With the Western world inching ever closer to practically complete legalization of cannabis, many marijuana-based companies are shoring up their marketing activities in an effort to stand out as the consumer demand for cannabis (and associated products) soars.
As such, we thought it’d be helpful to identify some of the current trends in marijuana marketing (as of 2017), thereby giving cannabis brands a quick snapshot of what’s happening in this rapidly evolving space.
So what are some of the current trends that are emerging in marijuana marketing? Here are a few.
1. Social media marijuana marketing. Social media activity for marijuana marketing is still fraught with difficulties when it comes to giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For example, as of last year, Instagram noted that “Buying or selling illegal or prescription drugs (even if it’s legal in your region), as well as promoting recreational drug use, is not allowed.” Nevertheless, marijuana and marijuana-related companies are resilient and have found ways to market on Instagram (and other social media platforms).
The Trend: Currently, the marijuana marketing trend on these popular social media sites is to push the limits of what’s allowed. For example, @projectsmoki – a business which sells finger rings which can hold joints, freeing up one’s hands for a wide range of activities – posts its most risque pictures with cigarettes, instead of joints. For example, the product is shown next to a glass of beer, but a cigarette is used in the image instead of a joint (see an example here). This is a creative solution to Instagram’s stringent, anti-cannabis conditions. Another example: @strainhunters – a Netherlands-based company which sells a variety of marijuana seeds to cannabis growers – has opted to primarily post images which depict the agricultural aspects of weed growing (with photos showing fields of marijuana growing in a region in Africa). In this way, many of their posts come across as more educational than promotional. With over a quarter of a million followers on Instagram, clearly they are doing something right.
Thus, the current trend in social media marketing for cannabis is to take a highly creative approach to circumvent restrictive social media policies. However, accounts promoting marijuana use are deleted all the time, so it remains risky terrain to navigate.
2. Brand positioning – from strictly wellness to more mainstream. Previously, dispensaries and other cannabis companies would adopt a brand position that focused on the wellness and medicinal aspects of marijuana consumption.
The Trend: There is an increasingly visible trend towards going mainstream. Advertising for marijuana products is shifting towards lifestyle-based messaging which seek to create a point of differentiation between a given brand and competing companies – based not on wellness claims but instead on a lifestyle image which appeals to a specific target audience.
3. Expanding consumer demographics. Cannabis consumption (and thus marijuana product branding) has traditionally been associated with young men; however, this is changing rapidly.
The Trend: New marijuana marketing approaches are created to appeal to diverse demographics. For example, Whoopi & Maya – a company which sells medicinal marijuana products – has a marketing theme which targets women and older adults.
4. Marijuana marketing tackles negative stereotypes. The “hippie stoner” stereotype casts cannabis consumption in a largely negative light; this, in turn, prevents many potential consumers from actively investing in cannabis products.
The Trend: A current trend in marijuana marketing that has surfaced is the use of marketing messaging which actively destroys the typical “stoner” stereotypes; for an excellent example of this, look no further than the #facesofcannabis campaign – which reveals the startling diversity of individuals who consume cannabis.