Tech Thursday: Wildfire is Hot for Terpenes

Set on 114 acres in southern Oregon, Wildfire Estate looks like something out of a winery magazine. This is no coincidence. With roots in the wine industry, Wildfire is entering the recreational cannabis market with the branding of a high-end winery—one with an earthy feel. “It is our mission to present sustainable living as a lifestyle,” Wildfire CEO Michael Horner said. “We want a connoisseur experience without connoisseur knowledge and a way for consumers to interface with the brand directly.”

At the estate, a beautifully curved and lit cabinet showcases hourglass-shaped jars of prepackaged flower and small, custom-made glass vials holding pre-rolled joints. Embedded in the display is a tablet with the Terpenality app.

The team at Wildfire researched and held focus groups to identify the issues consumers had when choosing and obtaining cannabis. After hours of focus groups, they discovered many common concerns. According to their findings, people sometimes felt overwhelmed when speaking to budtenders and said they received conflicting information from different budtenders. Others reported being turned off to cannabis use because the effects weren’t what they had expected or desired.

To Wildfire, the data showed that there were potential customers who would like to use cannabis, but don’t because they are intimidated by the retail experience. This finding led to the development of a point-of-purchase display that ran Terpenality.

Customers can use the tablet-based app to choose from Wildfire’s current selection. The app asks a series of questions that helps match the consumer with the proper terpene profile. “Most people are unfamiliar with what smells mean,” Horner explained. Most consumers choose cannabis by smell, gravitating toward what’s appealing, but most are unaware of the link between aroma and effect.

Terpenes are what give cannabis its signature odor. Citrus aromas signal the presence of limonene, and floral notes are a telltale sign of linalool. These compounds produce different effects, and to a new user, this could spell disaster. “Customers want to have a predictable and high-end experience,” Horner said.

Wildfire took the terpene profiles present in cannabis and broke them into four main categories, or “flames”: Aurelian, Titian, Mazarine, and Clarion—each with different terpene profiles and effects. The Terpenality quiz assigns consumers a flame based on their desired effect and flavor preferences and provides a measure of predictability.

The inspiration for the four flames comes from Wildfire’s winery past. Just as cabernets and chardonnays have different flavor profiles, cannabis differs from strain to strain.  

Aurelian’s effects are described as “relaxed, sleepy and calm,” with tasting notes listed as “malty hops, spicy cloves.” Mazarine offers “cheerful, focused and imaginative” effects with flavors “of white flowers, lavender, and blueberries.” By taking hundreds of strains and categorizing them into four distinct profiles, Terpenality helps customers make informed choices.

Better-educated customers could mean more cannabis aficionados. By using technology to improve the customer experience, Wildfire is providing a simple and meaningful way to interact with its brand.

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