MarketWell Voices: Why cannabis brand MADGE AND MERCER is focused on women over 40
This month, we spoke with Shauna Levy, founder and CEO of MADGE AND MERCER, a cannabis brand designed exclusively for women, specifically women over 40. The co-founder of the Interior Design Show (IDS), founder of Expo for Design Innovation & Technology (EDIT), and the former President and CEO of Design Exchange (DX) in Toronto, Levy is no stranger to running major brands and organizations, but she says that cannabis comes with its own distinct set of challenges.
Read about the struggles that inspired Levy’s interest in cannabis, the trends in marketing to women over 40 and what every wellbeing marketer needs to know.
How did the idea for a cannabis brand targeted to women over 40 come about?
MADGE AND MERCER grew out of my personal journey with chronic pain and anxiety. Following seven years of countless doctors, medications and treatments, cannabis was suggested. Once I overcame my initial hesitation and found my suitable dosage and delivery format, my symptoms for the first time, became manageable and I was able to regain control of my life.
Along the way, I encountered many women within my age group (I’m currently 53) who were experiencing similar challenges and needed effective, accessible solutions without side effects. I knew in my heart that more women could benefit from cannabis, but stigma, lack of education and knowledge were standing in the way. The idea of creating a brand specifically targeting wellness for women 40 and over was sparked. We conducted focus groups and obtained research from Deloitte to further confirm the wants and needs of these women when it came to cannabis consumption and found that there was a clear gap in both the wellness market – where the needs of women experiencing conditions often associated with this period of their lives – such as stress/anxiety; sleeplessness, chronic pain/inflammation and vitality – remained largely ignored. With MADGE AND MERCER, our goal is to educate women and empower them to incorporate cannabis into their personal wellness routines and self-care toolkit.
What trends are you seeing in marketing to women over 40?
Wellness is a $3 trillion a year industry in North America, and one in which women, in particular, are interested. Beyond a mere lifestyle trend, women want to live, feel and be well. More and more people are shifting to plant-based diets, supplements and skincare products, incorporating wellness practices such as breathwork, meditation, aromatherapy and yoga into their lives at ever-growing rates. With sleep now recognized as the key ingredient for a healthy lifestyle, they continue to search for healthy, sustainable alternatives to prescription drugs and alcohol.
We are seeing an increasing amount of natural health alternatives, sleep aides and fitness programs being marketed to women. Further, the pandemic has accelerated many of these trends as the importance of physical wellbeing and self-care has been highlighted as the world grapples with the reality of living through a global health crisis.
More than ever before, consumers are holding brands to a higher standard and demanding transparency and accountability from the brands they support, so it is critical that brands authentically align with the values of their customers. They’re looking at the why of the brand; and who’s behind it, looking for founders they can identify with.
Women have been bombarded with “better-self” campaigns for several decades now, and so products and their ingredients have to be functional, hardworking and not superfluous or gimmicky.
You are a successful entrepreneur. Is this your first foray into wellness?
Yes. It was my personal struggle with chronic pain/ inflammation and anxiety and the discovery of how cannabis could help address these, that provided the impetus to enter the wellness world.
How did you navigate the regulations around cannabis?
Endless hours of research, working with consultants and field experts. We bob and weave often, to ensure that we’re creating products that are authentic and true to our DNA while also acting within Health Canada regulations. It’s definitely not for the faint of the heart.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in launching a cannabis brand?
Putting together a reliable production team made up of suppliers and partners who are responsible, skilled and trustworthy and who also have the necessary licensing. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in launching MADGE AND MERCER?
No obstacle is insurmountable.
Is there any advice you’d give to other marketers in the wellbeing space?
A narrative has to be authentic for it to resonate.