Gone are the days of gut feelings and hunches — at least when it comes to business. As cannabis becomes more widely accepted, growers, extractors and retailers alike need to accept one critical mantra: It’s data or death. Here’s why.
Data is refuge in a COVID-19 world.
In the midst of an economy-rattling pandemic, cannabis has been deemed essential. But while many businesses can count on Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans with little doubt, there’s a lot more gray area in the cannabis world.
Hemp-related businesses, for example, are eligible for the PPP via the 2018 Farm Bill — yet “both direct and indirect marijuana-related businesses remain ineligible to receive SBA loans,” according to marijuana law firm Vicente Sederberg, LLP (read more about that distinction here.)
Seeking out other means like angel investors, family offices, high net-worth individuals and cannabis-specific holding companies are great options. But to inspire confidence, it’s still important to bring organized data to the table. This includes proof of seed-to-sale tracking that shows compliance, strong financial management, oversight of each product lifecycle stage and more.
Consumers demand quality. How will you show up?
Is this batch fresh, or has it been sitting on the shelf for days? Can I see a terpene profile? Was this grown organically? What’s the ratio of THC to CBD in this product? Questions like these are becoming commonplace as more sophisticated cannabis consumers emerge on the market.
This year, Clever Leaves CEO Kyle Detwiler said in a Forbes interview: “Consumers are getting more savvy on the benefits of CBD and they will begin to insist on knowing exactly what they are paying for and what they are getting when they purchase [it].”
For dispensaries, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools can keep track of well-liked products, store reviews, referrals and birthdays for rewards, and more. Keeping a pulse on customer sentiment and buying behavior will help retailers make informed pivots to improve the customer experience and boost loyalty.
Data builds much-needed trust — at every level.
In a highly-regulated, compliance-frenzied industry like cannabis, everyone’s on the hook. Whether you’re a breeder, a cultivator, extractor or dispensary, each handoff is only as successful as the regulations it abides by. Data and transparency show that methods are legitimate and product quality is good — which makes other companies feel safer doing business with you.
The Daily Marijuana Observer gives a good example of this accountability: “If a batch sample fails inspection, the regulators and producers know to pull that product from circulation and reduce the chances that consumers will be exposed to pesticides, molds, or other harmful contaminants.”
Some states even mandate tracking at the seed level. This can be as simple as tagging seed containers with barcodes and QR codes that follow plants throughout the entire supply chain, whether the seeds eventually end up as oils or edibles.
For cultivators, tracking temperature, nutrient levels, light and watering cycles and more can help pinpoint factors that lead to lower or higher quality plants, plant yield, and much more.
For manufacturers, data collection can help provide a complete chain of custody, details like cost-per-gram calculations, or even give notifications when products are recalled.
Gaining a competitive edge takes insight.
Cannabis advocates remember the jaw-dropping moment in 2011 when the Charlotte’s Web strain changed the CBD world forever. The strain was a medicinal miracle for a then-6-year-old battling Dravet Syndrome. But its discovery also sent a loud and clear message to the industry: Innovation matters.
Companies that can replicate and reproduce breakthroughs like Charlotte’s Web are going to be the most respected and profitable. Keeping track of plant genetics, crossbreeding, and monitoring the potency of clones will make this a greater possibility.
The world runs on data.
According to a 2020 Statista report on the top uses of data and analytics for companies worldwide, businesses benefit in the following ways:
This data accounts for the last two years (since 2018). It’s been almost a decade since Charlotte’s Web catapulted the industry — so no matter which type of cannabis trade you’re passionate about, data needs to become the lifeblood of your business, stat.
The future depends on it.