Valens has a two-pronged plan for new cannabis brands

Versus aims to help the company win in the value space, giving it a strong base from which to build premium offering Contraband.
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The Valens Company is launching a new premium cannabis brand and rebranding its existing value player as part of a larger plan to grow and reposition itself as a leader in the adult recreational market.

In the premium space, the company is launching Contraband, a new brand that capitalizes on its acquisition of craft premium brand Citizen Stash last Summer. With Contraband, Valens will leverage Citizen Stash’s genetics to market a new line of products and help position it as a leader in the premium recreational market.

From a brand positioning perspective, Contraband “pays homage to the unapologetic hustle that surrounded the OG emergence of both rap music and the legacy cannabis market,” says Sung Kang, VP of marketing for the Valens Company.

“Contraband will enter the market thoughtfully and by design, collaborating with the community to which it owes its legacy, to ensure it fulfills a need rather than pushing a message,” he adds.

In the value space, meanwhile, Valens is rebranding Verse Cannabis – a brand it acquired in September – into Versus, which it is positioning as a bold challenger brand.

“The acquisition of Verse was critical because it got us a wide base of listings in seven provinces, across multiple categories, in the very important value-priced segment,” said Tyler Robson, CEO and chair of the Valens Company. “Relaunched as Versus, it will be the challenger that isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with every value brand competitor, and we’re confident that it will come out on top in terms of product quality and consumer satisfaction.”

“Our [Versus] brand experiences will convey a ‘come at me’ fighter’s mentality through social, digital and in-person,” adds Kang.

Both the rebrand and the launch are part of a larger, strategic plan intended to make Valens a leader in the recreational cannabis category.

“Winning in the value price point across multiple categories will give us a solid foundation,” says Robson. “From there, Contraband is part of our strategy to build an ultra-premium brand offering, and ultimately create one of the most comprehensive and effective portfolios in the marketplace.”

Both brands will face the typical challenge of restrictions on the marketing of cannabis, so “we need to authentically enter the marketplace in a way that provides real value to the consumers in owned channels and live experiences,” says Kang. The brands are being introduced across key touchpoints including websites, owned social channels and retail, and a digital campaign will follow in the coming weeks.

“You need to get your audiences to come in and play, rather than forcing your message onto them,” he adds. “What you’ll see from both brands is a very intentional approach to consumer engagement.”

Doug & Partners handled creative on the project.