Some may say that cannabis is a product that sells itself. After all, who doesn’t love weed? But in America’s current green rush, things aren’t quite that simple. Cannabis businesses need to find new ways to compete and stand out in an oversaturated licensed market.
Not to mention, the cannabis industry is limited in what promotional platforms they can use and how they can use them. Each business — even non-plant-touching companies within the space — must follow rigorous (and often convoluted) guidelines for digital advertising and marketing as it relates cannabis products and services.
So what’s the solution? Build strategic partnerships with lifestyle companies that emulate the same core values, consumer bases, aesthetics and brand culture.
And what can the cannabis industry learn from the music industry? Here are a few things:
Focus on building a strong brand. A strong brand is essential for any business, but it’s especially important in the cannabis industry, where there is a lot of competition. The music industry is a great example of how to build a strong brand. Artists and labels invest heavily in branding, from developing a unique sound to creating iconic visuals. Snoop Dogg has built a strong brand around his image as a laid-back, stoner rapper. His music videos are always full of weed references, and he’s even released a line of cannabis-infused products.
Use social media to connect with your audience. The music industry has been very successful at using social media to reach its audience. Artists and labels use platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share news, music, and behind-the-scenes content. For example, Wiz Khalifa has over 50 million followers on Instagram. He uses his platform to share photos of himself smoking weed, promoting his music, and interacting with his fans.
Partnering with influencers can be a great way to reach a new audience and generate buzz for your brand. The music industry has a long history of working with influencers. For example, record labels will often partner with celebrities to promote new albums. Snoop Dogg has partnered with the cannabis company Leafs by Snoop. The company has released a line of cannabis products that are endorsed by Snoop Dogg and n 2018, cannabis company MedMen partnered with him to create a line of branded merchandise that includes clothing, accessories, and even a line of cannabis products.
Get creative with marketing. The cannabis industry is still relatively new, so there’s a lot of room for creativity. The music industry is a great source of inspiration for creative marketing ideas. For example, artists and labels often use music videos, live performances, and other creative events to promote their work. The cannabis company High Times has a popular annual cannabis festival called the High Times Cannabis Cup. The festival features live music, food, and cannabis products from all over the world. In 2019, cannabis company Canopy Growth sponsored the Lollapalooza music festival and the following year Curaleaf partnered with Spotify to create a cannabis-themed playlist. The playlist features music that is inspired by cannabis culture.
If the cannabis industry wants to take a cue from the music industry, they should focus on building a strong brand, using social media to connect with their audience, partnering with influencers, and getting creative with their marketing. But let’s be real, the cannabis industry already has a pretty strong brand. I mean, who doesn’t associate Snoop Dogg with weed? And let’s not forget the genius marketing move of naming a strain “Girl Scout Cookies” or putting weed in brownies and calling them “special” brownies. So maybe the cannabis industry doesn’t need to learn much from the music industry after all. Just keep doing what you’re doing, cannabis industry, and we’ll keep enjoying the fruits of your labor (and by fruits, we mean edibles).