Coast to coast to coast cannabis clients. We just can’t tell you who they are.
Friends and passers-by can’t be blamed for thinking we have zero clients. It looks that way to us some days too, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. Coast to coast cannabis clients – wouldn’t that be a nice boast?
We are sitting on a pile of interesting cannabis work but, until products are on shelves, talking about the work is a no-go. #firstruleoffightclub. Understandably, smaller operations are reluctant to expose themselves to competitive risk while the 60-day NNCP clock counts down. No one needs to telegraph movement until ready to strike.
One client has gone so far as to call us their “secret weapon,” and is reluctant to have their competitors find out who is doing their work.
We 100-percent get it. In fact, we even recommend it in some cases. The power of surprise and overwhelming speed should not be underestimated. Small, fast and focused can really disrupt a market or a competitive set.
Both the early reveal and the surprise blitzkrieg approach can be successful – neither is new. An early showcase when entering a crowded marketspace with a brand that resonates with the target market can sometimes make sense (if distribution and all that other goodness is sorted out already). This can drive awareness/chatter and assist with launch and early buy-in. In creating a whole new product type or coming to market with a key differentiator within a category, it can make sense to play the cards close to the vest. There is no reason to tip the hand early and reveal the grand plan as it welcomes early imitation.
An early showcasing of an anticipated product by one company to then only be beaten to market by a competitor is a worst case scenario that many in CPG have felt the sting of. Possibly, the competitor was working on the product format for some time, well ahead of the early reveal, but, who knows.
An example of this can be presented by Indiva. Indiva is a market leader in the edibles category (understatement) with their team not being shy of showcasing that they have over a 50% market share in many key provinces. Despite their successes with their US based brand WANA and their chocolate brand Bhang, they have two additional products on their website that are yet to be released. Those being Sapphire and Ruby which are THC infused salt and sugar, respectively. These two products have been languishing on their website for months as we have been anticipating their launch. Just recently, a THC infused sugar hit the market – but it wasn’t Indiva’s Ruby but Phat420 by Choklat, coming in to expand their edibles lineup.
Was Choklat working on a THC infused sugar before Indiva presented their own sugar product on their website? Possibly. But an early showcasing of a brand and product type that is still months away from launch only spurs competition to move faster. Either to beat you out of the gate, or to let you do all the hard work of developing a market and then draft in behind you with an improved or cheaper (often both) product.
We can’t help but think that the smaller, non-public, players (like our clients) are true product ninja’s where publicly traded companies need to constantly feed the PR machine to keep the market (investors) engaged – dropping press releases from helicopters on the weekly.
We don’t mind hiding our client list if it helps them get to market swiftly and silently (but, after they have seized their slice of the market pie, our coast to coast cannabis clients don’t mind a case study). Actions speak louder. Market share screams. Consider keeping a lid on your diabolical plans as long as you can bear it. As many criminal lawyers who specialize in cannabis will tell you, STFU.