Living the Dream: Helen Cho

Helen Cho
Director of Strategy
Aloha Green Apothecary
Honolulu, HI

There’s been a buzz of excitement at Aloha Green Apothecary lately. This is a time of unprecedented growth and expansion for the company as we prepare for the opening of our second dispensary, expand the production facility, kick off a major hiring push and introduce new products. After our 4/20 sales, we were able to clear out our inventory to make way for reformulated product lines, and one of my projects was the roll-out strategy for these new items.

Developing products and their marketing plans requires a healthy mix of thought and creativity. A good strategy educates the consumer, makes the buying decision a no-brainer, increases overall sales and strengthens your brand. Here are some of the considerations that can help shape your process:

1. Know your market and their needs: If you watch your sales, stay on top of industry trends and, most importantly, listen to your customers’ feedback, you’ll already know what kind of product will round out your offerings. For us, one of the obvious gaps was a product specifically to help with sleep. So, we formulated a new tincture with chamomile and melatonin that immediately became our top seller in that category.

2. Manage choice paralysis: We all know what happens when there are too many choices of a similar product: consumers either buy what they always do or decide to walk away. Products should appeal to customers for their own specific reasons, with the ability to substitute between multiple products being as low as possible. This leads us to our next point.

3. Don’t cannibalize sales: When new products are too similar to what’s already available, consumers will buy the new, shiny thing over the old stuff; it’s an upgrade — like our phones. A better way to increase sales is to provide a product that they will get in addition to their favorites. We have successfully tested different consumption methods, specific symptom alleviation, flavors, potencies and levels of convenience. For example, our oral sprays have a similar formulation as our tinctures, but patients appreciate the ability to discreetly microdose cannabis — and sales of the sprays continue to increase along with sales for our microdosing mints and tinctures.

4. Do their homework: Customers can be very lazy. Remove as many questions as possible while providing answers they didn’t know they were looking for. “This non-psychoactive item is best used for joint pain and should be liberally applied 3-4 times daily for daytime use” vs. “THC topical.” Guess which one sells? Again, know your market.

5. Know your capabilities: Our R&D department churns out some amazing products. And if you’ve got a great scientist leading that team, you’re also going to have the occasional “whoa” products that your marketing person/team knows EXACTLY how to sell. But one major factor will determine whether the product becomes a permanent fixture or a limited release: can the lab reproduce it at reasonable cost?

The right product mix will keep consumers coming back, hold and increase your market share and create a stronger bond between your brand and those who love it. It keeps your company fresh and establishes its leading position. Do this well and your customers will feel heard, understood and appreciated — and they will return the effort with their patronage and word-of-mouth.



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