Q&A with Allison Luvera, Head of Marketing at Kurvana, a Premium Cannabis Company
1) Can you give us a quick overview of your company and your role within the organization?
Kurvana is the top premium vape pen brand in California, which is the largest cannabis market worldwide. We manufacture and distribute some of the best products currently available in the marketplace, and pride ourselves on delivering only the highest quality oil and devices in the most luxurious packaging in the category. I was recruited to join the team in 2018 as Head of Marketing, an exciting role responsible for building the Marketing and Sales functions from the ground up, including everything from talent recruitment and creating departmental structure, to development and execution of the holistic brand strategy.
2) How did you come to the cannabis industry?
After over a decade in New York City working at iconic, global brands, I was looking for a new challenge. I had very rewarding experiences at leading media companies including Vogue and InStyle, and wine & spirits giant like Pernod Ricard, but my focus had always been on protecting and perpetuating established brands rather than building them. To me, the emerging cannabis industry represented a once-in-a-career opportunity to be a part of a movement. How often does one get the chance to not only build new brands, but be a part of a wider community that is introducing a whole new industry to the world. In addition to that, I personally believe cannabis is a very misunderstood, maligned substance that has a tremendous potential in its beneficial applications, both recreationally and medicinally.
3) Any unique challenges in the way you approach cannabis marketing?
Although my background in media and adult beverage has given me a great foundation to build off of, there are some very unique challenges to marketing in the cannabis industry. It’s a nascent industry that is still not legal at the Federal level, which creates obstacles at every stage of the supply chain, compounded by the fact that State regulations are still a work-in-progress. As a Marketer you need to work closely with the Compliance team, Legal Counsel and even government lobbyists in order to ensure our products and marketing activity are consistently compliant. Another tricky space is digital and social marketing. Critical platforms for brand storytelling and consumer engagement, like Instagram, have not yet embraced the industry, which limits brand awareness efforts at scale. All of these variables can be frustrating at times, but personally I’ve been invigorated by the challenges. They’ve improved my abilities to think on my feet, be nimble, and problem-solve, which are great skills to have in any business.
4) How does your company’s culture impact it’s marketing?
Diversity in the workplace is something that I’ve always been a champion for, and in Marketing it has wonderful practical applications in terms of ensuring our products and brand plans resonate with people from different POVs, consumer needs, and backgrounds. I’m fortunate to be a part of a very diverse team of talented marketers and I’ve found that it breeds a particularly creative and innovative output of work. Collaboration and passion are two other elements that make a big difference in the culture of an emerging company, and show through in our Marketing plans. When you have a small team of talented people that really care about the product and brand, and are working collaboratively towards a common goal, there is a tangible difference in the caliber of work. At Kurvana there is a feeling that we are all a part of something larger than ourselves, and there is a great love and pride for the products we’ve created and how we deliver them to market. When your employees truly care, and are collaborative, they can achieve great things even with a lean team.
5) What are some trends to watch for in your industry in the next 3 – 5 years?
I’m particularly excited to start seeing the rollout of national brands with sophisticated marketing strategies that speak to consumer demographics that are new to the category. As the stigma against cannabis lifts, and legalization continues at the state-level, I think we will see different types of consumers coming into the space with different need-states than what currently exists. For example, I hear a lot of buzz about cannabis among young mothers that are looking for something to help them unwind at the end of a long day without causing a hangover. There is a big opportunity for the brands that are able to educate new consumers on the space, and develop targeted products for them. Another thing to look out for is international expansion of brands, as well as adoption by mainstream retailers, driven by the growing trend in hemp-derived CBD products and the recent passing of the Farm Bill. These topicals, edibles, and vape products are gaining media attention for their anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety benefits, without the classic psychoactive effect that you see with THC cannabis products. It’s definitely a space to watch, and I think we’ll see a lot of overlap here with the formidable beauty and wellness industries.
About Allison Luvera – LinkedIn
Allison is a luxury marketing expert with 12+ years experience. She began her career in client services for top media platforms including Vogue, Town&Country, and InStyle, developing revenue-generating marketing solutions for fashion and retail advertisers. Following that, Allison transitioned to the adult beverage space as Director, Luxury Marketing for Pernod Ricard USA, where she oversaw the luxury marketing strategies for a portfolio of 8 champagne and spirits brands. Under her leadership, the luxury division expanded significantly and generated double-digit revenue growth. Most recently, Allison has been named Head of Marketing at top California cannabis brand, Kurvana. In this exciting new role, she is responsible for building a best-in-class marketing function that will develop and deliver consumer-centric brand strategies for the Kurvana brand portfolio.
Allison has been a featured speaker on industry panels, and has had her work covered in Elite Traveler, Somm Journal, and Haute Living. In addition to her professional experience, she is a women’s rights advocate, holding a position on the Board of Directors for the U.S. National Committee for UN Women.
Allison holds a dual Bachelor of Science in Finance and Marketing and a minor in Hispanic Studies from Boston College. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.