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Posted by Craig on November 20, 2018

By now we’ve all seen the first wave of Cannabis marketing in Canada, from the subtle and social Fireside brand to Up Cannabis’ rockin’ partnership with the Tragically Hip. But these are just the first efforts of new brands where everyone is just happy to be on the playing field.

Right now, there are dozens of brands competing for the cannabis consumer’s attention- but the industry is expecting a big shake-up. A culling of brands down to a handful of big players. So how does a cannabis brand survive the next few years? We’ll let history be our guide.

At the turn of the 19th century, there was a similar rush to capture customers. But it wasn’t to get high- rather, to get fast. The automobile was being perfected and there were start-ups everywhere trying to get an excited public behind the wheel of their new-fangled machines.

The first modern car was made by Karl Benz in 1886. By 1899, there were 12 companies selling steam powered cars, 9 selling electric, and another 12 selling internal combustion engines. Only one – Packard, survived into the 1900’s.

So, what did Packard do differently? Most of the other companies at the time were founded by engineers, and they wanted their cars to go fast. But Packard focused on what consumers wanted. Reliability. Out of this insight came their famous tag line “Ask the man who owns one.”

Fast forward to year 2000. Google was not the monopoly that it is now. It was a start-up competing with much bigger search engines like Yahoo, Excite, InfoSeek, AltaVista, HotBot and AllTheWeb. But only Google was around three years later. Why?

Search engine companies in 2000 boasted about how many pages they indexed. But Google realized consumers only cared about finding the page they were looking for. Even going so far as putting an “I’m feeling lucky” button that returned a single result. People loved the simplicity and Google killed off all meaningful competition.

Today we see history repeating itself. A multitude of cannabis companies in an incredibly competitive environment. The few left standing won’t necessarily be who was biggest or the best funded. They will be the brands that find a true consumer insight and communicate it in a memorable way.