Despite the cannabis industry flourishing in recent years, it’s still surprisingly difficult to employ effective marketing techniques, including through product packaging, due to the stringent rules and regulations that companies must comply with.
The main reason for these strict rules is because cannabis is still classified as a controlled substance in the federal government’s eyes. What makes it confusing is that many states across the nation have either decriminalized or legalized cannabis use for both medicinal and recreational use. Now, companies must navigate the gray area between legalities until things settle out.
While this does present somewhat of a headache, companies can still use many effective strategies to market their marijuana business; they just have to go back to the basics.
First, an overview of the marijuana market.
The global legal marijuana market was valued at $17.7 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $73.6 billion by 2027. This incredible forecasted growth is why there are so many new companies popping up in this sector.
The US cannabis industry contains many more players in the supply chain than just growers and sellers. There’s a full infrastructure that must be upheld if the market is to keep up with demand. This includes growing facilities, cultivators, research and development, logistics, packaging suppliers, and laboratories that create by-products such as concentrates, oils, and edibles — as well as consumer-facing marijuana dispensaries.
The companies most concerned with marketing are the ones that must attract a consistent stream of customers to their business to generate sales and revenue: dispensaries, wholesale growers, edible and concentrate manufacturers, and just about any other manufacturer of cannabis products.
Factors impacting the marijuana supply.
Marijuana supply is affected by several factors at various points in the supply chain listed above. Some key issues are:
• More competition because of expanding legalization;
• Heavy taxation and regulations;
• Changes in buyer behavior;
• The black market;
• Distribution problems.
Most effective tactics in marijuana marketing.
Before we get into the marketing tactics, it’s vital you consider your brand image by answering these questions:
• What does your brand represent?
• Who is your ideal customer? (clearly define your target market)
• What are their needs?
• Does your brand appeal to your target market?
• What packaging material(s) or designs would they respond to best?
• Does your product and packaging relate to the demographic’s likes and interests?
• What media format (radio, TV, social media) does your target market use most often?
Now let’s look over some ideas for effective marijuana marketing. Some of them are quite basic, but it’s important to do the simple things well, as they are often overlooked:
• Focus on educating your consumer — online and on-package.
• Develop a clean, authentic, and professional image in your marketing collaterals, including your packaging.
• Establish sponsorships and partnerships with influencers.
• Build a professional website and hire a specialist in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to obtain organic page views from internet search engines.
• Attend cannabis trade shows and events to grow your network.
• Consider advertising to get your brand name promoted.
• Participate in radio shows and podcasts, which are experiencing massive growth in popularity and are a great way to get your brand out there.
• Tap social media by posting to appropriate channels. Social media is still the king of free/cheap marketing. Just be aware of the rules of each platform as they may not allow cannabis-related content.
Marketing rules vary from state to state, but the most common one across the board is the restrictions against marketing towards people under age 21 and minors. In California, TV, digital, print, and radio ads for marijuana can only run if at least 71.6% of the audience is over the age of 21.
On top of that, states usually don’t allow cannabis companies to offer any freebies or competitions. And no advertising is allowed in arenas, stadiums, state fairs, shopping malls, arcades, and farmers’ markets —generally because there is a higher likelihood that children would see the ads.
The future of marijuana marketing.
As this is a burgeoning industry, rules, regulations, and technologies are bound to dramatically transform the landscape over the next few years. Cannabis business owners must keep up with changes in buyer behavior while remaining at the forefront of the technological innovations, packaging strategies, and marketing techniques so they do not succumb to a competitive disadvantage.