Having spent 20 years working in an industry that is highly regulated, Kim Lawton knows how to launch and maintain excitement around national brands within the confines of restrictive state laws.
Now, the team at Enthuse is using its experience in the spirits industry and its knowledge of cannabis to help emerging brands navigate the complexities of marketing CBD, hemp, and marijuana products.
You’re an expert at working with brands that need to adhere to strict and restrictive state laws around marketing. How do those restrictions impact the creative process at Enthuse?
We do not limit ourselves in the creative process.
Like all marketers, we start with the audience first. We know how to engage them and how to add value for them. Our target consumers are always adults of drinking age, so we have a good foundation.
How does your work in alcohol inform your work in this budding industry?
We know what it’s like to work in an industry that is highly regulated and has different laws at federal and state levels. Our team can impart that experience and knowledge to newcomers in the category.
In fact, education is the cornerstone of everything we do at Enthuse, both internally and externally, using our top industry experts to create inspiration through education on behalf of the brands we work with.
The restrictions on cannabis marketing are a lot stricter than alcohol—TV, Facebook, and Google advertising are out of the question. How do you see the next few years panning out in the industry until (we assume) it’s legalized at a federal level?
I expect to see a huge expansion in people engaging with the brands first hand, through pop-up events and private education sessions.
It won’t take long for the cannabis industry to catch up to alcohol. If you recall, spirits ads were also banned from advertising on TV. Once it has some time in the market, people will start to understand the product and the category and more relaxed advertising rules will become inevitable.
What can Enthuse do for an emerging cannabis brand?
Enthuse can serve as a brand ‘concierge’, delivering value no matter what the life stage you are or what level of service your brand may need—providing insights on how to launch a product, how to find consumers and connect with them, how to sample and educate.
Do you think it’s important for brands operating in this space to have an advocacy or policy message around cannabis?
Without a doubt, yes.
With the opportunities associated with the ‘green rush’, there will be a lot of bad-faith actors bringing low-grade products to market to try and make quick money. It’s going to be really important for the brands who are committed to quality to have the right voice and support.