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Industry & Innovation

Standing Out from the Competition in the Cannabis Industry

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When it comes to buying medical cannabis, Canadian consumer attitudes vary from region to region. In Atlantic Canada, consumers are driven by a sense of local pride, which makes them more inclined to buy locally grown cannabis products — even if they’re sold at a higher price. On top of that, they expect a higher level of customization with their cannabis purchases.

“They’re looking for something that’s a little more tailored to the specific needs of their community,” says Khurram Malik, Interim CEO of Biome Grow, an up-and-coming medical cannabis conglomerate with operations across Atlantic Canada andOntario.

Who’s serving the East Coast?

Despite per capita demand for cannabis being higher in AtlanticCanada than in any other part of the country, Atlantic Canadians are an underserved market. Through market assessments, Biome Grow found that 75 percent of the country’s licenses are split between Ontario and British Columbia, leaving provinces east of Québec without adequate supply. “I think it’s just sort of an overlooked part of the country,” saysMalik. To seize this market, cannabis companies can stand out from the competition by taking the time to understand the regional biases, preferences, and purchasing triggers of consumers in each province.

“Building your company for the specific requirements of each province is a level ofbranding and localization that not many in the industry are doing right now,”says Malik.

Taking a regional and specific approach in an underserved area also eases the start-up burden. “Because you’re bringing in a new job-creating enterprise that’s good for the local economy, you get certain privileges like good retail locations, grants to help build facilities, partnerships with local entities, and purchase orders to buy lots of cannabis, which you probably wouldn’t get in the bigger provinces like Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario,” adds Malik. 

Moving forward strategically

With industry growth expected to level off by 2020 as supply and demand equalize, smaller companies will be competing against the larger players. Biome Grow is strategically positioning itself for growth and longevity in this volatile space by diversifying its holdings and having strong, entrenched eco-systems in each Atlantic province. These eco-systems will include partnerships with local universities for research and development initiatives and student internships.

“Not only will we be able to develop intellectual property that’s localized, but we’ll help build a centre of excellence that attracts other related businesses to those communities as well,” says Malik.

Another part of the company’s growth strategy is selling to the overseas medical cannabis markets.“Because of Canada’s comparatively small population size and our potential competitors, you have to look at overseas jurisdictions as well if you want to thrive as a company in the medium to long-term,” says Malik.

With internal expertise in all aspects of the cannabis space — including finance, growing technologies, regulatory affairs, business development, and marketing — the company expects to deliver a high-grade product and to generate revenue soon after legalization takes effect on Oct. 17th, 2018. It also expects to deliver a unique risk/reward proposition in a volatile market for investors, where most if not all of Biome Grow’s production capacity will be spoken for before its expansion facilities have even finished construction — something that hasn’t been achieved in the industry to date.

Licensed producers need to be aware of regional consumer attitudes and respond accordingly in order to succeed and to continue to turn profits in the future. “By taking a regional approach, being on top of the ever-changing regional rules and regulations, and selling to overseas markets, our brand will be strong enough to compete with the big guys,” says Malik.

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Anne Papmehl

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