Let's assume we are all sitting down with friends for a beer (feel free to switch out “beer” to your beverage of choice, bourbon, champagne, La Croix, etc). You’re by no means an expert on said beverage but years of experimentation have informed your decision on what types and brands you tend to enjoy.
Suddenly your friend hops up and says “You have to try this new kind of beer I just picked up - it’s an Antarctic IPA!”
“Antarctic IPA?,” you say to yourself, “How curious? What exactly is that?” Based on your friend’s enthusiasm and your own thirst for knowledge, you agree to try a glass (how could you not?). You take your first sip and “WOW!” you exclaim. This is really fantastic! It's a new taste and a different experience compared to any other beers or IPAs you’ve tried. In short - you very much like it!
So picture yourself in this position. Where would your mind go next? You’d probably ask for the bottle so you can check out the brand name and then pretend to examine it in a way that makes it look like you are getting any relevant information (you’re not). Once you put down the bottle post examination, what is the voice in your head likely to say?
Voice #1 ) “This brand of Antarctic IPA is all I’m drinking within this new genre of beers that I didn’t know existed until 5 minutes ago! They have won my support and in return, I will only buy this beer and brand!”
Voice #2) “Wow this Antarctic IPA is great stuff! I sure am glad my friend recommended it to me and I can’t wait to try some more IPAs and other beers from the Antarctic.”
In our opinion, the affinity for brands doesn’t begin or end in a vacuum. Customers pick brands on a relative basis once they’ve tried other products in that category. Very few people decided to fall in love with a Porsche without first subconsciously comparing it to the many experiences they had driving other cars. In the same context - once you’ve been made aware of “Antarctic IPA”, and decided that you enjoy it - you probably want to try some different types and experiment before settling in on a definitive brand of choice, or if you’re like us with beer, Hazy IPAs in particular, continue on the endless quest for perfection through constant “tasting.”
The parallels between the example above and the new cannabis consumer who is trying a new product or form factor for the first time are strikingly similar. Building brand affinity among consumers who are new to the product is extraordinarily difficult when they have nothing in their internal database to compare it to. Oftentimes, even if the interaction with the product was delightful, it emboldens the customer to try other types in order to experience more of that category. Eventually, they may come back around to the first brand that they enjoyed but it's often a long and circuitous path. “Brands” in cannabis will eventually be a huge business - the way that we get there will be highly unconventional.