The stats are in: cannabis is the next “big” economy. Cannabis sales topped $6.7B in 2016 and by 2020, California’s cannabis market alone will top that number.
Not too long ago, “marketing” to cannabis users was an easy proposition, there were a handful of publications and communities around which dedicated cannabis users gathered, they all had one thing in common: cannabis use. Despite access to cannabis, in some ways, this was the easy days because everyone who was willing to subscribe, opt-in and discuss cannabis was passionate. It was like a small, intimate club where everyone had the same password to get in.
But today’s cannabis user isn’t so easy to categorize. Because of increased availability and acceptance, today’s cannabis user is likely to view cannabis as an adjunct to their life, not a defining characteristic of their self-story. That means the vast majority of the cannabis users of today and tomorrow are only mildly interested in “cannabis culture,” instead, they want to know how cannabis is going to fit into their lives and their cultures. In short, marketing or press targeted towards “cannabis users” is like marketing to a demographic as broad as “women.”
What this means for cannabis business community is in order to execute successful cannabis marketing and PR campaigns, you need to be extremely clear on where and why and for whom your product works. If your product is a product that’s proudly stoner, that’s cool – just realize that Moms aren’t likely to relate to those marketing or public relations stories. Today’s cannabis brands need to put a stake in the ground, define their customer and be proud of how the brand fits into the customer’s life.
Get to know your target market, are they using cannabis publicly or just with close friends? Do they use cannabis to inspire creativity or to get some sleep? How old are your customers are they trendy millennials or are they nostalgic boomers? As importantly, what are they doing when they aren’t using cannabis?
Understanding what your customer is doing when they aren’t using cannabis is critical, especially now, with advertising and media restrictions still in place.
While the new, huge cannabis market is good for business, it’s time for cannabis brands to double down on branding by being exceptionally clear about the motivations of their customers and that’s harder than it sounds.