May 22, 2019

Leadership Q&A: How Merchandising Impacts Customers’ CBD Experiences

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Retail and merchandising veteran Kristen McCabe is making sure Green Growth Brands taps customer insights as Seventh Sense rapidly grows its retail presence across the country.

Green Growth Brands (GGB) brings together retailers, chemists, artists, strategists and more to create CBD and THC products presented in exceptional retail experiences. But in a new and rapidly evolving industry, how can cannabis companies convey the ways in which these impactful products could fit into consumers’ daily routines? That’s where merchandising comes in—to help customers understand, access and enjoy the products they seek.

In this first of a series, we’re talking to the world-class retail leaders who are helping bring Green Growth’s brands to life. Merchandising Manager Kristen McCabe works with GGB’s cannabidiol (CBD) brands, including Seventh Sense Botanical Therapy, to help bring the customer’s voice into every step of product and store development.

How did you start working in merchandising?

My background has always been about merging the world of business and art. I was a marketing major, but I wanted to be an art major. Then I found merchandising, and that was the perfect mix of being able to use that analytical left-side of my brain and really merge that with the creative.

I’ve been a buyer now for over 20 years. Most of my leadership experience was at Luxottica Retail, where I ran the Sunglass Hut brand’s product team. That included 2,000 stores across North America and about 1,000 stores globally. I also worked for the Cincinnati Reds and ran their retail stores. From there, I came here to Green Growth Brands.

What is your role at Green Growth Brands?

My primary role is helping the product development team understand what’s successful in our environment, what’s not working, and bringing the consumer voice to the product development team. I want to make sure that what is coming next meets our consumers’ vision and their demands.

Then, once the product is developed, my role is to tell them what these products are, how they work for them, and the benefits they’re going to bring to them.

How do you determine what customers want and get there before anyone else?

We are deep in analytics. We encourage our field associates to communicate with us, in real-time, their product ideas, packaging concerns, quality issues, anything like that. We have a very strong, two-way voice with our guides in the shops, and that help us understand what people are looking for and where we may have opportunities to bring in a new customer or convert new customers.

How are these product stories communicated? What’s the key to customer education?

We create a 360-degree vision for the products, especially as we build these brands. So we’re very consistent across social media and our website, our shops, any kind of mall marketing customers see. When they interact in the shop, what’s on the feature table, how we use our light boxes to draw them into the store, and any kind of advertising we might be doing. We want to hit all touchpoints with consistent storytelling, including driving them to ShopSeventhSense.com to learn more.

What have you learned from customers that surprised you?

I think the biggest surprise is the power of our therapeutic products and how important it is to our business. We’ve seen our consumer gravitate to the products that really do work for them, not just from a CBD standpoint, but because of the other amazing botanical extracts in them as well. The products really, really work. One use is all we need to convince people.

That’s why our upcoming campaign will focus on what hurts, because it speaks to many different people on many different levels. If anyone is seeing the Seventh Sense brand, that’s they message they should be getting as we initially launch and as we roll out these new stores.

Seventh Sense has been receiving unsolicited rave reviews from customers. That has to be gratifying.

Yes—the comments are amazing. People are talking about them in such positive ways. I had the same experience within my family. My father had knee replacement surgery and is not a cannabis guy at all. I took it home and had him put it on, and the next day he noticed it. Same with my husband, he has bad knees and he put it on one knee and not the other. And the next day he said, “my one knee is fine and the other one is still killing me.”

What have you learned from the current stores, and what are your plans for growth?

Right now we have 17 shops, and with my past experience overseeing 2,000-stores, I hate to draw too many conclusions after just two months. But we’re studying how shops perform differently by the market, the shop size and how savvy the consumes are. Those are all the things we’re digging into right now, and quickly, because we’re going to have about 100 stores by the end of June.

To find a Seventh Sense experience near you, visit the Store Locator.

 

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