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THE MARKETING MAZE OF CANNABIS

By August 17, 2018Uncategorized

As cannabis use has become legalized in more and more states, there are bona fide strengths to acknowledge, opportunities to suss out, and new challenges to face when it comes to branding, marketing, and associated products.

A few things that cannabis has going for it are:
1) that it’s becoming more widely accepted
2) business service offerings have increased
3) consumers are eager to learn more about it.

Newfound opportunities for marketing cannabis include expanding demographics and experiential in-store marketing. Obstacles still include forbidden advertising platforms ongoing health and policy debates.

Since marijuana has taken center stage—with all of its controversy—it has still become increasingly accepted. Companies are offering business, legal, and financial services to cannabis businesses where they didn’t before. Cannabis has proven to be a legitimate and reliable business partner. Subsequently, the general population is curious. Consumers are seeking facts, educating themselves, and becoming experts on the plant.

The cannabis target audience is growing and changing. We thought it was interesting five years ago, when the demographic for cannabis users showed a majority of males aged 35 and up, married, employed, with an upper-class income vs. single, over-grown college freshmen with arrested development and goofy grins. Nowadays, there are plenty of newer additions to the cannabis audience.

A few to note are:
* Creatives; adults who use cannabis to enhance their expressions
* Patients; medical marijuana users
* Parents; replacing their night cap cocktail with a joint
* Millennials; accept the use of cannabis overall

A significant growing target is women. The female user is primarily 30 to 40 years old and hasn’t used the drug before. They are attracted to non-smoking options such as edibles, tinctures, and creams and are appealed to the use of cannabis for stress management and relaxation including meditation.

Experiential marketing is gaining popularity among cannabis sellers. It allows a dispensary to engage shoppers by providing in-store demonstrations and round table discussions. Customers learn more about specific brands and the varieties of products, while sellers learn more about the consumers’ wants.
As the world of MJ products grows along with savvy consumers, marketing messages will need to speak to buyers interested in specific effects. According to BDS Analytics’ top 10 Cannabis Market Trends for 2018, the average number of reasons consumers provide for consuming
cannabis is eight—including everything from “have fun” to “manage anxiety.” This offers brands a wealth of marketing opportunities. For example, the No. 1 brands in select categories in California and Colorado market for specific effects, like sleep and energy.

Although marijuana is legal and booming in states like California, Washington, and Colorado, and it’s becoming more widely accepted than ever before, that doesn’t mean it’s an automatic green light for advertisers. Digital and tech platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, and Google have “just said NO” ensuring marijuana brands are not allowed to advertise, even in states where it is legal. Also, many main stream media outlets are still forbidding cannabis ads. All the while, the health debate is alive and well. Some experts won’t budge when it comes to touting the risks of using cannabis, while others argue the opposite. This mixed messaging muddies the voice of marketers and hinders clarity and credibility.

From its early stages, we’ve watched the tiny bud of cannabis business mature into an explosive consumer marketplace. While the current climate of cannabis marketing potential is both challenging and promising, ultimately, acceptance for the industry remains constant and growing, along with marijuana sales. Go ahead marijuana, bring on the madness—this marketer isn’t worried.

Sandra Freeman

Author Sandra Freeman

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