Insights Into The Canadian Craft Cannabis Industry

"We are obsessed with knowing what motivates the cannabis customer, and we know how important quality is."


In the lead up to cannabis legalization here in Canada, there was much anticipation about the impact that craft cannabis producers would have on the legal industry.

Although the craft cannabis industry had a slow start, most consumers would agree that they are now back in the race and are raising the bar when it comes to the quality we can expect to receive when purchasing our cannabis in the legal market.

One company, in particular, has been on my radar for quite some time is Crystal Cure who is based out of Shediac Cape, New Brunswick and I had the pleasure of being able to interview Jonathan who is their COO for today’s publication of 4PM

Jonathan Wilson is the former Director of Customer Strategy and Engagement for Alcool NB Liquor and is currently the Chief operating officer of Crystal Cure.

How important is it for licensed producers to be transparent with consumers in order to build trust?

My colleagues and I think that transparency is the ONLY way to truly build trust with consumers. If you are not being authentic and truly transparent, you are still thinking transactionally. You may get some short term wins, sure, but we are trying to build a deeper connection with customers than that.

It won’t always work out in our favor, because we are not perfect, and we are opening up our doors. However, by showcasing that we have nothing to hide will surely help to build trust with those that value it. If customers aren’t concerned with what’s going on under the hood, that is their prerogative. However, as we’ve seen in 2020, more and more customers are asking for more information about the companies they support, the products they make, and how they operate.

Coming from the alcoholic beverage industry into the cannabis industry, do you see any similarities? 

In my eyes, totally. From cultivation all the way to consumption, the similarities are everywhere. Plants are farmed, flowers are harvested, an intoxicant is made from that flower, it is bought, sold, shipped, consumed, and Instagrammed. However, even if there are a ton of things that the two have in common, it doesn’t make them the same.

Any two human beings are said to be 99.9% genetically identical, yet we would never say that everyone is the same. Understanding where you can use proven practices that allow you to be efficient, while at the same time appreciating the things that make your product unique, is the key. To me, in order to do that, you need to deep dive into both from all angles.

Cannabis Content For Cannabis Professionals

Focusing on quality over quantity seems to be the mantra of many craft cannabis producers, how does Crystal Cure find the balance between the two?

For us, the conversation started as one only focused on quality. We are obsessed with knowing what motivates the cannabis customer, and we know how important quality is. We see a huge opportunity in the marketplace and have extremely high-quality standards when it comes to the cannabis we produce.

However, we still need to provide a fair price for our customers, and we need to ensure our business is sustainable. So, as we scale up, we move our focus on the “value” we offer. It forces us to think about both quality and quantity simultaneously. If we move away from the perfect balance of both (wherever that is, according to market conditions, industry landscape, etc) it will stand out like a sore thumb – either in customer reviews or our income statement.

Craft breweries have had a significant impact on the alcoholic beverage industry in recent years, how much of an impact do you foresee craft cannabis producers having on the cannabis industry?

Jonathan: In my former work life, I was deep into craft beer, wine, spirits, cider, you name it. I witnessed first hand the shift in consumer habits as craft continued (and continues) to grow. Craft/Micro/Small-batch/whatever you want to call it is going to continue to grow, there’s no doubt – but how much will depend on the categories and markets they play in. Plus, some of the big brands are doing incredible work from a marketing perspective to stay relevant.  

From my standpoint, I think the biggest disruption will be witnessed in the whole flower here in Canada, especially in markets where competing retailers are trying to build unique portfolios. Not that hand-crafted edibles or hand-made CBD bath bombs aren’t disruptive, but each week we are seeing micro-cultivators making up the majority of new licenses being issued. They are going to have some very unique products to bring to the market. Like beverage alcohol, I think there is a balance in which small producers and big producers can co-exist and thrive, but that remains to be seen.

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