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Cannabis Business Marketing – Are We Remaining Authentic?

cannabis marketing

Self awareness and authenticity takes work and communication. We don’t always know how we actually feel, or if the ideas we have are genuinely good for our businesses. Cannabis marketing in todays environment has proven to be more tricky than anticipated.

In our marketing, we hope to remain true to our principals and standards of quality. But, marketing a cannabis business is tough. We are all in a business that has no marketing history. Growers come out of the gates very proud of their craft and don’t want to be percieved as “sell outs”. By selling out meaning we are pandering to the system or the man. With your marketing message, how do you balance proving to your peers you are a real “OG in this game”, while appealing to the masses in order to grow a business? For us, running all of our marketing efforts from the website, packaging, booth displays and product offerings by multiple people in our company is a necissity. Anarchy on micro scales in a business is real, sometimes we run with a terrible idea for a new product or the box it goes in. Communication and collaboration are the only antedote.

As marketing director, its something I struggle with. When reviewing the direction our associates are going in their branding, the Zero Gravity trip is certainly not the mainstream cannabis vibe. We originally intended for Zero Gravity Extracts to be a cannabis concentrates company. In that spirit, we stayed away from the all natural, hippy, earthy vibe and went for a more sharp, modern, hipster younger crowd. Having a niche in any industry, and marketing to suit, has always been the way I have done business. I feel like we did a good job hitting our target market, but then our growers ended up doing a really amazing job in producing flowers on a small production scale. For as much as folks wanted our oils, they wanted the flower more. So, we needed to change the name to Zero Gravity Cannabis to encompass more of an entire product portfolio.

Another major consideration for your branding campaign are rules and regulations. This business is HIGHLY scrutinized to the point of being ridiculous. Some rules on branding a logo getting thrown at us include a) No food in a logo b) No human or animal shapes in a logo c) Can only be an abstract image. The second one scares us with our spaceman, but we’ll see what happens. At this point, depending on what state you are in will determine what your branding parameters are. Luckily, here in Maine, we can get laws that make no sense changed.

Childproof packaging has also proven to be a hudle. While we absolutely agree with everything being in a childproof package, it can be hard to find. Most companies in our business try to be environmentally conscious, which is impossible with childproff packaging. We’ve come across some great cardboard based packaging, but the MOQs are way to high for our business making cost a barrier. Currently it seems the best way to childproof these products is to be open an honest with kids on what it is. Afterall, cannabis isn’t going anywhere so let’s educate them as we do with booze or anyother mind/body altering substance.

If you need any help with branding, marketing, web development or packaging design reach out to our partners at:

www.scarletfire.io

As an example of Marketing and Advertising guidelines, here is what the State of Maine has drafted:

The Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) is providing the following guidance regarding the requirements of registrants in the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program (MMMP) and licensees in the Adult Use Marijuana Program (AUMP) related to advertising. Program participants are reminded and encouraged to review the restrictions and prohibitions on advertising that appear in 22 M.R.S. § 2429-B (for MMMP) and 28-B M.R.S. §§ 701-704 and 18-691 C.M.R. ch. 1, § 5 (for AUMP). 

OMP’s main concern and focus of this guidance is whether advertisements have a high likelihood of reaching, or are designed to appeal to, individuals less than 21 years of age. 

Generally, registrants and licensees should consider the content of any advertisement and any aspect of such advertising that could be construed as appealing to those under 21 years of age. Additionally, registrants and licensees must consider the physical placement of advertising and other marketing materials to ensure such advertisements are not placed in prohibited areas (e.g. in close proximity to a preexisting public or private school and other locations where those under 21 years of age gather). 

Registrants and licensees advertising via television, radio, print, and other mass marketing, must be able to produce sufficient marketing data to demonstrate that the consumer base of the advertisement is appropriate. 

Registrants and licensees wishing to engage in digital or web-based marketing must closely consider that the statute prohibits unsolicited advertising or marketing on the internet. Additionally, advertising or marketing directed toward location-based devices is prohibited unless the marketing is a mobile device application installed on the device by the owner of the device who is 21 years of age or older. Furthermore, it is required that those advertising or otherwise marketing via the internet—including on social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.)—employ age verification techniques to ensure that visitors to those sites are over 21 years of age. For example: 

  • Facebook Page → Page Settings → General → Age Restrictions → People 21 and Over 
  • Instagram Business Profile → Settings → Business → Minimum Age → Default → 21 

Advertising occurring on these platforms should, similarly, be limited to individuals 21 years of age or older who have liked and/or followed social media accounts managed by, or on behalf of, licensees and registrants. 

In assessing the appropriateness of the advertisement, OMP will consider marketing data but understands incidental exposure to individuals under 21 years of age is unavoidable (e.g. an otherwise permissible print advertisement in a publication in a common waiting area).

In many instances, context is going to be critical. Permissible marketing activity could be deemed impermissible depending on the audience that is likely to encounter the advertising. For example, advertising or marketing at a publicly accessible sporting event or music venue would be not be permitted unless the specific event or venue is restricted to individuals 21 years of age or older. 

This guidance is not an exhaustive list of all program requirements regarding advertising and should not be construed to exempt a registrant or licensee from any state or federal advertising regulations. We encourage you to consult an attorney regarding additional requirements related to advertising and marketing within the MMMP and AUMP.

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