Michael Kuremsky is a 30-year brand and marketing veteran. He has extensive brand building, large-scale innovation, and leadership experience. Michael worked for 23 years in Brand Marketing and General Management with Procter & Gamble, specializing in the Beauty and Personal Care businesses. During his tenure as P&G’s Global Vice President and Brand Franchise Leader of Skin Care, he led Olay to become the #1 facial moisturizing brand in the world. He has earned more than 200 awards for his work from multiple advertising and marketing professional associations. As a Brand Strategy Consultant, he has advised many companies, from Fortune 500 to small businesses. Michael also works as a Professor of Brand Strategy at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2021, he became an Advisor at CannGoods where he continually guides the firm in the right direction with conversations like the following.

What is the benefit of outsourcing their R&D (Research & Development) manufacturing, and how does it fit in with what the big CPGs are doing?

CBD is an unknown area. It is still new. Companies are still exploring what CBD does and how it interacts with other things in formulas, etc. And more, companies are evaluating the public relations aspects and potential issues of CBD’s association with cannabis. So I do think that finding partners who have become CBD experts is beneficial for both big and small brands. I think brands will want to identify potential partners as they shop around for this expertise. They are not necessarily going to invest upfront in this capability themselves.

Small brands usually need to outsource R&D and manufacturing for practicality, cost, and speed purposes. But even the big brands will likely do this in the beginning because spending too many resources before they know if the CBD trend is going to last is likely too big a bet. I believe there are commercial and R&D resources at the big beauty/personal care houses that are currently studying and learning about CBD. I expect they are working with partners to determine how it can be infused into formulas or scaled in manufacturing to meet the high-quality specs the formulas will need to meet. So, I believe bigger brands will likely also outsource R&D and produce with third-party contract manufacturers but will take more time before launching in order to be smart and manage risk.

Where do you see the largest data collection and insight opportunities when it comes to bringing new cannabis products to market?

With some CBD products selling through main channels of trade, manufacturers can buy the data and evaluate it. I imagine some of the bigger reputable data/quantitative research houses might be studying and publishing articles or data on the industry to estimate the sales, market shares, and measures like that.

But, the internet provides many opportunities to be tactical with data collection and insight gathering. “Listening” online, reading reviews and product forums will reveal lots about how people are using CBD, what they are saying about it, what they like and see working, and where they have been disappointed. This is the most interesting area in my mind to harvest.

Can you elaborate further on the importance of the user experience in the skincare industry?

The experience a consumer has when they use a product for the first time, and then over time, is critical to its long-term success. While a brand’s marketing and packaging will lead to the original trial purchase, it is the product experience and results which will determine if the consumer adopts the product into their life.

For facial skincare, my experience has been that products “don’t work overnight” to achieve real results on the skin – it takes time. It is through cumulative use, week after week, where a consumer will start to see tangible benefits. But if a skin product isn’t adopted and used regularly, the consumer might not ever see the promised results. That’s why it is also important to design products that will be loved upon the very first use — in terms of how a product feels or smells, for example, or how your skin might glisten and look better in the mirror right away. These types of positive signals and enjoyable experience attributes are equally important, as they will be the early delighters that will convince a user to keep using, and ultimately adopt the product into their daily regimen. Thus, after a month or so, the consumer is in a position to also begin to experience the long-term, more fundamental benefits of the product.

The right CBD partners will understand the holistic profile a CBD skin product needs so that the consumer will like and embrace the product. They will know how to make it feel good when a consumer rubs it onto their skin or when they put it through their hair. Top choice CBD partners will also understand the fragrance of products to connote the right benefits.

For example, how can products be formulated to have a wonderful silky feel on the skin or alternatively to have a skin feel and fragrance to connote a more therapeutic benefit? If you want to sell a moisturizing face cream with CBD in the middle of the winter, many consumers will prefer a richness in the cream to soothe the drier winter skin. But, then in the summer, customers want to use something lighter, more in a lotion form. The right CBD partners will understand all of these nuances and be able to flex their product portfolios as such.

For part 1 of the interview click here