An Interview with Bernie Yeung, SVP of Sales and Marketing
December 2, 2020
We sat down with Bernie Yeung, our Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, to learn about how his previous experiences have shaped his current strategy for Aphria Inc., why he decided to move into the cannabis industry and what it’s like working with a best-in-class consumer sales and marketing team.
Bernie shares his strong vision around how to drive success in sales, marketing and innovation for Aphria Inc.’s recreational adult-use cannabis brands. In addition, he touches on insights about the future and even teases a couple of upcoming product launches – enjoy!
Bernie Yeung, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Aphria Inc.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your experiences prior to joining the Cannabis industry?
A: I started my career in the Health Food Industry and immediately fell in love with trade shows and experiential marketing. This work led me to consumer insights around consumption data, which is essentially learning to understand trends and drawing insights based on consumer behaviour. As my career grew I continued my work around the importance of bridging the gap between quantitative and qualitative research, which helped build a strong foundation for me to create strong brand narratives and develop fully integrated national campaigns for large-scale brands such as Mott’s Clamato, Dr. Pepper, Schweppes and Snapple.
After my exciting time in traditional consumer packaged goods, I transitioned into the Beverage Alcohol space and oversaw the national marketing strategy and trade teams for some of the most storied liquor brands such as the iconic American Whiskey Jack Daniel’s. This work helped me understand the inner workings of a regulated market, thus leading me to cannabis and eventually Aphria Inc.
Q: What drew you to Aphria Inc. specifically?
A: I joined Aphria Inc. because it is a world-class organization with a great base of brands, in addition, it has a supportive and driven culture, which is also very important to me. When looking for a job, you want to ensure the culture suits you because the reality is that you end up spending more time with your team than your family. If you don’t feel that passion and connection with your co-workers, then you won’t be successful. After meeting with Aphria Inc. team, I instantly knew I could see myself working here.
Q: Do you find it difficult to market in such a regulated industry like cannabis?
A: I don’t look at the regulations as being difficult, but instead as a challenge, which I find exhilarating and motivating. I believe that opportunities will come if you understand the rules of engagement and how to navigate within them. There are many regulations to follow in the cannabis industry, but given my past experience working in regulated industries, I have a pretty good understanding of crowded product categories and I’ve learned that if you find the right niches you can see great success.
Q: After working at Aphria Inc. for almost a year now, what do you think sets our adult-use brands apart?
A: Hands down the members of the Aphria Inc. team. The positive ‘can-do’ attitude at Aphria Inc. fosters an innovative environment that provides room for growth. Our marketing department is diversified and robust, so we challenge each other both professionally and constructively every day, which results in standout campaigns and product innovations. I am proud of the knowledge our team has about growing brands, driving consumer relevance and maintaining brand loyalty.
Q: What principles do you want your team to exemplify and why?
A: Above all, I really want my team to exemplify integrity. It’s the emphasis on valuing not only yourself but also your teammates and the organization. It’s fulfilling what you commit to and making sure you deliver on that.
Q: What markets, partners, clients or other opportunities add value to Aphria Inc.?
A: On a provincial level, all our partners are very important to us and we are lucky to have an open dialogue with them daily. Specifically, we work closely with our retail partners, coming together to build programs that help eliminate the illicit market, which is one of our main goals. This relationship is critical to the process because retailers provide direct feedback from consumers. We then take this feedback and use it to help tailor product development, strategy and campaigns to address market gaps.
Q: What has been the biggest win to date at Aphria Inc.? What do you anticipate in the next three years?
A: I’d say it is the natural chemistry of joining an organization that consistently works together to accomplish the plan we’ve laid out. I see Aphria Inc. as the market leader in global cannabis consumer goods. I feel we will be able to take best practices from Canada and apply them in other international markets. With our phenomenal executive team paving the way, I expect us to be the top cannabis company in the world by 2023.
Q: Last question – anything consumers can look forward to from Aphria Inc.?
A: I am really excited about the next few years because I think there will be new product developments, categories and increased consumer interest, especially once cannabis becomes more widely accepted. After only a few years of being legalized, the runway for this industry and the new channels still has huge opportunities, which I am very excited to be a part of.
As for Aphria Inc. specifically, we are working on expanding our product lines and improving our current base of brands. I’m looking forward to new flower strains for our top-selling brands – Good Supply, RIFF, Broken Coast and Solei – as well as continuing to develop our vapes. Concentrates, edibles – they’re all coming very soon. All I can say is I’m excited for what is to come, and I hope our consumers are too!