MJBizCon speaker eyes consumer data to market to cannabis, CBD users

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Consider consumer-related data such as purchasing behavior your friend – a tool companies can use to personalize their pitch to attract and retain customers.

That was the message delivered at MJBizCon by Deanie Elsner, CEO of Boulder, Colorado-based Charlotte’s Web.

Elsner has three decades of experience with consumer packaged goods (CPG) giants such as Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble and Kellogg, where she was president of the company’s U.S. snacks division.

“Consumers want to know that you know them and that you’re speaking to them personally,” said Elsner, whose talk was titled “Bringing CPG Marketing to Cannabis.”

She noted the uncertain regulatory environment in the hemp extract and CBD category is leading to an “explosion” of competitive crowding and consumer confusion.

“Because of that uncertainty, we’ve got cautious customers and cautious channels that aren’t opening for distribution.”

To combat that, Elsner applies CPG techniques to a cannabis environment, including personalization strategies that she learned earlier in her career in the consumer packaged goods sector.

The lack of data and traditional marketing options in the cannabis industry creates challenges that can be overcome, but businesses have to take it upon themselves to create new solutions.

To that end, Elsner spoke about how e-commerce is the largest channel for revenue sales in the CBD market and an effective data-analysis tool. E-commerce represents about 66%-70% of the total revenue at Charlotte’s Web.

“It’s an incredibly important capability to have, because through e-commerce you’re able to gather data that enables you to better understand the consumer,” she added.

“We made investments to expand our outer capabilities so that we have superior analytics and breakthrough insights.”

That helps the business to personalize communication and test and learn from different approaches.

“If you’re going to succeed in CBD, you’ve got to be incredibly well-versed on e-commerce,” Elsner said.

How can companies succeed?

“You build a data infrastructure. Own your data. Add third-party data to your data. And begin to harness your data to drive your decisions and strategies … ” Elsner noted.

Gathering the data from e-commerce purchasing behavior allows the company to create personalized, relevant content, and the company gains a competitive edge.

“Once you do that, you give a consumer a great experience with your product,” Elsner added. “Once he or she has a great experience, they come back to your e-commerce site and they purchase.”

– Bart Schaneman