FROM THE CANNABIS MARKETER

The regulations concerning selling legal cannabis products are restrictive and well-defined.  On this front, the black market has a distinct advantage. This means legal producers and cannabis retailers need to be especially innovative at marketing – where the rules are less concrete. This has inherently led to a new way of thinking, and a new art of marketing cannabis.

A number of companies are becoming very creative when it comes to their efforts to become a marijuana brand.  They hope that consumers will grow to identify with the brand and become loyal customers. This is how traditional consumer products, especially commodity-like products have managed to become successful and powerful brands.

The easiest and cheapest way to get the marketing rolling, without giving the impression you’re ‘selling’ (frowned upon by regulators) is using your own channels to tell your story, and advertising to complement it.  Consider the following quote from the about page on the Spinach website:

“We only grow the chronic because when you’re having fun you should never have to worry about the quality of your Spinach™. Our Spinach™ is super frosty like your windshield in February, so kick back and relax, we got you covered.”

marketing cannabis
Spinach digital advertisement

Spinach™ is the second brand launched by Cronos Group for the domestic recreational market, following its premium brand COVE™. The beauty of the pitch is that there’s no mention of cannabis or a high.  And ‘quality’ is ambiguous, leaving to the imagination an interpretation; does it mean the high?  Is ‘frosty’ the taste? Similar to the Spinach™ digital ads (see digital ad on the left), the descriptors let the customer decide.

Seeing and reading the marketing spin that companies are developing makes it hard to believe they’re describing a relatively unvarying flower of a green plant species that you burn to get a buzz.

marketing cannabis
San Rafael ’71 digital advertisement

Perhaps there’s even more room for creative branding when it comes to edibles.  Some of the most identifiable brands worldwide correspond to treats and candy. Take San Rafael ’71 Gummies (see digital ad to the right), sold by MedReleaf, which in turn is owned by Aurora Cannabis (the company has been having some management issues of late, but their marketing is strong enough). To build buzz for the brand pre-legalization, San Rafael ’71 released a cannabis-inspired (and marijuana-free) beer – yet another attempt by a licensed producer to promote its recreational weed brand, without really saying that’s it’s weed. The Financial Post covered the brands promotional activities back in 2018:

Canadians might be somewhat familiar with this brand because of clever marketing in the lead up to legalization, including a pop-up shop selling San Rafael ‘71 beer in downtown Toronto.