Startup Finds New Way to Listen to Consumers During COVID

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Written by Digital Surgeons,
• 3 min read
How brands use the Clubhouse app for consumer research

NEW HAVEN, CT / March 7, 2021 – Amid the recent surge in popularity of the social audio app Clubhouse, one startup has already found a way to use the platform to COVID-proof their brand launch.

Leveraging the growing engagement and buzz of this invite-only listening experience, this as-yet-named business is overcoming a challenge many brands have faced over the last pandemic year: connecting with consumers.

Though poised to launch with an innovation that will easily and discreetly introduce the ever-growing cannabis industry (expected CAGR of ~17.8% by 2027) to even more Americans, determining how to position themselves in a crowded, and not always reputable, cannabis market required that the brand get to know various consumer groups.

However, with COVID shuttering traditional in-person focus groups, they’re now capitalizing on Clubhouse’s popularity to host consumer research sessions, while also growing a built-in loyal fanbase from the engagements.

“We only have one chance to do this right, so we found a way. Now we’re hearing directly from the most engaged and interested consumers. It’s the next evolution in designed research and brand development,” said David Salinas, board member of the startup, as well as co-founder and Chief Growth Officer of Digital Surgeons, the creative consultancy guiding the brand launch. “Normally with focus groups, we only get the people willing to sit in a little room for a while, and now we get no-cost direct access to the alpha consumer — the early adopters with the interest and influence we needed, as well as anyone else curious enough to join.”

With a user base that’s grown ten-fold, from a reported 600,000 to 6.0 million, as well as a recent billion-dollar valuation, Clubhouse, as shown by this emerging startup, offers enormous potential for brands to engage in community building, insight gathering, and exploratory discussions with both core and untapped audiences.

“We know that there’s a certain amount of stigma still when it comes openly talking about cannabis, since it hasn’t been legalized everywhere. With Clubhouse creating more of an open-forum environment where conversations aren’t being recorded, we’ve been able to completely transform how we gather insights, especially in this category,” said Joe Pilcavage, Head of Creative Strategy at Digital Surgeons. “We like to do whatever it takes to launch a brand successfully, and I can say with a high degree of confidence, we’ve gone where no one else has gone before with this one.”

In one Clubhouse research session, Digital Surgeons co-hosted a 90-minute discussion called “The Future of Cannabis: A Growing Industry” with #BloomMaryJane, a cannabis industry networking club. Joining the discussion were industry leaders and enthusiasts, as well as other business owners interested in this new way of connecting with consumers.

“Last week people were asking what Clubhouse is, and now we’re asking what innovative things can we do in the space to transform relationships with consumers,” said David Salinas. “This group reimagined the focus group, and how brands learn from and connect with interested consumers, and we’ve only been on Clubhouse for a week. Imagine what the next week might bring.”

Digital Surgeons is an independently owned creative consultancy and full-service marketing & branding agency in Connecticut. As co-owners and creators of the $25 million technology and innovation campus District New Haven, they bring a forward-thinking perspective to everything they do, whether launching a brand through emerging apps or creating a community.

For more information, contact:

David Salinas
David [at]