The New Social Tonic: Cannabis-Infused Beverages


Path to Purchase IQ connected with Sebastian Richard, head of the national brand ambassador program for Cann, a cannabis-infused beverage label, for the inside scoop on its sampling program — and how the brand worked around a myriad of regulations to engage with shoppers.

Cann Sampling 1


Cann, a cannabis-infused beverage, and St. Louis-based agency Switch.

Cann is aiming to place its drinks in front of everyone who has picked up an alcoholic beverage before.


A field marketing campaign in which brand ambassadors distribute unspiked (aka no cannabis/virgin) samples of Cann at local dispensaries. Ambassadors also share educational flyers with QR codes linking to a list of the beverage’s ingredients and how it differs from alcohol. From there, consumers can purchase packs of the actual infused drink directly from the dispensaries.


In July 2021, the campaign started as a 12-week effort over the summer in the Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, markets.
It quickly turned into a 20-week campaign in additional markets, including San Diego, Los Angeles, northern California, Chicago, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
This year the sampling program will expand to Arizona, Canada, the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast.

Cann Sampling 2


Cann was looking for an immediate solution to scale to a nationwide program in a matter of weeks, not months or years. Switch provided a plug-and-play team that was ready to bite into the challenge and build the plane as it was taking off, so to speak. 

Since regulations for cannabis vary by state and even locally, infused samples in any legal market are not on the horizon anytime soon. Enter the unspiked drink as the solution to this problem. Shoppers want to know what a beverage that is designed to be consumed in different servings tastes like. Virgin drinks allow Cann to get liquid to lips and overcome one of the largest barriers to purchase — taste. In the world of heavily regulated cannabis, this is a significant win.


Richard breaks down how they measure success:

"Conversion rates are the ultimate decider. Are we driving sell-through in the accounts we activate in or nearby? This campaign lives and dies by its ability to move product off the shelf. We are in the stage of the industry collectively, where the more people who purchase Cann (equating money with product versus free samples) and consume it socially, the better.

"Break that down, though, and we see that just under half of all consumers who buy Cann do so again within three months. Doubling down on that, every two six-packs that leave a dispensary are tried by an average of at least two adults.

"So, the more we sample --> the more we sell --> the more people try it --> the greater the pool of consumers.

"We are not blessed with an established consumer base like traditional CPG. We are retraining and redeveloping the social drinking landscape. It takes a lot, but it’s a snowballing effect."