From Research to Data Solutions: How New Frontier Data Helps the Cannabis Industry Grow with CEO Gary Allen

As the cannabis industry evolves, having access to current market trends and consumer data is critical for success.

Founded in 2014, New Frontier Data provides unparalleled access to actionable industry intelligence and insight. Through Equio, New Frontier Data’s cannabis business intelligence platform, and NXTeck, the company’s AdTech division, New Frontier Data delivers solutions that inform strategic decisions for growth in a fast-paced and dynamic industry. 

In this exclusive Leafwire Q&A with CEO Gary Allen, we dive into how New Frontier Data is growing and evolving to meet the needs of all cannabis industry stakeholders globally.

Leafwire:  How did you end up joining New Frontier Data? What is your background? 

Gary Allen:  I came in as the COO of New Frontier Data five years ago. I hadn’t considered a career in cannabis, but New Frontier Data was bringing professional, vetted research, technology, and data to bear on one of the world’s fastest growing industries. I found this challenge very appealing and quickly got excited about all the company had already accomplished and the many untapped opportunities it could capitalize on with the right business strategies in place. We are leading an effort to create a culture of cooperation throughout the cannabis industry, partnering with other companies to bring powerful solutions to the market quickly. 

My background is primarily in digital marketing and technology. After developing an early mobile banking and trading application in the nineties, I helped develop a leading retail-to-consumer affiliate marketing platform called ConnectCommerce at Performics, which was wildly successful. After expanding the platform to incorporate bid management and paid search, Performics was acquired by DoubleClick before Google acquired it, kept the affiliate marketing piece, and sold the rest to Publicis Groupe. Since then, I’ve led other technology companies and agencies to exceed growth projections or later be acquired by the likes of Kantar Media and Bain Consulting. 

LW:  What is New Frontier Data’s mission?

GA: New Frontier Data was founded to fill a market need for vetted, trustworthy cannabis market research. Any mature market in the world has a company like us following it and analyzing what it is that enables and empowers the market to grow from nascent seed operations full maturity. It must be powered by vetted data, good contextualization, and some trusted advisors. 

Our charge is to bring that vetted data and professional contextualization to the market so operators, researchers, governments, and investors to understand the market opportunities, the risks, and the potential. I used to say we track everything from power to pesticides. But over the last three years, we’ focused on helping operators understand the consumer, and how they can effectively interact with them. 

In 2020, the legal cannabis market was worth about $23 billion with more than 40.1 million consumers. In 2021, that market value reached $30 billion with about 70 million consumers. To get a complete understanding of these consumers, we profile them through consumer surveys, POS data, and shopping cart analysis. Then we track footfalls and visits for every single dispensary in the US. We then use that data to model 167 million potential consumers, which is difference of about 90 million which shows the as-of-yet-untapped potential growth in the market. Operators want to understand how to onboard those potential consumers. How do they safely onboard 90 million consumers? New Frontier Data can help. We contextualize every piece of the market in a way that can make the consumer experience safe and can make the operator’s experience fruitful and profitable. Hopefully, along the way, we help guide the industry from nascency into mature operations.

LW:  The Equio and NXTeck platforms are powered by your data. How do they work?

GA:  At the end of the day, all of the market research and data ingestion we did over the last eight years, we put into powering these two platforms. One is called Equio. That is our platform designed for the participants in the industry: researchers, investors, and very specifically operators. It contextualizes the market in a way that each of those constituencies can use. For example, we have a series of dashboards, like the hemp dashboard, or a global dashboard that provides data from 217 countries to demonstrate what’s happening in cannabis markets around the globe.

The retail dashboard, however, is designed with an operator in mind. We track foot traffic into every dispensary in the United States, contextualizing who the consumer is, how often they visit dispensaries, which dispensaries they visit, what they buy, how much they spend and how often they purchase. 

The NXTeck platform is designed to take that information and enable someone to take action. So, for example, in the Equio platform, if I am at Rachelle’s Dispensary in Maryland, and I see I’ve had 1500 visitors over the last two weeks, I can match them to certain kind of profile based on demographics, product preferences, and visit frequency, I can find more of those consumer profiles in NXTeck to reach out and engage them with meaningful content that resonates. 

LW:  Do you foresee any major changes happening in the cannabis space over the next year?

GA: We expect to continue to see consolidation in and around the MSOs as smaller dispensary and dispensary chains open in key new markets as well as established mature markets. We also expect to see a continued push for social equity programs in cannabis that help level the playing field a little bit.  Different communities who have been greatly impacted by cannabis criminalization compete as independent operators against MSOs that are flush with cash (though not necessarily flush with profitability). Those social equity programs can greatly help stabilize the market. 

California has always been a trailblazer in the industry. In some way, shape, or form, California that will continue as it presses for interstate commerce. They have a proposed law under consideration to legalize it which would open the door for imports and exports across state lines. One of our common refrains is “normalization has to come before legalization,” and California’s efforts may be the latest example of that. It’s possible the state could tell the federal government, “You can chase us down, but we’re starting import and export.”

LW:  What else should the Leafwire readers know about New Frontier Data?

GA:  New Frontier Data has spent a number of years operating by looking into the cannabis industry, but shifted our focus focused more recently on operating within the cannabis industry. 

The data that we have, and the services that we provide, are there to help the industry grow. If it’s one operator at a time, that’s fine with us.  We want to give technology and data to people who need it; we want to buy data and technology from people who need to sell it. We’re here to help the industry grow. 

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