenue for cananbis brands to increase awareness.

Abacus Health Products Inc (OTC: ABAHF) has added three-time Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski — "Gronk" — to its team, said Jonathan Conforti, the company's vice president of corporate development. 

The partnership includes a line of Gronk-inspired ingestible products slated for release in 2020, the exec said. 

Gronkowski's partnership does more than represent a celebrity endorsement, Conforti said. 

"He is an authentic advocate, someone who spent nine years playing football, suffering incredible pain during that time, and who's found relief with our products."

Conforti highlighted the company's brand strategy for continued growth, which includes increasing its SKUs and an expected presence in 5,000 to 6,000 retail stores by the end of 2019.


Trulieve Cannabis Corp (OTC: TCNNF) CEO Kim Rivers began by touching on the company's 65% share of the Florida market.

Trulieve has 1.7 billion square feet of active cultivation, she said.

This space allows for over 60,000 kilograms of annual production for the manufacturing of over 250 SKUs, the CEO said. 

Such product diversity has served as a differentiator for Trulieve, Rivers said. 

"That's been really important again as a differentiator ... giving that full customer experience, but in a curated way."

Body And Mind 

Multistate operator Body and Mind Inc (CSX: BAMM) President Mike Mills spoke about how focusing on branding was critical for the company when it began in 2015.

That was an unusual tactic at that point in the marijuana industry's development, he said. 

"Brands really weren't that big an issue. People were delivering product in glass jars."

Slang Worldwide 

SLANG Worldwide Inc (CSX: SLNG) CEO Peter Miller also spoke about brands, discussing the importance of a strong portfolio.

"Ultimately, we see ourselves as a consumer packaged goods company. And in cannabis, that means having a great portfolio of brands and organizing yourself in terms of your supply chain and your business model like a more mature CPG company."

Slang posted second-quarter revenue of $7.2 million that was mostly derived from licensing fees. 

Holistic Industries

Holistic Industries Chief Marketing Officer Kyle Barich discussed a portfolio of brands as well, noting the importance of quality. 

Barich spoke about establishing a "greenhouse of brands." It's not an easy task, the CMO said. 

"One of the big things that we have to do is think about what are the requirements to grow a true greenhouse of brands in the cannabis industry today."

To do so, a company needs a reliable infrastructure backed by truth, not hype, he said. 

"There is so much misinformation in this marketplace, and as large players in creating brands, we have a responsibility."  

Nextleaf Solutions 

Nextleaf Solutions Ltd (CSX: OILS) CEO Paul Pedersen discussed two ways he believes a company can succeed in cannabis.

"We think in this business you've got to either be a house of brands that is able to drive a better price for your products, or you've got to be a company that has a stack of IP that is cheapest and fastest at performing your B2B solution," he said. 

To date, Nextleaf holds 80 issued patents, with more than 40 pending patents in the distillation and processing space.

Having such a portfolio gives Nextleaf a competitive advantage over large players entering the market, Pedersen said. 

Related Links:

'Arguably The Fastest-Growing Business In The World': 6 Investment Pitches From The Cannabis Capital Conference

From Medical CBD To Cannavore Edibles: 6 Cannabis Companies Make Investment Pitches

Photo courtesy of Holistic Industries. 


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