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A Discussion on the THC Beverage Space with MAi Research

Today we’re speaking with Bob Clark and Paula Nyfield from MAi Research, to discuss an emerging market: The THC Beverage Space.

Who is MAi?


MAi is really two companies: MAi Research, which does full-service market research globally, and Pathfinder Analytics, a dedicated advanced analytics company.

Everything we do begins and ends with what it takes for our clients to succeed. We want to understand what our clients need to excel at their jobs and be rockstars within their own organizations. Understanding this allows us to more effectively tie research needs and objectives to a broader context. This leads to a final product that is tailored to our clients’ needs. This idea of collaboration is ingrained in our team at every level. It’s a different, and very successful, way of working.

MAi calls itself a client success company, how is that different than a market research company?


There are different ways to do research. Some of it is very transactional in the sense that a question is asked, some research is done, and then data is provided to the client. That works for some people, but at MAi we prefer a deeper understanding of who our clients are and why they are doing research in the first place. By taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture we can ask certain questions: how will the output of this data be used, where will it fit, and how will the client or their stakeholders use the insights to make decisions? Research designed with these elements in mind provides our clients with the tools they need to succeed. They know exactly what to expect from the final report and will spend less time worrying about how to communicate those findings within their organization.


We don’t just give the answers to survey results. We are always asking ourselves what can the client do with this information… how can they act upon it to help their business? We focus on becoming a partner for our clients.


We employ a set of touchpoints in the way we work with our clients. We discuss research findings to help understand their implications and how to effectively use the resulting insights. It’s not just a question-and-answer thing, it’s about building chemistry, which is so critical to any relationship, especially in market research, because you really have to understand the different motivators for people and different success outcomes.

Now that we know more about MAi Research, what is going on in the beverage space that caught your attention?


Cannabis and THC clearly have a growing appeal and because of that manufactures are finding new and unique ways of infusing THC into different types of products. It’s becoming more mainstream. We see triple digit growth in this category and it’s only going to continue going up in the next few years.


There’s explosive growth in different parts of the beverage business that are non-traditional. We can talk about the growth rate, but the bottom line is there are so many unknowns, and companies investing millions of dollars need to know more before they enter the THC Beverage space. That’s where market research comes in. We understand the risks, and quality market research allows our clients to quantify their risk and mitigate the challenges around their idea or product.

What can MAi do to help a brand succeed in getting into this space?


We provide our clients with the voice of the consumer. We listen to our clients’ questions and informational needs and then we design the research accordingly.

Clients may start with an exploratory understanding of the market – what do consumers want, what is currently being delivered, who are the most viable targets and so forth. Our Brand Extendability technique helps companies understand the equity they have and how they could build it into a new line extension or a new product. Does the company have “permission” to be in this new space? Would consumers be interested in this product? If people don’t see that it fits with your company, it may not make sense to put it under that brand name.

Once a clear understanding of the marketplace is assessed, clients may then develop some concepts to test. Concept testing is crucial to understand what your target consumers are thinking about a potential product or idea. Concept testing helps you determine what works, what doesn’t work, and how you can fine tune the idea so that when you launch you have the best possible chance of succeeding.

We’ve had many instances where ideas surface in the research that the client hadn’t thought of before. This information is then taken back to the designers and product teams to inform to adjust these ideas to better meet the needs and wants of potential customers.

From what I understand, knowing if an idea is a good one is only part of the challenge, correct?


Correct! You also need to know how to speak to your target consumer and traditional concept testing is likely not going to be enough. That is where our Text Science comes in. Text Science uses probing open-ended questions to reveal consumers’ thoughts and ideas, in their own words. To persuade consumers you first need to engage them. The way to engage them is to speak their language. Text Science combines the insights of qualitative research with a robust analysis of quantitative research. We also have the ability to use consumers’ actual text in drivers analyses. It eliminates the concerns of not asking all the right questions when testing new products. If something is important, even if we don’t address it with the closed-ended questions, we will pick it up with this technique.

We can also understand the size of the prize with volumetric modeling. We don’t use a black box around volumetrics. We want our clients to understand all the inputs and assumptions that go into the model. Once everyone agrees on the inputs, we can determine how successful this product will be in market. We can also help fine tune the marketing plan so that the client understands what levels of awareness, distribution, and/or promotions they need to attain their sales goals.

How can someone reach you to discuss this further?

You can select a date and time below to discuss this further with us!


Check out some more information about the THC beverage space and take a look at our most recent case study to see what we’ve already been doing.

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