It’s a fact: Cannabis is one of the hottest industries out there and it’s only getting hotter. Sales of legal cannabis in the U.S. amounted to $10 billion dollars in 2018. That’s billion, with a “B”. And, according to Grand View Research, the global legal marijuana market is expected to reach over $66 billion by the year 2025. With recreational marijuana being legalized across more and more parts of the U.S., the retail cannabis industry now rivals Taco Bell’s annual U.S. revenue and, by 2020, will likely surpass yearly revenue figures generated by the National Football League. So, you’ve got your own business but how can you make it a successful one. With increasing competition, how can you make your cannabis brand stand out among the crowd?
I know, I know. You’re probably sick of hearing that word but branding is the key to everything. Back in the day, customers only had one choice: a little plastic medicine bottle with a hand-written white sticker on the front with nothing to go on but the name of a strain. But times have changed. When it comes to successful cannabis branding in today’s market, your packaging has to be creative in order to attract an audience and in order to attract that audience, you have to know who they are.
Know Your Ideal Cannabis Customer
Typically, stereotypes are not a positive thing. But in branding, they’re essential. Rather than just trying to be general enough to appeal to anyone and everyone, you’re far better off picking one corner of the market and it directly and distinctly.
Who do you want to attract? The medicinal user focused on pain relief? The hardcore daily recreational stoner? The soccer mom looking for relaxation after a long day with the kids? Just as each of these ideal customers evokes a mental image so should it evoke a marketing scheme you can get behind. Your customer has distinct likes and dislikes and you want to have a consistent and effective message that incorporates their needs. Consider the following as it relates to your ideal cannabis customer:
A University of Loyola study determined that between 62% and 90% of first impressions are based on color. You’ve got far more options than your typical green so it’s time to make use of the rainbow. Distinct colors and color combinations can not only create instant product recognition but also evoke emotions on a subliminal level. Electric neon pink has a very different look and feel than a relaxing deep sea blue. Shiny silver or gold foil is something else altogether.
It’s also important to not consider individual colors but color combinations as well. There is a reason we think of Rastafarians and Bob Marley every time we see red, yellow, and green. That’s no accident, and we’re not the only ones.
Gone is the time where you could just slap a 5 or 7-point marijuana leaf over your brand name and call it a day. That used to be enough when you just wanted to identify yourself as a cannabis product distributor, but now you’ll get lost in the sea of a million other products that also have a leaf on it. Come up with a logo that not only provides instant and distinct recognition but, again, appeals to your audience. An animated character is going to appeal to a very different audience than a slick and edgy graphic image. Slants and curves, bold and clean lines – every font tells a story. The more clarity you have with regard to who your ideal cannabis customer is, the easier it will be to design that logo.
What do you want to say? A dispensary isn’t a library and, unlike other retail markets, your consumers won’t always have time to just idly browse at their leisure. So, you need to convey your message as clearly as possible in as few words as possible. A memorable slogan can do your work for you. What makes you different from the rest of the herd? Are your edibles the tastiest or the most potent? Are your vapes the smoothest or the most affordable? Is your company committed to being all organic or supporting sustainable growth? Make sure you are clear on all of this and that your copy clearly represents your products and your company as a whole.
You have the colors, logo and copy – and now the true work starts: how will you package your products? This comes back to knowing your ideal cannabis customer. If you want to appeal to the modern-day hippie, organic packaging with a vintage feel is your best bet. Do you want your product to be seen as a luxury brand with a higher price point for those with lots of disposable income? Or do you want to be the affordable choice that appeals to the everyday Joe or Joanna? The packaging is where it all comes together. Glass, plastic, cardboard, metal – each one has a different feel, and each one attracts a very distinct audience. Make your cannabis brand stick out among the crowd by doing the work to get your packaging just right.
Once you’ve got your branding in tip-top shape, it needs to be seen by your ideal cannabis customer. But how? And where?
Point of sale
You can focus on the places where your product is sold. Visual cues are important. Product displays and branded signs at the dispensaries are, of course, a great idea – but you are generally talking about a small retail space with a plethora of other brands. Also, each dispensary has its own layout and their own size restrictions so you have to be in the know to make that kind of product placement work for you.
It is crucial to have your own website so that interested customers can learn more about your company and your products. Getting your name out in industry publications and their websites is also a great way to go. Social media can be a little trickier to navigate for cannabis brands, so make sure you read up on the rules related to each social media platform you plan to promote your products on.
Cannabis Trade Shows
This is, by far, the very best opportunity to make your cannabis brand stand out among the crowd. When you attend a cannabis trade show you have the opportunity to meet your customers face-to-face. You can give out product samples to let the customers see for themselves just how amazing your product really is, or hand out promotional items so they can think of your product each and every time they use your free gift.
If you decide that a cannabis trade show is the way to go then there is no better one to attend than CannaCon. With expos all over the United States, CannaCon is the nation’s leading business-to-business cannabis conference.
At a CannaCon expo, there is unlimited opportunity to make your cannabis brand stand out among the crowd. In addition to promoting yourself and meeting new customers, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about your industry, gain valuable knowledge on marketing initiatives and sales strategies, as well as network with others in your field. Register today for a CannaCon event in your area.