Harvest Connect CEO, Kevin Quirk, has been featured in Atlanta Inno’s as one of Georgia’s CBD pioneers leading the latest health and wellness revolution.
The Broadway musical, War Paint, tells the story of how Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein pioneered the American beauty industry beginning in the 1920s – creating a mass market for high end cosmetics. Before that, makeup – or “paint” – was associated with prostitutes and performers. Queen Victoria herself pronounced it “impolite” to wear makeup in public. Today, the cannabis market faces the uphill climb that Arden and Rubenstein encountered in the early cosmetic industry days.
Innovation isn’t just about technology. Innovation sometimes comes in the form of entirely new industries requiring completely new approaches to finding and keeping customers. Such is the case with the CBD and hemp industry. As Georgia’s laws have shifted, CBD entrepreneurs are vying to become the brands of choice among wellness-focused consumers who may never before have experienced this new breed of nutraceutical. We talked with several Atlanta CBD pioneers to understand how they’re approaching this innovation marketing challenge.
While cannabis laws have loosened in many U.S. states, relatively few consumers have sampled CBD products and marketing obstacles are stacked tall. Georgia’s cannabis laws are among the most restrictive in the nation; focusing only on hemp and its byproduct CBD, which can be sold only under tight constraints and through a limited number of licenses. Georgia consumers remain somewhat confused about the differences between marijuana and hemp, THC and CBD and that confusion inhibits sales. (Note: CBD comes from the hemp plant and doesn’t get you “high”). There’s still a stigma, too, that a portion of the population associates with buying such products from a strip mall vape shop or roadside convenience store. It is also hard to spread the word about CBD products as online advertising outlets like Facebook and Google are still banning much of these marketers’ messaging. Put that all together and you can begin to understand what Georgia’s CBD entrepreneurs are up against.
Despite all the hurdles, Georgia CBD innovators are positioning to have their products gain trial, adoption and virality using techniques that originally helped launch players in industries which originally faced similar challenges … like the early cosmetics field. What’s working: Local, hands-on education and experiential marketing which includes product sampling and creating a new, upscale wellness image for the market through premium pricing, strategic retail locations and design.
Kevin Quirk – CEO, Harvest Connect
Kevin Quirk is a consumer products entrepreneur with Coca-Cola credentials who previously founded a children’s wellness product company, Harvest Soul Organic Juices, making chewable juices blended with organic nuts, seeds and berries. His new company, Harvest Connection, is positioning to be a vertically integrated powerhouse in Georgia’s CBD marketplace. Harvest Connection is competing to win one of the coveted few licenses being granted to organizations interested in processing hemp and hemp byproducts and dispensing medical marijuana in Georgia.
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