Make no mistake about it, the cannabis industry is on fire.
A few emerging cannabis entrepreneurs are finding niche markets to position their cannabis & CBD brands. We’re starting to see trends for products marketed specifically to athletes, boomers, & tourists, just to name a few.
With so much competition in the market & thousands of brands emerging, it’s never been more important to find a way to stand out on cluttered dispensary shelves, capture your ideal customers’ attention, and show them why your cannabis products are a step above the rest. And the best way to do that? The answer is the same among most consumer-driven industries: branding.
Effectively branding your products is key if you want to edge out the competition, build a loyal customer base, and drive sales of your products. But how exactly do you do that? What are the marketing and branding basics you need to know to succeed in the increasingly competitive cannabis market?
If you want to succeed as a brand, it’s important to be honest—even if it’s painful—about how people perceive your brand. Your brand positioning is an articulation of what differentiates you in the marketplace, and how you are different from your competitors.
By conducting both an in-depth internal and external discovery audit of emerging brands in the cannabis industry, we started to notice similarities and discrepancies in their brand perception. These insights helped us understand the gap between where they were as a brand, and where they wanted to be.
After helping them better understand their place in the industry, we engaged in some of the toughest work—identifying and articulating who they were, what they sell, and how they wanted to be perceived by consumers. Based on our initial core identity audit and assessment, we were able to help them communicate their vision, mission, and values. By the end of the project, we helped reposition their cannabis brand to be more consistent and refined in an attempt to better stand out in the marketplace.
In the beginning, the brave entrepreneurs that entered the space simply had to exist. Demand was high and supply was spotty in places. Marketing efforts for marijuana and CBD products from cbdoiladviser.com, an online seller, that did take place in that climate focused on image control. With all the negative stereotypes associated with pot use, companies needed to combat bias. Differentiation took a backseat to PR, in some ways.
But as the market swells, more and more players are entering the space, legal CBD capsules and marijuana providers find themselves in a position where branding finally matters.
Unlike many other industries, though, the game is all about differentiation within a narrow scope. Bias is still a concern. As the Atlantic explains:
Marijuana businesses are now focused on making their brands seem distinct from one another, but still inviting to the general public. LivWell Enlightened Health, one of Colorado’s largest dispensary chains, publishes ads featuring some of the diligent-looking farmers and scientists it employs, to communicate professionalism and trustworthiness.
This sort of marketing strategy makes a lot of sense. After all, rebranding of recreational drugs like cigarettes and alcohol as lifestyle brands was incredibly effective in decades past. That said, such rebranding efforts didn’t exactly take place in the Prohibition era. That is essentially the climate marijuana dispensaries face today, which raises what you can and cannot do with your marketing. As Erik Devaney writes for Hubspot:
Due to the legal complications surrounding marijuana — i.e., it’s illegal at the federal level, but at the state level it can be decriminalized, legal for medicinal use, and/or legal for recreational use — questions about what’s legal and what’s not in the world of marijuana marketing pop up all the time.
As Melanie Rose Rodgers, a Managing Partner at the Denver, Colorado-based marijuana marketing agency Cannabrand told me, “One major challenge our clients face is all the red tape that exists due to marijuana’s federally illegal Schedule I status.”
Further complicating matters is that guidance on the subject is necessarily location specific. For instance, outdoor advertising for marijuana dispensaries is illegal in Colorado. Meanwhile, in Washington, this billboard is visible for all to see.
Once you have a solid understanding of the rules in your state, though, most marketing experts in the space seem to agree: the biggest opportunity for growing cannabis dispensaries is in design.
Need help with positioning your cannabis brand? We can help.