Prioritizing Product Features for Cannabis Companies

Maybe you’re designing the next Vape sensation or the next killer weed app. Whether you’re starting a MMJ dispensary or working on your next edibles brand, product feature strategy will be vital to your success. (If you’re opening a marijuana retailer, just replace the word “product” with “store” features.) You can always add more features but which ones matter most to your customers and which can you execute?

Cannabis Edibles Branding Example

Their background art says their target audience is Flower Children but their product looks inspired by Willy Wonka. A more cohesive target would make their advertising powerful.

Picking Your Target Audience

Everyone wants to sell their products to everyone. But the truth is, you need to narrow down on who your most profitable customers will be. Even though lots of different types of people shop at Trader Joe’s, the company makes many decisions by targeting a specific customer: “An unemployed college professor who drives a very, very, very used Volvo.” You’d have no idea that their clear target customer is what helps make the South Pacific theme with matching specialty food at low prices so cohesive (and profitable).

A clear target audience will allow you to make core strategy calls like:

  • Product Line Decisions – “What products do my customer need?”
  • Product Feature Decisions – “What does my target customer want most?”
  • Location Decisions – “Where does my target customer shop?”
  • Pricing Decisions – “How much does my target customer have to spend?”
  • Advertising Decisions – “What would influence my target customer to try my brand?”

If you keep a target customer group in mind when making strategic decisions, the end result will be a cohesive product that has the potential to sell.

Picking Product Features

Let’s say I’m designing a bud vaporizer targeted at glaucoma patients over 50. You can brainstorm a hundred features that you could add to this vaporizer but how do you choose which ones you should focus on? You have competitors that are developing new vaporizers with larger staffs than you, so you better move fast to keep up. Luckily you only have too weight two factors:

  1. What features will differentiate my product from the competition? (In a way that won’t be instantly copied.) AND
  2. What features will my customers PAY for? (Extra features are nice but if it won’t lead to more sales, skip it.)

Number two is a little deceiving. This includes features you can and can not advertise. Features that your customers love and tell their friends about (“looks like a USB stick so it’s easy to get passed airport security”) are just as important as features you can put in a big headline (“lightest vape on the market”).

Prioritizing Product Features By Execution

Business success thought-leader John Spence, boils his Wharton School of Business class into one sentence:

Successful Strategy = Valued Differentiation x Effective Execution

If you’re chosen product features that differentiate you, then the most important factor to your success is which features can you effectively execute? In his book, Letters to a CEO, John Spence breaks this down:

  • Highly differentiated but not valued by your target customer = bankruptcy
  • Highly valued but easy to copy = price war (and there is always someone willing to drop their prices and go into bankruptcy faster than you)
  • Highly valued and defensibly differentiated but not executable = bankruptcy
  • Highly valued, defensibly differentiated, well executed = business success

If you can pick the features that you can effectively deliver to an audience primed for your product, your cannabis brand will be in great shape. Making the plans is often a lot easier than actually executing on them. John reminds us that “Great creative ideas abound; flawless execution of those ideas is exceedingly rare.”

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