Increased acceptance of cannabis use worldwide is leading to greater diversification of products. From edibles to cannabis-infused drinks, the potential for market development is tremendous. But who will come out on top when the dust settles?
The legalization of cannabis in Canada is looming, so big corporations are making bold moves.
Rapidly evolving consumer needs make predicting the future difficult. But a look at current strategies can provide a spark of insight. And it is a look worth taking. The impact this emerging market can have on a number of sectors will certainly be profound.
Legitimizing Cannabis in the Health Industry
For years, many questioned whether cannabis actually provided health benefits.
Since marijuana was illegal for so long, that restricted traditional approaches to medical research. But as legalization in both medical and recreational areas have evolved, so too have research opportunities. In fact, major cannabis industry producers are actively pursuing partnerships in the field of medical research.
For example, Tilray, a major Canadian cannabis producer, recently entered into an agreement with Sandoz Canada pharmaceuticals. As the generic arm of Novartis, Sandoz sees potential in legitimizing cannabis distribution in pharmacies and hospitals through traditional research. of note, Tilray is the first pure-play cannabis business to IPO in the United States.
Another large Canadian company, The Hypothecary Corporation, has partnered with both Canadian and Australian government agencies. They also plan to explore the health benefits of cannabis on epilepsy and other disorders.
It would seem that the connections between the cannabis industry and the medical health industry will continue to grow.
From Getting High to Getting Healthy
It is no longer a secret that marijuana has medical benefits. As a result, 31 states (and Washington, D.C.) have medical marijuana laws. Likewise, over thirty countries worldwide have laws that permit some form of medical marijuana usage. Despite this, much of the focus has been on efforts legalizing recreational use of cannabis. But this is likely to shift in the near future.
One reason for this change is the increasing awareness of health benefits related to cannabidiol. Better known as CBD, cannabidiol is gaining in consumer popularity. Unlike THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which accounts for marijuana’s euphoric high, CBD lacks mind-altering properties. However, it does provide numerous health benefits. These benefits include reducing pain and inflammation, as well as relief from cramping.
This is why the Coca-Cola Company and other major corporations are pursuing cannabis-infused drinks as product offerings.
Cannabis-Infused Drinks, Aurora Cannabis, and More
The notion of cannabis-infused drinks is not something new. The cannabis industry has seen many joint ventures and partnerships occur this year with cannabis-infused drinks in mind.
- Constellation Brands, the owner of Corona beer and Svedka vodka divisions, is pursuing a joint venture with Canopy Growth. Canopy Growth is the largest producer in the cannabis industry. Constellation Brands has invested roughly $5 billion in Canopy Growth in exchange for a 38 percent stake in the company. The reported plans of these companies are to produce zero-calorie cannabis-infused drinks. Some strategies may use cannabis to complement existing alcoholic beverage products, while others will involve non-alcoholic ones.
- Earlier in the year, Molson Coors Brewing Company also entered into a joint venture with a major cannabis industry player. Under the name HEXO, the company plans to make cannabis-infused drinks with The Hypothecary Corporation. Like Constellation Brands, options to add cannabis to a variety of beverage products exist. Presumably, this will include alcoholic beverages.
- As reported in Bloomberg this week, Coca-Cola is currently involved in talks with Aurora Cannabis. Aurora Cannabis is among the top five cannabis industry players and is rapidly expanding. No formal deal exists yet between the two; however, many expect a joint venture to materialize that results in cannabis-infused drink production. Obviously, Coca-Cola has interests in the recovery-beverage industry, where cannabis-infused drinks would add to its offerings.
“I think most products will be in form factors more similar to other pharmaceuticals, other CPG products. People will drink cannabis instead of beer; people will drink a product with zero or few calories and no hangover, and they’ll drink it instead of a beer in a bar or at their homes.” According to Tilray’s CEO Brendan Kennedy.
Technically considered an edible cannabis product, cannabis-infused drinks could revolutionize the beverage sector. And with a reputable company like Coca-Cola involved, the potential for entry into other industries becomes more acceptable. Unlike Constellation Brands and Molson Coors Brewing, Coca-Cola has a greater interest in CBD. This component of cannabis may have the most tremendous potential for industry expansion.
Different Cannabis Industry Companies, Different Strategies
For the cannabis industry, being first to market has tremendous advantages. But for the future, staying on top may require different strategies.
If all beverage-makers begin to market cannabis-infused drinks, supply issues could become a real issue. Some current cannabis industry leaders have secured large supplier capacity. Canopy Growth represents over a third of all the cannabis supply in British Columbia and Alberta. It’s little wonder why Constellation Brands was interested in a partnership with Canopy Growth.
But what happens over the long haul? As demand for cannabis industry products rise globally, having the capacity to scale production is important. With this in mind, other companies are making bold moves in this direction. Specifically, Aurora Cannabis recently acquired ICC Labs in South America, and both Agropro UAB and Borela UAB in Europe. This will significantly advance their production capabilities over time. Undoubtedly, Coca-Cola has taken notice.
Though supply concerns are not currently present, expansion of cannabis-infused drinks and edibles could create exponential increases in demand. For this reason, some companies like Coca-Cola are likely looking to secure long-term supplier agreements. Likewise, other businesses will begin to look at the variety of cannabis-related products made. Some cannabis industry firms have already diversified their cannabis products greatly. Others tend to be pursuing more niche-product approaches. Depending on a company’s cannabis needs, different partnerships are certain to evolve.
Major Businesses in Today’s Cannabis Industry
The cannabis industry is one that is rapidly changing, which makes it challenging to get accurate valuations. For example, if Coca-Cola makes a deal with Aurora Cannabis official, Aurora’s value will skyrocket overnight. Understanding this, here is a short list of the major cannabis industry leaders today. And given the advantages of being first to market in the cannabis industry, it is likely these corporations will continue to enjoy significant market share.
Initially, Coca-Cola had been discussing a cannabis-infused drink deal with Aphria, but this appears to have fallen by the wayside. However, this Canada-based company is one of the largest in the cannabis industry. It has been estimated to have a market cap of $5 billion. Its stock price just jumped with speculation that Aphria may align with Diageo PLC, a U.K.-based spirits maker. Aphria has also signed recent supply deals with major medical firms including Schroll Medical and Emblem Corporation.
- The Hypothecary Corporation
Though one of the smaller Canadian cannabis industry players, the Hypothecary Corporation has a market cap of nearly 600 million. As noted, the company has secured a deal (HEXO) with Molson Coors Brewing Company and has several medical supply partners. Its primary niche is in innovative cannabis products, such as its cannabis oil-based spray with peppermint.
Also based in Canada, Tilray is the second largest in the cannabis industry based on market cap value. Its strongest focus has been on cannabis oils, which have the highest margin among cannabis products. But Tilray also has an extensively diversified cannabis product line. More importantly, Tilray has invested in large cannabis processing facilities and has become a leader in cannabis vape products. These attributes and its recent partnership with Big Pharma suggest Tilray has market staying power.
- Aurora Cannabis
Thus far, a formal deal with Coca-Cola has not been announced for cannabis-infused drinks. The company neither denies or admits whether such talks are ongoing. However, Aurora enjoys $3.1 billion in market cap value, and it plans to enter the U.S. Stock Exchange in October. This, and an aggressive global production outreach strategy, makes Aurora a major contender for the future.
- Canopy Growth
By all accounts, Canopy Growth is the largest cannabis industry firm. Its market cap is estimated at $11.4 billion, and its supply capacity is tremendous with roughly 20,000 kg in dried cannabis and 15,000 kg in cannabis oil. Current global strategies involve expanding exports and creating its global infrastructures. Likewise, the company has actively established global partnerships. In addition to cannabis-infused drinks with Constellation Brands, it’s expanding its cannabis vape capacity with an Organa Brands partnership.
Predictions for the Future of the Cannabis Industry
By 2025, estimates predict that the global cannabis industry will have $150 billion in value.
Interestingly, a third of this market will be related to medical cannabis use. But these estimates may be rather conservative. While cannabis-infused drinks may not be considered medical in nature, health-related products containing cannabis will expand. As a result, many companies are already jockeying for their share in that market.
At the moment, some companies are notably quiet. For example, PepsiCo Inc. has yet to pursue cannabis-infused drinks despite other growth pursuits. Likewise, Anheuser-Busch has not announced any active deals in this area, either. In all probability, these giants are simply watching the field right now.
But waiting too long might be a problem. As more partnerships are formed, the potential for supply constraints could be an issue. By making a move soon, Coca-Cola could make sure it’s the “real thing” for the indefinite future.
In May 2017, Atlanta became the 27th city in the United States to commit to 100 percent clean energy. This outcome prompted the creation of the Office of Resilience, which envisions Atlanta to be entirely powered by renewable energy. Then in June 2018, Atlanta’s city officials created a new roadmap for sustainable city living by outlining options to fight climate change, boost the economy, and ultimately improve the lives of its citizens. The initial plan indicated that the city would be 100 percent green by the year 2050—but this was 15 years longer than what city officials agreed on in their 2017 discussions. Thus, city officials accelerated the plan to fulfill its goal by 2035.
Pathways to Clean Renewable Energy
Based on the collective input of the Atlanta community, there are several possible pathways to have renewable energy power for a sustainable future. But for their particular city there are three key strategies: consume less electricity by investing in energy efficiency, generate electricity from renewable sources, and finally, purchase renewable energy sources.
By 2035, Atlanta aims to concentrate on the following to achieve its goal:
Every Atlanta citizen is entitled to equal opportunity. However, there are hurdles to clean energy in some communities. There will be initiatives in place to make access to clean energy more inclusive. City officials are trying to understand what these barriers are and how they can help these communities beat these barriers to pursuing clean energy.
- Economic Development
The plan includes creating skilled jobs in the clean energy sectors, like energy efficiency and rooftop solar. As a result, there will be higher incomes for skilled workers as well as an increased GDP for the city. While not all clean energy options offer the same positive impacts, Atlanta will prioritize those options that will thoroughly benefit its local economy.
- Public Health
Pollutants from fossil-fuel power plants are detrimental to the health of every citizen in Atlanta. Reducing energy consumption and prioritizing other electricity sources would, therefore, create a healthy impact on the well-being of every individual. This action would also alleviate the energy burden on the citizens.
- Cost-Effective Means
Moving to renewable energy requires a lot of money. The city wants its investments to be cost-effective to ensure that they are smart uses of resources.
Electricity powering Atlanta must come from clean energy sources. These sources refer to energy efficiency through wind, solar, low-impact hydroelectric, geothermal, biogas, and wave technology sources.
A Background on Clean Energy Sources
Indeed, many clean, renewable energy alternatives are in use worldwide. Let’s look at a few in detail. First, there is wind energy. More than three-quarters of US states produce wind energy on a large scale. These wind turbines convert wind energy into kinetic energy, and then into electricity, which is then distributed via power grids that serve communities.
Second, there are smart grids. Utility companies have now developed power connections to be two-way connections, while also integrating other forms of smart technology. If an area has a power failure, smart sensors reroute electricity faster and more efficiently. It also helps utility companies burn fewer fossil fuels in the future.
And third, there are fuel cells. Inside power plants, natural gas or biogas is converted directly into power. These fuel cells create water, electricity, and heat, with only water and air as emissions. Fuel cells produce virtually no pollutants and low carbon dioxide—thus, it provides clean energy that benefits its customers.
Atlanta, a Resilient City
In May 2016, Atlanta was recognized as a Resilient City through the Rockefeller Foundation. Resilient Cities receive funding to hire a Chief Residential Officer who will lead plans to make cities stronger and more equipped to withstand any environmental or urban stresses that affect them. This matter spurred the city to focus on building a strategy that supports its physical, economic, and social growth.
As a resilient city, and now as a city moving forward into a green future, Atlanta calls upon its residents to participate in the sustainable urbanization of the city.
Clean Energy Initiatives Utilizing Solar Energy
Various initiatives and providers are paving the way for Atlanta’s renewable energy plan. One of them is Solarize Atlanta, a community-based solar energy group purchasing campaign that makes solar energy more accessible and affordable to Atlanta citizens. The more people sign up to have the solar panels installed in their homes, the prices of the solar panels go down. They also get to decrease energy consumption, increase savings, and drive up the selling price of their homes by up to $15,000.
The city also permitted the installation of solar panels on city-owned buildings through the Solar Atlanta program. This fact makes it the most extensive municipal program in all of Georgia. Currently, there are 24 project cites—recreation centers and fire stations that have up to 1.25 MW of solar power.
More Renewable Energy Sources like Biomass and Wind Power
Concerning biomass (deriving energy from burning wood and other organic matter), there’s Biomass Georgia. It uses lower-value lumber for wood fire, and sources wood from forests with regrown trees. As a result, Biomass Georgia causes forest coverage to increase. Biomass is undoubtedly part of the solution to climate change, as sustainable biomass is part of nature’s carbon cycle.
Another company that makes renewable energy more accessible is Infinite Energy. It allows customers to purchase energy from solar and wind power through Renewable Energy Credits or RECs. It offers a month-to-month service that powers homes at a cheaper rate, without emissions, and helps the renewable energy market to grow.
The Green Movement
Climate change is upon us. What Atlanta is teaching the rest of the United States and the world about it is that it takes thoughtful, incremental steps to achieve renewable energy power for a sustainable future. It now depends on the citizens of Atlanta to decide to collaborate and execute the strategy on a city- and household-level.
2035 may be a distant future, but developments are underway. Moreover, with new green innovations coming out every day, Atlanta could ultimately be the blueprint for sustainable smart cities all over the globe. Inevitably, such a phenomenon would significantly and positively affect the future of not only Atlanta but also the whole world.
All businesses, big or small, value the importance of search engine optimization or SEO. After all, two-thirds of potential customers who search Google pick one of the top five choices on their search results. Given that Google handles over 100 billion searches a month, you can certainly appreciate why search engine optimization is essential. The question is, when do you need the help of an SEO expert? Many businesses try to manage search engine optimization strategies themselves. For some, this may be fine, but for others, it can lead to frustration and failure in achieving key goals. Therefore, the following provides five reasons you might want to outsource your search engine optimization activities.
Improve Efficiency of Search Engine Optimization Efforts
Many companies strive to achieve good in-house SEO practices. However, this is not always highly successful. An internal SEO expert may not exist particularly for smaller businesses. As a result, companies try different approaches to search engine optimization with variable success using trial and error as a guide. Unfortunately, this can often be quite inefficient.
If your SEO efforts are failing to produce strong results, then it might be time for an SEO expert. SEO experts are well versed in strategies that are most effective, and thus, they implement these as a priority. Likewise, SEO experts are aware of the latest search engine optimization trends. It will allow your business to get better results in a shorter amount of time with far less frustration.
Reduce Opportunity Costs for Your Business
Search engine optimization requires time. As noted, some of these efforts may be highly inefficient, which suggests that an SEO expert may be helpful. However, even if company SEO strategies are effective, this still requires significant investments of time. Depending on your business, time spent in search engine optimization activities may not be time well spent.
It isn’t because these investments are not worthwhile, but the time spent on these activities might be used for other revenue-generating areas. When opportunity costs become excessive, hiring an SEO expert to handle the business’s search engine optimization might be ideal.
Achieve Better SEO Content Consistencies
With search engine optimization, consistency and persistence is the key. Unfortunately, this can be challenging for many businesses. Strong initial efforts to produce search engine optimization in blogs, social media, and other digital media sources can lapse over time.
This is particularly true when time and business pressures from other areas increase. It is an important area where SEO experts can help significantly. SEO experts are able to provide consistent, high-quality SEO content that would likely get positive results. Search engine optimization requires a long-term perspective. Therefore, SEO experts are often better able to provide a steady strategy for success.
SEO Experts Can Enhance Your Brand Message
Some search engine optimization strategists believe SEO strategies are more important for branding than they are for customer awareness. While this may not be true, it is worth noting the importance of search engine optimization in this area. SEO content is not simply located on websites anymore.
Search engine optimization is relevant to mobile sites, social media, data analytics, and many other areas of your business.
Because of this, SEO experts can help your business promote and sustain a constant brand message for your business. Achieving this task without an SEO expert can be challenging given the scope of activities involved. Therefore, depending on your branding needs, SEO experts can be of excellent service here as well.
Enhance Your Business’ Online Reputation
Today, over 85 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Likewise, nearly half of all customers prefer an online review of at least four stars or higher before pursuing a purchase. Understanding this, your online reputation is critical for customer relations and marketing. SEO experts can help businesses manage their online reputation by using SEO strategies. These can push negative reviews and posts farther down a search results list. Similarly, SEO experts can use search engine optimization to encourage positive responses and reviews. SEO experts can thus help businesses with their online reputation.
Outsourcing SEO Services Can Give Your Business a Competitive Edge
Hiring an expert for your SEO strategies may not be required. Your particular situation may not demand to outsource these tasks. However, for many companies, hiring such an expert to manage search engine optimization activities can have several advantages. Given the number of benefits, outsourcing SEO activities to a pro should be considered for many reasons.
Ultimately, having an SEO strategy that is efficient and effective can significantly enhance your competitiveness and lead to major market success. This is when and why an SEO expert can be a great asset to your business.