Each week we will be introducing our contributor partners who will be providing you with valuable insight to help you grow your business. This week we are introducing Kindtyme. Kindtyme provides top-shelf digital design for the cannabis industry. Custom websites, graphics, photography, and technology for marketing all types of marijuana businesses. This week they are sharing their insight on social media for cannabis.
For years, the marijuana industry has been closely comparing itself to tobacco and alcohol. Not just due to their once-illegal status, but because regulations still dictate how most of these businesses are ran.
Yet while these regulations can be inconvenient, it’s important to remember that substance products aren’t the only ones needing to meet strict criteria. Marketers have always had to navigate through rules and technicalities to legally promote products.
So while many cannabusiness owners let these rules restrict the way that they market themselves, this doesn’t need to be the case.
When it comes to cannabis, you still need to use traditional marketing tactics in order to succeed. And with the direction that the industry is heading, businesses aren’t going to have the choice for much longer!
The Current Scope of Cannabis Marketing
With the recent progress in legalization, the state of marketing for marijuana products is evolving at a quick pace.
In the past four years we’ve seen a huge shift in the way businesses promote themselves, from product names to the means in which messages are shared.
For many legalized states, cannabis marketing regulations are currently close to that of tobacco. Make the product known only to the appropriate crowd, but leave out specifics and avoid over-glamorizing the brand.
Unlike with tobacco, the rules for marketing your cannabis-related products are far less defined. This causes a lot of confusion for businesses, as most have no idea what they should be doing, or what they can and can’t get away with.
Let’s look at medical first. These brands are limited in their messaging, seeing as their purpose is to resolve an ailment or illness. Likewise, their target market is restricted to those who have gone through the vetting process.
Because of this, most medical brands tend to keep a “rough-around-the-edges” look, as they often need to stick to small-scale marketing that promotes only to the local communities.
Since the FDA keeps them from making any lavish claims, most medical cannabusinesses stick to just the basics in their marketing.
So while there is room for a mainstream marketing approach in the medical sector, very few of these businesses take advantage of it. Perhaps out of fear or because the market in these communities is still small enough that they don’t need to – at least for now.
Meanwhile in recreational states, the negative stigma is noticeably going away. Marijuana is quickly becoming a cultural norm for these communities, not unlike alcohol or tobacco.
The change has offered much more flexibility to these businesses in terms of marketing and branding strategies. Most recreational brands aim for a polished look and a social feel, making them seem much more approachable to the average consumer.
Although many medical brands have used marketing avenues like ads and social media, the recreational market has pushed these strategies to new levels within the industry. Despite the risk of shut-downs and backlash, these brands are choosing mainstream tools and using them to their full potential.
And it’s obvious that the hard work is paying off, as more states push to legalize cannabis and general public polls turn more in-favor of the idea.
The Future of Cannabis Marketing
Recent changes in the medical & recreational industries are moving the rest of the country (and even the world) closer to normalization with each passing day. But with cultural acceptance comes another issue that cannabis businesses must prepare to face- and that’s commoditization.
Once the public has grown to generally accept marijuana in the marketplace, it will become another “household item”. The appeal of a once-illegal substance will die, the demand will even out, and the mass growth of the current industry will settle.
In short, it’s going to become more difficult for you to attract a crowd. But it will also make the other parts of running your business easier.
Think of the last time you bought grapes. What mattered to you the most? Color? Ripeness? Origin? Cost?
Most likely, it’s a little of each. But what you probably didn’t care about was the brand. It doesn’t matter as much… but why? Because all the options are good. The market has already weeded out the products that weren’t worth paying for. What’s left is indistinguishable.
The same scenario is likely to happen to cannabis flower, vape batteries, and any other product with a low entry cost and minimal product variety. There will be hundreds of businesses competing for that same market share, until time leaves only the best.
Mass distribution of cannabis products will force companies to become more innovative with their marketing (if they want to stay in the game). It won’t be about the products for much longer, so businesses will need a bigger way to distinguish their brand from others offering the same product. A way to create messages and spark connections that keep people interested.
Compete as a Competitor
Looking around at the current state of the industry, you can already see popular cannabis brands moving in the direction of personal, emotion-based marketing.
Their ads and social media pages are filled with images of people on beaches, in baths, and enjoying their lives. These brands don’t revolve around the products themselves, but instead focus on offering a visual appeal that speaks to the lifestyle of their customers.
While this has been the way of traditional marketing for years, cannabis businesses have only recently needed to take the same strategy. The good news is that it works! Much better than simply advertising your products would.
A great example is Leafs by Snoop. The flower is grown by the dispensary chain LivWell, but is marketed with the famous rapper’s name and brand. In most stores, Leafs by Snoop sells out at double the price of other cannabis flower – even though, at its core, it’s exactly the same!
Are you surprised? Probably not. As a consumerist culture, we’re used to paying more for brands that we really love. Even if we can’t define exactly what it is that makes us feel more passionate about them.
In order for the cannabis industry to keep moving forward, it will need to adopt a marketing approach that’s more friendly to the everyday consumer (cannabis or non-cannabis).
Businesses will need to shift focus from their products to their customers, finding ways they can stand out and attract a loyal base, despite an oversaturated market.
And most importantly, cannabis brands will need to overcome their fear of industry regulations, using them to find opportunities for unique strategies instead of allowing them to restrict any creativity in marketing.
Still have questions? Need a starting point? Check out: http://kindtyme.com/