TURNING A NEW LEAF
Junior Strategist & Copywriter
February 3, 2020
As more and more states legalize cannabis, similar opportunities exist for the brands that want to sell
Using our Brand Landscape tool, we can help you determine where you “live” as a brand. By looking at where you are located in relation to your competitors, we can develop an effective strategy that is authentic to your brand promise while also identifying whitespace opportunities for future growth. For example, Marley Natural—named after singer Bob Marley—leverages marijuana’s existing history and traditions from the 1960s and sources their products from “transcendent old school strains.” Conversely, Kiva Confections is a brand that wanted to do something entirely new and worked in laboratories to determine the best way to infuse cannabis into chocolate bars, gummies
Based on your positioning, you can then adopt particular naming strategies for your brand and product line. Whether you are built around holistic wellbeing, self-care, or
Like any new product, the excitement and anticipation around attractive packaging and its opening ceremony will be key differentiators for new cannabis brands. Think back on the last time you unboxed a smartphone or ripped open a Christmas present. However, cannabis products may require different storage solutions for myriad challenges. For example, packaging will not only be visually attractive but also needs to ensure freshness for longer periods of
We’ve already mentioned the Apple store, but other brands also invest great detail in making in-shop experiences unmistakably theirs. How consumers navigate an REI,
T-Mobile, Potbelly or Chipotle, for instance, is immeasurably important to the overall impression of these brands—and the in-shop experience has become a touchpoint in its own right. More than anything, the experiential aspects of cannabis stores may help eliminate the negative stigma surrounding marijuana. For example, The Source in Las Vegas is reminiscent of the Apple store with its use of glass, sleek bars and helpful staff, which has been immensely successful at drawing in consumers and encouraging them to explore. Don’t forget to lean into any seasonal strategies such as decorating for Christmas and offering Valentine’s Day promotions, among others.
In terms of reducing stigma, education is a surefire solution to normalize and enact acceptance of cannabis. While the stigma for cannabis revolves around relatively innocuous traits such as laziness and overeating to more charged ones such as encouraging crime, educating consumers on strains, medical benefits and usage occasions can aid in balancing out the stigma with specifics. There is a long history of using marijuana for treating pain, sleep disorders
Through the Southern Strategy and War on Drugs, former presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan explicitly linked marijuana to counterculture and crime which continues to disproportionally impact minorities in the United States. Marijuana cultivation requires hundreds of gallons of water and other finite resources. There is still so much research to be done to determine how exactly cannabis interacts with the body and the brain. Successful cannabis brands are not only motivated by selling their products but also contributing solutions to these overarching issues. For example, revenues from cannabis could be used towards legal fees to release nonviolent “criminals” or dismantle mass incarceration. Or, invest in solar panels and sustainability initiatives. Donate money to independent research institutions. Find a value you’re passionate about and demonstrate that you practice what you preach. Remember: today’s consumers buy brands that reflect their own values and they will be loyal to you if you live (and can back up) your brand promise. If not, they’ll find a brand that does.
To follow through with our tech thread, brands such as Apple, Facebook and Google have been recently involved in various lawsuits around privacy rights and misleading users about their personal data. Although these issues were unforeseeable to many consumers twenty years ago, they now play a significant part in how they interact (or don’t interact) with these brands while influencing the overall perception of them. Just like tech, the legal cannabis market is new and no one can predict what will happen twenty years from now. However, this doesn’t mean that brands should not attempt to be prepared for the future while also acknowledging one can never fully know. Will there be long-term consequences on health, government or public policy with the increasing use of cannabis? How will legalized marijuana impact the black market—or the environment? Thinking through these questions now as opposed to reacting to them later is a vital component for any brand strategy so you can thrive today and adapt in the future.
“Sales of recreational cannabis in legal states were estimated to reach $6.7 billion in 2018, a 158% increase since 2017. The market is forecast to reach $15.7 billion by 2022. The growth is due largely to new recreational use markets
Mintel, The Recreational Cannabis User – US September, 2018
The blunt truth
“In October 2017, 61% of Americans said
Mintel, The Recreational Cannabis User – US, September 2018