Meet Our Employees: Marketing

Working in the Cannabis Industry – Marketing

Odds are, you found out about us and our products through marketing. Whether a friend mentioned the brand name Zenabis, Namaste or Blazery; you noticed our online presence; or you just stumbled upon our products at a retail location, you likely learned about Zenabis through marketing in one way or another. This month, we sat down with the Zenabis Marketing department to hear more about what it’s like working in such a unique and heavily regulated industry.

Below we hear from Zoë Patko (Marketing Manager), Alice Shin (Customer Service Manager), Samia Massoud (Retail Marketing Manager), and Mandeep Khara (Chief Marketing Officer).

What does an average day look like within the marketing department at Zenabis?

The team agrees that working in the marketing department means dealing with a multitude of projects and changes every day. “Each morning I start off the day with a phone call with our CEO Andrew Grieve at exactly 8:50 am. We go over what everyone on the team is doing today and all essential action items for the day. It’s also a chance to discuss any outstanding questions or issues I or my team might want to bring up,” explains Mandeep.

“I love our culture, our people, and our strong core values – we all share these in the way that we work.” - Alice Shin, Customer Service Manager at Zenabis.

Zoë also referenced a strong team mentality stating “I work alongside and manage a team of highly skilled marketing experts. Each and every member of our team was hired for specific skills they possess.” She continued by listing some of the things an average day includes for the marketing department;

  • Conducting and analysing industry, market and product research for brand and product development across a multitude of consumer segments
  • Reporting on benchmarks and KPIs to measure marketing campaign success
  • Increasing website traffic and conversions through organic, referral, social and paid marketing strategies
  • Overseeing branding, promotions, advertising, packaging, compliance, and positioning
  • Developing and managing content for various online and print based marketing materials
  • Planning and attending cannabis events across Canada and internationally
  • Creating partnerships with industry stakeholders, educators, media, and 3rd party organizations
  • Staying informed and educating others about cannabis regulations, industry trends, and scientific research
  • Identifying opportunities for continuous improvement of tactics, tools, technology, and processes

What made you join the cannabis industry?

“The stigma was the main reason I chose to join the industry, because changing the negative perception of cannabis is vital for the industry to progress forward.” - Zoë Patko, Marketing Manager at Zenabis

For Samia, she often compares the cannabis industry to the tech sector in the 90s. “It’s the wild west. For me, it was about making my mark on an industry that was untouched,” she explains. Alice’s interest in the industry really came down to changing public perception, one cannabis plant at a time. “My approach is to use education to help inform people about what cannabis can offer. I have the opportunity to be a part of history and I am truly honoured,” says Alice.

For other members of the marketing team, like Zoë, cannabis has been a part of their lives for a long time. “I’ve been a cannabis consumer and advocate for over 15 years. When I started in the industry, reliable clinical studies were hard to come by, which meant that most people were uninformed. The stigma was the main reason I chose to join the industry, because changing the negative perception of cannabis is vital for the industry to progress forward” she says. Zoë adds that another reason for joining the legal market was to increase access to medical patients, particularly those living in rural areas. “Based on the studies I’ve read, and anecdotal data from people I have spoken to, it’s important to realize that patients should have the right to choose how they want to medicate and are entitled to have safe, affordable access to it” she adds.

What are some unique challenges that come with marketing within the cannabis space?

Marketers, by nature, want to be creative. “It can be difficult when regulations occasionally put handcuffs on some of our campaigns,” explains Mandeep. “At the end of the day, though, it means we are forced to think outside of the box and to be strategic, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” he says. “You constantly have to have your thinking cap on,” Samia adds. “That’s part of the nature of the industry, and part of the job,” she says.

The team agrees that when it comes to hiring, they must be very selective with candidates because of these unique restrictions. “It takes ambition and innovative minds that come to the table without egos. People who are willing to take on different roles and to work to change perceptions based on new discoveries,” Zoë explains. “The Canadian adult-use cannabis industry is within its first year of inception, so there’s little data when it comes to consumer behaviour, product development, market insight, etc. Marketing campaigns have to launch based on subjective regulations with precedents being set as we go. It is a very fast paced environment on an incredibly large scale.”

What is it like to work as a marketer in cannabis (and at Zenabis)?

Most cannabis companies are still in their infancy, so it’s the perfect time to develop subject matter expertise, learn from the big players, get in at ground level and make an impact not only in the organization but the industry itself. “I love our culture, our people, and our strong core values – we all share these in the way that we work,” says Alice of working at Zenabis.

“It’s extremely rare to see such a new industry introduced so quickly to economies on a global scale. We are at the forefront of making history and developing processes for success. Being at the start line means there is no historical reference to help inform decisions or forecast results,” Zoë explains.

What excites you most about the future of the cannabis industry?

“The world is watching us, and we’ve got to lead the way on a global scale.” – Mandeep Khara, Chief Marketing Officer at Zenabis.

Mandeep and Samia are thrilled to see what this evolving industry will bring tomorrow. “The world is watching us, and we’ve got to lead the way on a global scale,” says Mandeep.

For Zoë, the most exciting part about the industry is the educational component. “My goal is to end the negative stigma around cannabis. As more and more people start to understand the benefits and risks of cannabis, more funding becomes available for research, product development, and education.” She also notes, “I love myth busting, to stop the spread of inaccurate information.”

If you’re interested in cannabis, have a creative mind and expertise in marketing, and think you’d make a great addition to the Zenabis team, please visit our Careers page for current job postings.