Always curious: The inside story on the evolution of HEXO
CAPTION: HEXO Co-founder and chief brand officer, Adam Miron.
This spring, Quebec-based cannabis producer HEXO (formerly trading as Hydropothecary) launched the company’s adult-use brand. HEXO is a brand for explorers, the curious and the never jaded, but how did it come about? Co-founder and chief brand officer, Adam Miron, tells the story.
Consider the case of Donald Glover. Aka Childish Gambino. Aka the winner of 23 major awards across every performing art, from the Grammys to the Comedy Awards, from the Brits to the Writers Guild of America Awards.
He’s an actor, most recently seen in Solo as a young and convincing Lando Calrissian.
He’s a lauded musician, shaking up hip hop as Childish Gambino.
He’s a comedian beloved as much for his edgy stand-up as his hilarious turns on Community and Saturday Night Live.
Academics would call people like him polymaths, renaissance men for whom being productive means constantly creating and generating ideas in multiple disciplines, simultaneously. They’re always exploring, constantly curious and never jaded.
And, as it turns out, those qualities of being an explorer, innovator, thinker and doer are also at the core of our new adult-use brand, HEXO.
Since 2013, when Hydropothecary was incorporated and became the first licensed producer in Quebec under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), we viewed ourselves as explorers, innovators and doers.
It’s not hard to see why: legalized cannabis for medical use was still in its infancy, with just a handful of companies legally growing and selling cannabis.
The public, banks and the business world all looked sideways at the whole idea of the ‘demon’s weed’ not just being legalized but normalized.
Then, as now, Hydropothecary was built for medical patients, like my father, who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer just before we received our sales license in May 2015, and immediately became our first client.
Hydropothecary will continue to cater to our medical patients, but as a corporation, the adult-use market is an opportunity to start from scratch, creating a brand that speaks to cannabis purists and cannabis tourists. A brand for people like us, those who are always exploring, constantly curious and never jaded.
But building a new brand in a highly regulated industry with layers of compliance and oversight requires more than sitting around a table and brainstorming with our creative team. We dug deep into cultural, industry, brand and consumer truths.
What we discovered was surprising – yet confirmed what we already believed about our clients.
The cannabis consumer as a dropout and non-productive member of society is a stigma not reflected in the statistics. Research shows that compared to cannabis rejectors, cannabis consumers are more nurturing, socially more active, better-educated, earn more and are more likely to travel that cannabis rejectors.
For a culture obsessed with productivity, it turns out cannabis consumers are not the couch-potatoes they’re painted to be.
In the cannabis industry, brands either reinforce stereotypes or reinforce stigma, by hiding from the truth of who they serve.
Even companies who launched new rec. brands ahead of Oct. 17 threw as many ideas at the wall as they could, watching for which stick.
With HEXO, we have done none of that. Having drilled down to very thoughtful data, we have built a brand that explorers, the curious, the never jaded can be proud of; a brand that truly reflects who they are and allows them to celebrate both their productivity and their various lifestyles.
At the same time, our company will continue to use its existing Hydropothecary brand for the medical cannabis market, and cannabis production for both brands will continue to be done in Gatineau, Que., at our expanding facility.
In both markets, our company's mission is to offer innovative and high-quality cannabis products, particularly in the smoke-free space.
There is one other truth that drives HEXO and all that we do: by creating brands around responsible use, we will have a hand in starving the black market. And that’s good news for Canadian society.
CANNABIS BY THE NUMBERS:
— 50 per cent of cannabis consumers vs. 36 per cent of cannabis rejectors
— 36 per cent of cannabis consumers vs. 28 per cent of cannabis rejectors
HOLD A MASTER’S DEGREE
— 20 per cent of cannabis consumers vs. 12 per cent of cannabis rejectors
— 60 per cent of cannabis consumers vs. 41 per cent of cannabis rejectors