As the cannabis industry evolves and grows in complexity, organizations are looking for flexible, cost-effective solutions that simplify processes and reduce risk. But how do you select the right solution and weed out the wrong one? Read more to find out.
The Cultivator’s Challenges
Highly regulated environments
While the cannabis industry has grown dramatically in the past few years, legalization is an ongoing debate. As more states move toward legalizing cannabis products, laws applied to cultivation, distribution, and use continue to be intensely scrutinized, subject to revision, and inherently strict.
The cannabis industry is tightly controlled, and regulations vary state to state. Logos, artwork colour, dynamic bar codes, warning symbols and other messaging requirements can all change depending on where products are sold.
If a grower fails to meet regulatory requirements, they face the risk of fines, recalls, or destruction of product, which could cripple a flourishing business. Cultivators are looking for new ways to safeguard compliancy without incurring a huge debt to achieve it.
Testing requirements and communication can kill a brand’s buzz and budget. Most states require cannabis products to include a COA (Certificate of Analysis) on packaging. A COA provides consumers with lab-based evidence of the product’s potency and proof that it’s free from toxins (bacteria, mold, etc.). Testing is done on a batch-by-batch basis, and in most cases, COA labels are typed and applied manually.
This process is time consuming, cost ineffective, and a compliance risk. Human errors can occur at any point—from entering incorrect COA information to applying a label inaccurately. Errors can result in fines and inconsistencies can affect a brand’s image and reputation. This process can add further challenges to production line scheduling and output.
Route to market
The lack of multi-state dispensaries makes it difficult for cultivators to approach trade and in-store marketing in a unique way. To get their product on shelves, organizations deal with many different dispensary brands, which results in a low-buzz, blanketed approach to marketing.
The cannabis industry is also highly competitive. With so many similar players, speed to market is essential for a cultivator’s growth, success, and viability. A grower’s ability to update packaging to meet changing regulations and get new products to market quickly depends on how fast they can adjust packaging elements. If brand assets are not readily available and easily manipulated, it can put the cultivator behind the competition, at regulatory risk, and significantly increase their production costs.
With so much variability in the cannabis industry, the number of digital assets a cultivator must create and manage is immense. And exponential. Every strain, batch, package, etc. must meet brand, quality control, and strict regulatory compliance that can all vary by state. The result: thousands of files that differ slightly by look, colour, message, or labelling.
A cannabis cultivator, especially multi-state operators, can yield massive inefficiencies as employees struggle to search, update, and deploy brand assets. An organization can waste 3.25 months every year if 10 people spend one hour a week searching for digital files.
At DCM, we understand the unique challenges of working in an emerging market. Learn more here: https://www.datacm.com/industries/emerging-markets/
There are three ways a cannabis operator can solve scalability and regulatory issues: Process. People. Technology. Organizations are increasingly turning to the latter and leveraging technology to automate marketing workflows. Tech solutions not only address compliance issues; they also allow people to refocus on revenue-generating roles instead of admin-based tasks, like searching for digital files. With the right tech stack, a cultivator can take complexity and risk out of processes, eliminate redundancies, and increase their speed to market.
Automating processes via a digital solution optimizes speed to market and significantly lowers chances for human error. The ideal digital platform will allow growers to hardcode their data and processes into it—a tracking system for proofing, changes, edits, oversight, and approvals can be built directly into the system, ensuring brand consistency, quality control, and compliance every step of the way.
Dynamic content creation
Tech-enabled solutions minimize the time and cost of design changes driven by new strains, regulatory updates, and brand evolution. A core version of a file (the base template) exists and can be easily adapted for each state, flavour, strain, batch, etc. Background artwork, regulatory messages, and brand elements can all be dropped into the base template, with changes automatically cascading across applicable assets.
When file versions multiply exponentially, automated systems that allow for controlled templates and variable information truly show their worth. Take a look: https://www.datacm.com/our-solutions/workflow-management/
Digital platforms can provide controlled access to your distribution partners. Advanced solutions allow them to access, print, and ship approved marketing collateral like strain cards, new store opening kits, POS information, and product signage with the ability to customize components (e.g. dispensary boards).
Digital asset management (DAM)
Robust DAM solutions go beyond simple storage capabilities and can give a cultivator a much-needed advantage over the competition. The ability to store, search, and access digital assets quickly saves time, reduces costs, and accelerates product launches. Employees can upload, preserve, and repurpose art files, social posts, web pages, photos, videos, etc., creating one centralized and trusted point of access. Advanced DAM solutions also allow you to track digital views to make informed, in-the-moment marketing decisions.
Leveraging technology can mitigate risk, improve processes, increase cash flow, and drive speed to market. But the degree of impact depends on the platform. Like cannabis plants, not all tech solutions are created equally. Finding a digital partner with robust platforms—and the experience and capability to support them—is critical to growing a lucrative tech stack.
The best way to benefit from a digital asset management system is to start implementing it early, before your files get out hand. Click here to learn more: https://www.datacm.com/our-solutions/digital-asset-management/
Do you want to learn more about how to make your marketing and labelling processes simpler, faster, and more productive? Get in touch.
Lyndzey LaCharite, Emerging Markets Team Leader, DCM