Underwood to marijuana professionals: Market products by generation

By Omar Sacirbey

Know the guiding principles that make each generation tick – and hone your marketing pitch to target those “core values.”

That’s the advice generational marketing guru Chuck Underwood gave cannabis professionals in a keynote speech to the Spring 2016 Marijuana Business Conference & Expo in Orlando.

“Each generation of customers brings new expectations and needs to the way they buy and the way they want to be served,” said Underwood, star of the PBS miniseries “America’s Generations.”

Underwood listed five generations which view marijuana through a different lens:

  • The GI Generation, aka “The Greatest Generation”
  • The Silent Generation, born from the mid-1920s to the early 1940s
  • Baby Boomers
  • Generation X
  • Millennials

Each generation is distinct, Underwood noted.

What they do have in common: Each generation forms its core values during its formative, younger years. And those core values guide decisions about purchasing and voting.

“To succeed, you will benefit greatly if you develop a generational gearbox that allows you to switch from understanding one generation to another,” Underwood said. “Once you’ve done that, select the core value you want to target and craft your product and idea around that.”

Generation X, for example, grew up at a time when both parents often worked, leaving the kids home alone. At the same time, politicians and other public figures often were mired in controversy. Gen Xers, consequently, are individualistic, skeptical, distrustful, and peer-focused.

“These core values bode well for your industry,” Underwood said. But he added: “Gen Xers have heard every piece of crap in advertising. You can’t fool them. Don’t even try.”

Boomers, meanwhile, grew up with different cannabis experiences. Some viewed it as a gateway drug, while others saw it as safe. “You need to be sensitive to Boomer experiences,” Underwood said.

His keynote came on day two of the Spring 2016 Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, hosted by Marijuana Business Daily at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. It runs through Wednesday.

The conference has attracted professionals and investors from 18 countries and 48 states.

The only two states not represented? Hawaii and South Dakota.

The top states represented by number of attendees are Florida, Colorado, California, Washington State and New York. Other states with particularly strong representation include Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The international contingent includes attendees from Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, Israel, South Africa and Spain, among other countries.

Attendees also hail from all corners of the marijuana industry, from retail, cultivation and infused products manufacturing to testing, professional training, lobbying and a host of other ancillary-focused sectors.

Orlando attorney John Morgan, who has spearheaded the MMJ legalization campaign in the state since 2013, addressed the conference Tuesday afternoon on whether medical marijuana has reached a “tipping point.”

The conference expo hall features exhibits from 195 vendors, including 80 hydroponics and cultivation products companies, two dozen professional services companies, 13 packaging and related supplies exhibitors, a dozen infused products manufacturers, six pro-legalization nonprofits, and companies that focus on banking, testing, security, professional training, among others.

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