Brands Cannabis Marketing Technology

How Cannabis Brands Can Create an Experiential Marketing Strategy

If necessity is the mother of invention, no industry is quite as well-positioned to innovate new marketing strategies as cannabis.

Legalization has brought swift change to perceptions, stigma and financials. In 2012, the first U.S. states legalized cannabis for recreational use, and by 2018 it was a $10.4 billion industry — with predictions of growth to nearly $30 billion by 2025, according to data by New Frontier.

But regulations around promoting cannabis products are stringent, ever-changing and vary drastically depending on location. As creatives, we have an opportunity to craft messages that both reach and resonate with audiences. My company specializes in experiential marketing, and I believe developing an experiential marketing strategy is key in creating those connections.

I’ll show you why, but first, here’s a little context:

The U.S. and Cannabis: A Complicated History

When you consider alcohol prohibition, the scheduling of drugs under the 1971 Controlled Substances Act and the fluctuating decriminalization of cannabis, you’ll see that the U.S. has been no stranger to changes in substance legality.

Now, much like alcohol in 1933, cannabis finds itself on the other side of a complex history. It’s an industry in its legal infancy, crawling out from under years of social stigma and criminalization while remaining popular across broad demographics. It has been estimated that in the mid-1800s, over 500 hashish parlors popped up in New York City alone — with The New York Times referring to it in an 1854 article as “a fashionable narcotic.”

Although it was illegal in several states by the 1930s, 1937 marked the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act, which regulated the “importation, cultivation, possession and/or distribution of marijuana,” according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Seventy-five years later, states began legalizing cannabis for recreational use. However, federal constraints persist, and cannabis remains classified as a Schedule I drug. These regulations make product marketing complicated.

The continuing federal ban precludes a national marketing strategy, so state rules run the gambit. For example, Colorado has strict sign regulations on when and where ads can be placed, whereas New York allows a single black-and-white sign outside of a cannabis business. Online, social media regulations can be just as tricky. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for example, all ban the promotion of cannabis. Cannabis brands have worked around these rules with influencer marketing, but influencers can be wary lest their accounts get suspended or deleted.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Katie Bottrell on AdAge

Published: April 23, 2020

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