The cannabis industry is said to be the fastest growing market in the world. It has evolved from a marginalized plant in a black market to a thriving global industry that’s expected to be valued at nearly $56 billion within the next six years — $26 billion of which is predicted to be in the United States. New cannabis brands, mergers, headlines and marketing campaigns pop up daily. The result: An evolving customer base is stepping out of the shadows.
Brands that wish to reach this discerning, increasingly diverse group of cannabis consumers may need to move far beyond clichéd stoner stereotypes in their marketing campaigns. That outdated image no longer always applies. According to a recent report by New Frontier Data, “in the United States, over 24 million, or 9.9 percent of adults age 18-plus consume cannabis regularly, and 115 million (48.2 percent) report consuming it in their lifetimes.”
In cities across the country, my company publishes a series of monthly lifestyle magazines centered on a progressive editorial stance on this fast-evolving industry. I’ve seen some of our advertising partners cling to outdated marketing tactics and languish, while others appeal to the new normal of more inclusive lifestyle messaging and thrive.
You have to know who your market is and what drives their needs in order to reach them. So who’s using cannabis, and why?
According to Deloitte, the typical cannabis consumer could be described as a risk taker and is typically age 18-34. Generally, they consume cannabis several times weekly. Members of Generation Z, in particular, appear to be drawn to cannabis. “Gen Z in the U.S. is twice as likely to use cannabis than the national average,” reports Bloomberg. Younger Americans tend to view cannabis as a healthier choice than alcohol consumption.
However, as legalization expands, more “conservative experimenters” age 35-54, with a college education and family or other such responsibilities, are expected to join the market.
Women are key, as they drive 70 to 80% of overall consumer purchasing. When it comes to cannabis, women currently make up 38% of the total market share, and the number of women consumers nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018. At this rate, the scale between men and women consumers will be equal by 2022. The growth potential for this demographic is exponential.
Seniors are the fastest growing group of cannabis consumers in the U.S., according to The New Yorker. This growth is largely the result of medical cannabis becoming their medicine of choice for a variety of maladies and illnesses, especially with the rising costs of traditional health care. As one expert reported, “In 2013 alone, when 17 states had legalized medical marijuana, Medicare saved over $165 million.”
Develop Marketing That Matters
When your brand uses wording and images that reflect the lifestyle of the market you want to reach, people will likely respond. Try these tips:
1. Start Right
Ensure that your brand’s logo, website and other materials address the consumer that you’ve identified as the target. Men and women older than 35 are different from the traditional young, male cannabis market. Use images and verbiage that are relatable and relevant to them.
Invest in professional logo design, and choose something that’s memorable with details that signify the brand. The goal is to create something easily identifiable. Think of the Nike Swoosh, the McDonald’s “M” and Apple’s apple. Create something that a customer sees and immediately identifies with your brand. As the cannabis marketplace continues to grow, set up your company to stand out from the crowd. Don’t opt for the obvious. If it’s obvious, it’s probably been done. For instance, avoid the color green. It’s overused.
Next time you’re in the grocery store, head down the chip aisle. Note the number of tortilla chip options alone. You probably have a favorite, and it likely doesn’t taste all that different from the one next to it. Why do you gravitate to it? Branding. There’s something about the essence of certain brands that capture our attention and present an aesthetic we want to be a part of, consciously or subconsciously. It comes down to fonts, colors, size, graphics and other considerations. Think about what motivates you to purchase one product over another. Trust your instincts, and build something that calls to you. And trust that it will find an audience.
2. Build And Develop A Smart Message
Smart messaging often has nothing to do with communicating product or service attributes. It’s more about connecting on an aspirational level. Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan doesn’t mention its product or quality — or even what the “it” is that you can just do. The brand simply suggests — possibly even challenges — you to do something. And people really connect with that message.
Inspiring a cannabis consumer to think something is fine. Inspiring them to feel something is ideal; people take action and connect with your brand when they feel compelled to do so. Help them feel like a part of something bigger than them that can enhance their life somehow, and you can create a loyal following.
Consider crafting your message without product images. Use of product images is clichéd and outdated. Instead, use words and images that reflect the lifestyle of your demographic and speak to the issues that actually motivate their desire to use your product and thereby establish it and your brand as their solution.
3. Create High Standards, And Stick To Them
This is still a largely unregulated industry with limited advertising options, as most mainstream publications and media outlets can’t or won’t allow cannabis advertising due to gray areas of legalization and/or fear of alienating and offending non-cannabis users, so create your own standards for your brand, and adhere to them. Ask yourself: Does my message speak to my consumer while being respectful of others? Is it appropriate for a minor to see? Always take the high road. Be worthy of respect, and you’ll help elevate the whole industry.
This market may just be the first ever to emerge with an established customer base that has no brand loyalty. Capitalize on that advantage by developing marketing that matters to your target audience.
Source: https://www.forbes.com / On Jun 27, 2019, 07:00am / By