The Lift Expo Toronto, put on by Lift & Co, was Toronto, Ontario’s first legal cannabis convention since the country legalized adult-use in October 2018. The Lift events also happen in Vancouver, Canada each year, allowing brands across the country to reach their consumers and network with like-minded experts in Canada’s green market.
The Expo included an exciting Consumer Weekend that finished up the first-ever Canadian Cannabis Week, a seven-day series of consumer and industry events leading up to Canada’s largest cannabis convention. The event took place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto, and provided a unique opportunity for industry players and consumers to explore and discover Canada’s new and emerging cannabis products, and look ahead to future developments in the sector.
Licensed producers and cannabis brands were on display with larger-than-ever booths and consumer activations, alongside innovative companies showcasing Canadian-made THC genetic profile testing technology, beautiful and modern cannabis retail store interior designs, trend-forward accessories, and more.
Some major themes of the event included:
- Challenges and concerns medical companies and patients are facing as regulators in Canada mull eliminating the medical market in favor of the recreational adult-use one.
- Branding challenges companies are facing due to strict packaging regulations. Brands are overcoming this with in-person activations and experiential marketing initiatives.
- Varied new environmental sustainability efforts from the cannabis industry, as a core pillar of the companies and in response to what consumers are expecting.
- Increased strategies for consumer and patient education, including the use of AI and VR
Having attended the Lift Expo Vancouver just six months prior, it was interesting to see that many challenges voiced by the industry in January, just 4 months as Canadian legalization, were being presented with solutions. New companies had entered the space with ideas to combat excessive water consumption, packaging challenges, or consumer education.
Many brands focused on creating experiential cannabis that focused on desired effects instead of strains, like Sleep, Elevate, Hustle, etc.
There are many reasons for this including making cannabis more accessible to new users. It is a step in the right direction as strains with names like Chernobyl may be off-putting. While terpenes and cannabinoids are ultimately responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis, many consumers aren’t aware of terpene profiles and how they affect them individually, making effect-based strains easier to understand and choose between. Will we see issues with this type of labeling in the future as these claims are not backed by medical studies? The industry is ever-changing and shifting, so we will see how regulations ultimately impact the naming of cannabis products.
Stay tuned for more stories that sparked my interest during conversations with brands at Lift Expo Toronto! We’ll be exploring themes from packaging and cultivation sustainability, reaching new consumers, creating new jobs, and more.