Insight Report: Opportunities in the Cannabis Industry
As a part of a continuing series, we are bringing you insights gained from polls of our candidate base. This time, we polled our candidates on their willingness to consider a job in the newly burgeoning cannabis industry.
Here’s what we found:
Is cannabis headed toward the mainstream?
Judging by the headlines you see in the business press, the answer is yes. Why? Because more and more states in the US are moving toward legalization, and our neighbors to the north in Canada already have a national policy. While the industry has been stymied in the past by a patchwork of state-by-state regulations and significant hurdles to capital access, this much seems clear: cannabis is a juggernaut that can not be stopped.
The reason is simple: profit upside. According to Arcview Market Research and its research partner BDS Analytics, spending on legal cannabis worldwide is expected to hit $57 billion by 2027, with North America, where the industry is exploding due legal changes, set to skyrocket from $9.2 billion in 2017 to $47.3 billion in 2027. And it’s not just startups who want in.
Industries that want a slice of the pie
When we look at the state of cannabis today, we logically see a number of tobacco concerns wanting to get in on the action. After all, these companies are familiar with the cultivation, processing, manufacture and distribution of a somewhat similar product, along with the attendant legal and political concerns. And so we see companies like British American Tobacco and Philip Morris already moving toward investments in this industry. Widening out, beverage makers like Coca-Cola and Anheuser Busch with their deep understanding of their respective markets are also interested in the upside to be realized in cannabis.
But the interest doesn’t stop there. We see entrepreneurial executives in industries like pharma and even luxury retail are eyeing a new industry selling legal cannabis, along with affiliated CBD and hemp products.
Not to mention beauty and skincare brands that are currently evaluating the promise of cannabis-related product additives:
- Cosmetics players like Estée Lauder and L’Oréal recognize that their sophisticated and health conscious consumers are hungry for “functional” beauty products that tout the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD-derivatives. Through subsidiary brands like Origins and Kiehl’s they are exploring the possibilities in this market.
- Luxury department store Barneys is slated to launch a boutique called, naturally, “The High End” to feature CBD-enhanced skincare and makeup.
- High end unisex skincare company Malin + Goetz launched a hit body wash called Cannabis.
As each of these sectors evaluate the potential in legal cannabis, they are finding opportunities far from cannabis’ old, hippie-influenced image. And as younger, well-heeled consumers demand a more sophisticated offering vis a vis cannabis, the question for many of the multi-national companies we work with is: will they be ready to take advantage of this new market?
Executive recruiting in the cannabis market
Now of course we turn to the executives needed to power this burgeoning market. Our poll found a surprising openness among candidates to this new field. So if you are currently looking into the possibilities of cannabis for your business, you need to know: where can I find candidates capable of making an impact in a fast-growing, entrepreneurial space?
Our recruiting specialists find that these fledgling companies and operations need executives that have highly transferable skills and can learn and evolve in this highly transformative market. And while our network is rich with talented and versatile executives from the tobacco industry, we expect the legal cannabis market to require talented marketing, sales, operatives executives from a number of complementary industries. When we have been asked in the past, we take the following approach to this new market:
- Entrepreneurial types wanted: First of all, we look for self-starters. Something we have quite a bit of experience with is placing sales performers in brand-new American territories for foreign companies. Though this is a new industry and not a new geographic area, the criteria you use in hiring will be similar. We look for those who work well autonomously and truly have an entrepreneurial mindset.
- Look at similar industries: We also look for natural corollaries like tobacco and alcohol. These industries are well-versed in regulation, and offer a consumable product that becomes a part of its consumer’s lifestyle. Individuals who have built brands in tobacco and liquor often have great skills for bringing to cannabis.
- Consider great fits from unusual backgrounds: While it depends greatly on the position, sometimes great performers from other industries, such as luxury retail or agribusiness, can find a natural fit in cannabis. Also cannabis firms who are looking to make headway into another sector, such as beauty and wellness, would do well to think abut candidates that hail from those areas.
While the market is new and changing fast, one thing is clear about cannabis: the opportunity is wide-open. As the industry matures, we look forward to bringing you more insights.
Let us know in the comments: would you consider a job in cannabis? Why or why not?