Skip to main content

Cannabis Nielsen partnering with Deloitte and U.S. software company to collect cannabis retail data in Canada

Part of cannabis and investing

Retail data giant Nielsen Holdings Inc. is entering the Canadian cannabis market through a “strategic alliance” with Deloitte LLP and a U.S. dispensary-focused software company called Headset, the companies announced Tuesday.

As Nielsen does for other sectors, it will collect information on product trends, pricing, consumer habits and demographics from cannabis retailers and wholesalers across Canada, as well as directly from consumers.

"For Nielsen, which largely operates in the FMCG [Fast-Moving Consumer Goods] space, cannabis is a whole new category that’s going to impact our industry,” said Mike Ljubicic, managing director of Nielsen Canada. “There’s interest on both sides: Those who will be in the space and those who will be impacted by this space.”

Story continues below advertisement

For all the money that has poured into the Canadian cannabis industry over the past four years, remarkably little data is being produced and analyzed in a reliable manner. Anecdotal information, on everything from market size to consumer preference, abounds. But few firms are able to capture and analyze large enough data sets to make truly informed decisions about things such as branding, product development and even basic logistics.

“The lack of data in the market is really challenging for everyone from LPs [licensed producers] to retailers to CPG [consumer packaged goods] companies. No one can make heads or tails of what’s really going on,” said Jennifer Lee, a partner at Deloitte Canada, who leads the firm’s cannabis group.

"Each of the provincial liquor boards are producing data sets, and the LPs have their data sets, but nobody has a full view of the market, and that’s what makes it so challenging, you’re making decisions in isolation,” she said.

Nielsen and Headset, which provides dispensary software and real-time sales analysis, will collect point-of-sale data from retailers, along with wholesale data from LPs and provincial wholesalers. Deloitte will help analyze and segment the data, overlaying it with information sourced from elsewhere.

Nielsen has already begun collecting cannabis consumer data using its Homescan Panel system, which is installed in 12,500 households across the country, said Mr. Ljubicic. People who have Homescan Panels scan their retail purchases at home, providing data to Nielsen in return for various rewards from the company.

“Point-of-sale information is going to give us transactional data, what are people buying. It’s going to be our Homescan Panel that’s going to give us the demographics of who’s buying,” he said.

The partners expect to launch a data product sometime in the second quarter of 2019, Mr. Ljubicic said.

Story continues below advertisement

"This thing will start to grow as more stores are rolled out across the provinces, as we start picking up more transactions, as we start picking up more consumer information. Right now it's flower-based products, and we know that down the road it will eventually go into edibles and stuff as well, and that's where we'll just continue to see growth," he said.

The companies did not disclose the financial arrangements involved in the alliance.

Available now: Cannabis Professional, the authoritative e-mail newsletter tailored specifically for professionals in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Subscribe now.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter