David Bigioni joins marijuana company Canopy Growth

The former MolsonCoors VP on how to build a not-yet-legal brand.
Molson Coors Canada Vice President of Marketing David Bigioni.

David Bigioni has been a fixture on MolsonCoors’ marketing and sales teams since he joined as a brand director in 2008 and helped lead Molson Canadian back to the forefront of beer marketing in Canada. However, Bigioni, most recently vice president of sales, has decided to move to a new and burgeoning Canadian industry – marijuana.

Tuesday marks his first day at Canopy Growth as the new CMO, overseeing about a dozen marketers across a number of brands.

“It’s an exciting industry that’s at its birth as a legal market,” Bigioni told strategy. “It’s an opportunity to shape how this industry will grow and develop both in Canada and around the world.”

Canopy currently markets its brand Tweed in the medical marijuana field, alongside partnered brands such as Snoop Dogg and DNA Genetics. In many ways, the challenges and opportunities are the same as being a marketer in a regulated industry such as beer.

But as recreational legalization is still some time away (it’s expected in summer 2018), Bigioni is now building brands for products that can’t yet reach the broad consumer market. (Tweed and the other Canopy brands are only available to those Canadians with prescriptions.)

While less than 24 hours on the job and hesitant to say too much before getting to know his new employer a little better, Bigioni said the legalization challenge doesn’t change the fundamentals of brand building “as far as having a clear sense of purpose, clarifying your role within culture and how you define your target groups.

“The principles that apply at Molson or any other business will apply in this market,” he said.

In marketing marijuana brands among doctors and patients on the medical-use side of the business, Canopy has a fairly direct connection with customers. Those with a prescription register with approved growers like Canopy, setting up a one-to-one relationship through Canada Post’s home delivery services.

While the e-commerce channel is new to the now-former beer marketer, Bigioni said he’ll be able to fall back on a lot of his MolsonCoors experience in helping Canopy grow. “A lot of the rules are still being written, but it’s going to behave like a regulated industry. The routes to market will vary by province… We’ll be dealing with customers similar to the LCBO or liquor boards across the country.”

Bigioni is not the first senior brand executive to leave MolsonCoors this year. The company recently named a new CMO, Martin Coyle, following the June departure of Christine Jakovcic.