Nielsen Canada has partnered with consultancy Deloitte Canada
and the U.S. cannabis research firm Headset on a strategic alliance it says will provide CPG companies with “critical market insights” into the fast-growing legal cannabis market.
The strategic alliance will provide FMCG companies with consumer research focused on attitudes, consumption and product preferences around cannabis; a suite of innovation solutions including concept optimization, concept testing and package format testing; and tracking legal cannabis sales through Nielsen’s Homescan panel.
“We felt that it was important that when we go to market to provide insights on [the cannabis] category that we had the right assets and the experience and expertise, that’s why we decided to create an alliance,” says Richard Lee, vice-president of business development for Nielsen. “We felt it was important to have that level of expertise and understanding of the category.”
A similar partnership between Nielsen and Headset in the U.S. was announced last week.
Nielsen currently has a Canadian consumer panel of 12,500 households, and also has the capability to develop custom surveys for clients. Mike Ljubicic, managing director of Nielsen Canada, says Nielsen expects to introduce its first “market read” of Canada’s cannabis market in the second quarter.
The legal cannabis market is expected to be worth as much as $6.5 billion by 2020, with the impending legalization of edibles expected to generate customer trial. In its Thinking Beyond the Buzz survey released earlier this year, Nielsen found nearly one-third of respondents 19+ said they would be willing to try legal cannabis if they could eat or drink it.
Food companies are actively exploring the cannabis space in anticipation of the October legalization of edibles. Neal Brothers partnered with cannabis company Newstrike Brands late last year on a joint venture dedicated to developing, marketing and selling cannabis edibles, while alcohol-free beverage company Hill Street Beverage Company plans to introduce cannabis-infused products later this year.
“[Cannabis] is going to have a big impact on the FMCG space,” says Ljubicic. “It will touch many of the categories of the clients we represent today either directly or indirectly. Ljubicic says preliminary consumer research indicates cannabis will complement some FMCG categories, such as snack foods, but could also negatively impact other categories (specifically beverage alcohol) if consumers treat it as a substitute.