Despite what some may think, there's no point in ignoring the trend – the move toward legalized cannabis throughout the United States, and abroad, is happening at a far quicker pace than even some of the most optimistic investors and legislators had imagined. The movement is for real, supported by an October 2018 poll from Gallup that found that a whopping 66% of Americans are in support of legalizing cannabis nationwide. And, that rapid growth is attracting the attention of ambitious companies like NUGL, Inc., (OTC: NUGL) a company that is deservedly getting described as “all things cannabis.”
NUGL, headquartered in El Segundo, Ca., is proactively taking advantage of the shift in attitude, powered by a global movement for outright legalization, and at the very least a more amenable and less restrictive level of governance. Even inside the political arena, recent surveys show that a majority of Republicans (53%) and 60% of American seniors also favor less restrictive laws governing its use. Most recently, an admission from Democratic presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, shows just how mainstream marijuana use has become when she casually admitted to past cannabis use in a recent interview. Only four years ago, such an admission would have been a sure knockout blow to any person with political ambitions.
If It's Politically Okay, Expect The Movement To Strengthen
Bolstered by major endorsements from both sides of the political aisle, investors and industry-focused companies now have the unique opportunity to position themselves as leaders and winners in what has been described as a generational marketing and business opportunity. To date, thirty-three states have legalized cannabis for either recreational or medicinal use. However, despite the trend toward widespread adoption, the industry, in and of itself, is still in its infancy. Thus, any investor interested in the sector needs to pay attention to real companies that are both innovative and functional. And, NUGL fits that bill.
Moreover, with the political climate ripe for debate on the issue, investors holding onto already-established and forward-looking cannabis sector stocks, like NUGL, may earn higher returns compared to investments in companies that are making a claim to future riches without even the most basic of infrastructures in place. Thus, while investment opportunities appear to pop up daily with witty slogans and appealing ticker symbols, only a small handful of companies are bringing real-time applications to market that are focused on capitalizing on the differentiated market opportunities in the industry - and an even smaller group are working to fill a valuable and all-encompassing service to the sector. Hence, NUGL has found its space.
With NUGL already launching its revolutionary and transparent locator and review site, they aim to further separate from the competition by simultaneously building its reputation as a one-stop shop for all things cannabis. From the start, the NUGL team positioned the brand as one of the most innovative companies in the search and review community, creating what many believe to be the most transparent and user-friendly cannabis search app on the market. By integrating social media functionality with a unique platform that serves as a dispensary locator and review services provider, NUGL is bringing to both its user base and client list, a dynamic platform that offers unique and targeted marketing opportunities that benefit both the user and the NUGL client. Hence, while industry front-runners like Leafly and Weedmaps have grabbed a lot of attention for their scope of service, they left the door open for more innovative and aggressive companies, like NUGL, to build upon existing ideas and offer cannabis users and marketers a more personalized and streamlined experience.
Seeing Through the Smoke
At NUGL, the mission was clear - design a platform from the ground up to address one of the most important issues surrounding the cannabis sector – transparency. Since cannabis remains federally illegal, and without FDA jurisdiction to enforce quality control on labeling and product safety, users and marketers are caught in a buyer beware scenario. As a result, an often convoluted set of reviews tell a story that not every dispensary is created equally, nor is every dispensary delivering what customers expect. But, beyond misguided reviews, a bigger problem that many dispensaries face is the difficulty in attracting customers. And, NUGL is targeting that opportunity as well.
Take California, for instance – in some jurisdictions, a recreational dispensary can be found at nearly every intersection. But, for the user and marketer, there is little information available in real-time to drive traffic to their location. And, while many of these locations have shifted focus to selling specific strains to attract customers, a more inclusive solution to build traffic would be to utilize an interactive app, like NUGL, to reach potential customers. Thus, rather than limiting choice, shops and marketers can actually add value and customer reach through the NUGL platform.
But, when recruiting customers to the shop, understanding the rules of engagement is also essential. And, while law enforcement agencies are turning a blind eye toward use, strict advertising laws still prevent many traditional methods of marketing. Thus, while both Leafly and Weedmaps contributed significantly to the locator and review markets, they also left opportunity for better platforms to emerge that include social media and real-time marketing that can provide regularly updated, daily information. Thus, what NUGL has built thus far, an interactive tool for both user and marketer, is positioning the company as the benchmark for others to follow. But, more importantly, very few, if any, competing services can match the capability of NUGL, and most lack the interactive components inherent in the NUGL infrastructure.
Pay To Play? Not At NUGL
When it comes to review sites, the cannabis industry is no different from other sectors. And, yes, paid advertisement spots and reviews are still one of the easiest ways to bring attention to one's business. However, with the cannabis industry still in its infancy, the sector also has fewer available online review resources and serves a more segmented market. That's good news for NUGL.
Moreover, within the burgeoning industry that has a lack of legislative oversight, many of the information sources are often plagued by a combination of paid promotions and an extreme lack of standardized quality controls, resulting in critical transparency and description issues for the consumer. As an example, one dispensary may offer “pre-rolled joints full of top shelf, professionally grown crop” - while others sell joints claiming to be "made with premium flower" which are actually filled only with the leafy shavings from the bottom of a bag once containing premium flower. In other words, it's a buyer beware market.
Consumers also face accuracy challenges in the edibles market. Despite advertisements and reviews that specify an exact THC mg percentage, studies have shown that calculating the dosage of edibles can be extremely difficult – resulting in batches of products containing significantly lower or higher THC levels than advertised on the label. In fact, it's become common to see front-page paid advertisements offering a great deal on a product, only for the patient to arrive at the dispensary and find that the quality doesn't quite match the website's rave reviews. The level of deception and false reviews that are prevalent in the sector are what NUGL wants to eliminate for its user base.
Integrity Equals Growth At NUGL
The rewards for integrity are high, and only the best emerging companies will survive the competitive surge. And, with billions of dollars up for grabs to the best-of-breed companies, it will be innovators like NUGL that likely survive for the long-term. While boosted reviews and paid-for testimonials may produce some short-term revenues for the unscrupulous dispensary and marketer, few will escape the ultra-competitive landscape alive once they cede to deceptive practices and misleading product formulations. Therein lay the value of NUGL.
Taking notice of customer complaints on popular cannabis search websites, it has become the mission at NUGL to change a market filled with inaccurate representations and to replace consumer apprehension with an easy to use platform that focuses on all things cannabis that works "for users, by users." Moreover, NUGL is delivering trust, value, and integrity as the core values of its site.
Different from traditional industry websites, NUGL ranks nearby dispensaries based solely on verified and unbiased user reviews, creating a system that requires businesses to earn their top local listing through reviews from its actual patrons rather than fake write-ups by industry figures. The platform stays true to the data and its users by only providing verifiable and up-to-date information about dispensaries and their unique product offerings. Admittedly, as a business, NUGL generates revenues through selling advertisement spaces to local businesses; however, unlike sites that sell top placement, advertisers cannot reorder their positioning in the list nor promote positive reviews. An additional distinction in the NUGL advertising model is that any ad on NUGL clearly states "sponsored ad" at the top. Hence, full disclosure on all promotional material.
NUGL already boasts a fully functional app and website, with its user base growing sequentially month-to-month. The app is available on Android and iOS and allows users to search dispensary locations, cannabis strains, verified reviews, and sales within their area. The app contains over 100 search filters, allowing users to find even the most hard-to-find and specialty products anywhere in the nation. NUGL is also building a growing presence on social media channels to promote its service, with well over 22,000 frequently-interacting followers on the company's official Instagram page.
Building a Cannabis Community For All
While trust and transparency rank high at NUGL, the company is also working to distance itself from competitors by offering the most personalized cannabis search platform available. As mentioned above, the federally illegal status of cannabis has naturally created significant roadblocks for targeted advertising. For instance, Super Bowl LIII recently rejected a somewhat subdued advertisement that advocated the benefits of medicinal marijuana. Although this is a large-scale example, local ordinances also prevent many types of traditionally used physical marketing methods. Making matters even worse for business owners, Facebook and Google will not allow cannabis-related advertisements hosted on their website. Naturally, these restrictions create an entire suite of issues for both dispensary owners and users alike. Targeted marketing toward individual user preferences generally depends on user analytics collected from websites like Facebook and Google, but with these being inaccessible to the cannabis industry, understanding consumer trends and individual wants becomes especially challenging.
Thus, without the profiles and demographics necessary to tailor a marketing campaign, companies and users must rely on reputable cannabis-focused websites, like NUGL, to learn, evaluate, and make confident decisions about when and where to shop. NUGL, through its engaging community of users, is also making it much easier for consumers to discover new products and dispensaries to suit their individual needs better. For the marketer, NUGL provides a direct corridor to consumers where marketing is matched to a user profile, location, and product preferences.
In a nutshell, by understanding the significant challenges marketers face in targeted marketing programs, NUGL is taking advantage of the industry's weakness by implementing a platform that allows its clients to make use of extensive internal advertising tools, inclusive of direct messaging, event calendars, “pin drops,” and more. The company's planned launch of NUGL 2.0, expected in April of this year, will add features entirely unique to the search and review space. However, only small teases about the platform have been provided to date.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the NUGL platform is that it can virtually eliminate the need for a dispensary's own website, as the built-in admin panel enables its clients to manage advertisement placement and view real-time analytics to understand consumer trends. Replicating technology commonly used by sites like Facebook, NUGL's own underlying artificial intelligence is designed to weigh the individual preferences of each user and works to display content that lines up with their current purchasing intent.
NUGL: Building All Things Cannabis
NUGL began their platform with a mission of disrupting the status-quo of communication in the cannabis sector, targeting the niche areas that needed it the most. And, subsequent to the company launch in 2017, the company has been successful in promoting awareness, transparency, and positive messaging for the cannabis market.
Headed by CEO Brandon Vargas and Founder CJ Melone, the team behind NUGL is making considerable strides to scale the platform as legalized cannabis use spreads globally. Also working to monetize the platform, NUGL completed the acquisition of numerous cannabis growth publications, driving a steady new influx of advertisers looking to advertise through NUGL, and culminating in sequential advertising revenue growth during the previous three-month period. The company's balance sheet is also strengthening, and on February 11, 2019, the company announced that it had beneficially converted its corporate debt of $540,000 at $1.44 per share, resulting in an aggregate issuance of around 377,000 restricted common stock shares to its investors. Incidentally, investors were receptive to the move, and the share price as of this writing stands at more than $2.00 per share.
But, while NUGL investors and users are already benefiting from the share price increase and the sites improving functionality, investors can expect at least two additional milestones in the coming months. During a recent interview on MoneyTV with Donald Baillargeon, Melone and VP of Sales Bob Waters discussed exciting plans for the future of the application. Dubbed "NUGL 2.0", the company plans to further increase the level of the platform's cohesion by adding opportunities and tools to benefit any type of cannabis-related product, with profile pages powerful enough for companies to get their name on the NUGL platform and in front of potential customers.
The discussion on MoneyTValso placed emphasis on the B2B sales opportunities created by the website, with the goal of helping its clients make strategic partnerships of its own right on the NUGL platform by connecting businesses with fellow dispensaries, growers, lawyers, and others using the site. The 2.0 application will also enhance benefits to the individual user by implementing novel ways to discover new products.
Perhaps the most exciting and upcoming enhancement to the platform is the ability for a user to drop a personalized "pin" on the NUGL map, which in turn allows companies to view local consumer interest and even shoot an offer to the potential customer through its messaging system. The update is slated to be released on the unofficial yet nationally recognized cannabis "holiday," April 20th, of this year. In another tease, that launch is said to coincide with an announcement of a significant strategic partnership intended to increase the scope of the platform's reach to benefit its clients further. No doubt, the next several months are exciting times for not only NUGL, but for its investors as well.
An Industry Ripe For NUGL
The industry is still in its first growth spurt, and with NUGL having the benefit of generating revenues and building upon its already impressive user base, the future for NUGL appears bright. With its unique and inherent advantages over its competition, its steady growth, and upcoming 2.0 release in April, NUGL could very well be a break-out company in a sector searching for growth companies that offer real services, and practical business fundamentals. The best part of NUGL's growth strategy is that they won't need to stray from their stated mission – becoming the most transparent, unbiased, and innovative cannabis tool on the market.
For NUGL, the mission is more than search, and it's more than reviews. As the company states clearly in their byline, NUGL intends to be “all things cannabis.”