(Editor’s note: This story is part of a recurring series of commentaries from professionals connected to the cannabis industry. Mike McDonald is CEO and president of San Francisco-based cannabis company Ammonite.)
A decade ago, I was spearheading company growth for Atlas Snowshoes, which had just invented and launched a modern snowshoe.
Some consumers associated snowshoeing with flimsy equipment, tedious exercise and winter vacationers who prefer to veer away from ski resorts.
That simply wasn’t going to work.
So we utilized innovative engineering and design to create equipment that people want to own and developed partnerships with major ski resorts around the world to create the luxury snowshoe experience known today.
The lessons I learned then serve me well now as I face challenges – both similar and new – in the cannabis industry.
As president and CEO of San Francisco-based Ammonite, which makes the Dablicator oil applicator, I am working to educate consumers and shift perceptions about concentrates.
While concentrates – a product category that includes oil, wax, rosin and shatter – are becoming a preferred method of consumption among select cannabis connoisseurs, the majority of users pay the category little mind or, worse, don’t even know much about it.
Through consumer education, design upgrades and strategic partnerships, that’s about to change.
Although the quality of cannabis oil has advanced with the times, the hardware is stuck in the past.
Cannabis oil is predominantly ingested using fragile, plastic syringes prone to leaks.
Most oil syringes have measurement indicators for dosing and make use of every last drop, but they are rather inconvenient and awkward to travel with – two product characteristics customers typically find distasteful.
Neither are they the most inviting nor befitting cannabis product to present at group gatherings.
When you mix in the fact that cannabis oil has historically been geared toward medical marijuana patients, it’s no surprise the category is disregarded by a majority of the recreational market.
Dabbing and concentrates have a certain ritual, not unlike the old-school flower experience passing around a glass bong, and the modern applicator should encourage that special atmosphere rather than taint it.
Therefore, the first step in reshaping consumers’ notions about cannabis oil was to replace syringes with modern and user-friendly gear that sparks curiosity among consumers.0
New oil devices combine convenience, discretion and precision in one easy-to-use pen that is intuitive and speaks directly to recreational consumers’ desires and needs.
The best devices are everything the syringe is not, thus making it approachable to the average customer.
Education and experience
Of course, equipment is one thing, but what my time at Atlas showed me is that education and experience is everything.
In order to get more people using snowshoes, we partnered with resorts to create new and unique winter excursions using Atlas snowshoes that emphasized the sport as a fun way to exercise outdoors for skiers and nonskiers alike.
Once consumers experienced the wonder and serenity of floating on snow in wooded landscapes, they were hooked.
Similarly, we need to show the masses the magic of concentrates.
Not just relegated to smoking, concentrates can be used to elevate several cannabis experiences with precise dosage and immediate onset, from infusing food or beverages and sealing a joint to simply placing it under one’s tongue.
By partnering with brands and retailers that consumers know and trust, we are able to spread awareness of this improved application and, more importantly, establish customer confidence.
With support from respected companies in the space, consumers are hard-pressed to turn a blind eye to the possibilities afforded by these upgraded devices.
By introducing initiatives that educate consumers on the various benefits of modern oil applicators and offer unique experiences for every demographic, we are completely reimagining the value that cannabis oil brings to the industry and introducing an entirely new way to enjoy concentrates.
California and Colorado are leading the cannabis-oil movement, where the category has launched itself into each state’s recreational market with explosive growth and, as we’ve seen in the past, where California and Colorado go, the rest of the U.S. follows.
Experienced cannabis consumers are currently the chief contributors to the concentrate industry’s expansion, which is expected to reach over $13.78 billion by 2026.
But there is immense opportunity for cannabis oil to infiltrate the larger consumer market as the trend spreads across states.
This is only the beginning of what these products can bring to the table.
In time, the consumer experience will be elevated to a level never before seen in this sector and available to cannabis connoisseurs and new users alike.
By applying forward-thinking design, education and experiential marketing, the cannabis-oil industry can be completely transformed – just as it was in snowshoeing.
Mike McDonald is president and CEO of consumer products and brands company Ammonite, founded by Jetty Extracts. He can be reached at [email protected].
The previous installment of this series is available here.
To be considered for publication as a guest columnist, please submit your request to [email protected] with the subject line “Guest Column.”