Eureka, CA. On May 13, 2020, HCGA signed a contract with Humboldt County to develop and complete a Humboldt County Marketing Analysis and Assessment. The Marketing Assessment will gather and assess information that is necessary to create a successful marketing program for Humboldt's cannabis industry, based on the experience of other regional marketing projects in California and around the world. HCGA has contracted with three experts to help guide the assessment: Massimo Vittori, Camron King, and Genine Coleman.
Massimo Vittori is the Managing Director of The Organization for an International Geographical Indications Network (oriGIn), an NGO based in Geneva, Switzerland. oriGIn's goals are to campaign for the effective legal protection and enforcement of geographical indications (GI) at the regional, national, and international levels through campaigns aimed at decision-makers, the media, and the public at large; and promote GIs as a sustainable development tool for producers and communities.
Camron King is President and Founder of Oakwood Strategic LLC. Recognized for his dynamic leadership, effective management, and forward-thinking approach to brand building, Camron has been fortunate to have built a successful career in value-added agriculture in both wine and caviar. His experiences are diverse, ranging from marketing, public relations, management to government affairs.
Genine Coleman is the Founder and Executive Director of the Origins Council and the Co-Founder of the Mendocino Appellations Project. She brings experience in geographical indication and organizational development, as well as a deep understanding of cannabis culture on the North Coast.
The Marketing Assessment will assess established Geographical Indications (GIs) that manage regional marketing strategies for globally renowned export products and apply lessons from these case studies to Humboldt County's cannabis industry. Successful GIs include well-known California regions such as Napa Valley, as well as regional brands with a global presence such as Colombian coffee and Darjeeling tea. Worldwide, GIs are used as a foundational tool to promote long-term sustainable rural economic development, facilitate input from stakeholders on how the regional brand should be positioned, distribute economic benefits equitably to the community, and provide for the legal protection of collective intellectual property. Applying lessons from globally successful GIs to Humboldt County will help build resilient, long-term local institutions that can successfully promote Humboldt County cannabis and ensure that the regional brand is managed for collective benefit.
The Marketing Assessment will offer vision, process, and recommendations to a county-wide cannabis marketing initiative. HCGA will submit the completed assessment to the county this summer.
Humboldt County's cannabis industry has been and continues to be critical to the livelihoods of thousands of county residents and the county's economic resilience as a whole. As national and international markets open, a well-managed regional marketing program will be essential to building Humboldt County's resilience and prosperity for many decades.
In March of 2019, the County of Humboldt's Board of Supervisors adopted Project Trellis, i.e., a three-tiered program for bolstering Humboldt County's cannabis industry. This plan included a budgetary allocation for a separate marketing initiative. The ongoing intent behind this initiative is to strengthen Humboldt's economic position and to increase its market share in the cannabis industry.
Accordingly, and on September 30, 2019, the county issued an RFP (Request For Proposals) for a "Collective Cannabis Branding, Promoting and Marketing Strategy for Humboldt County." Shortly after the solicitation for proposals, a Marketing Ad Hoc Committee was also formed to review and rank submissions from bidders, and to make program recommendations to County staff.
After collecting proposals, reviewing submissions, and convening the Marketing Ad Hoc Committee (on numerous occasions), a realization was made by staff (and select members of the Ad Hoc Committee) that the vision and process behind developing a county-wide cannabis marketing initiative lacked certain (and necessary) clarity and substance. As a result, the RFP process was placed on hold. In addition, the Marketing Ad Hoc Committee was subsequently dissolved.
County staff then deliberated on best practices for designing a marketing program suited for success and, in doing so, identified a real and pressing need for a comprehensive marketing plan. Developing a planning and strategic framework around research mirrors the process that County staff employed during the creation of the County's Local Equity Plan (LEP). It was developed (in part) using analysis and determinations made in the Humboldt County Cannabis Equity Assessment, also a program housed under Project Trellis.
In response, based on HCGA's role within the cannabis industry, it was contracted with the County of Humboldt to develop a Cannabis Marketing Assessment with the intent to gather and assess information that will be necessary to create a marketing program for Humboldt's cannabis industry.