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Cannabis Marketing and Packaging - A Word With You Please?

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  • Cannabis Marketing and Packaging - A Word With You Please?

    The cannabis industry is still young, I get that. But, cannabis companies, can we just put a bug in your ear about one thing?

    Enough with the Baby Boomer marketing already!

    Cannabis has been a cultivated plant for 5000 years. It is used worldwide in some form or another, legalized or not. Let's see which generation buys it the most:

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    From FlowHub, this graph shows Mills as the majority cannabis customer segment, GenX in second place, and GenZ, still emerging on the consumer scene, as edging out Baby Boomers in market activity.
    In case you all haven't heard, Baby Boomers are not the cool people anymore.

    So why are you still packaging and marketing cannabis products as if you MUST have attended Woodstock in order to accept cannabis?

    No, really, Baby Boomers are the most conservative demographic out there right now. Hippies at Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco did not invent marijuana. So when my kids return home for a visit and drag me out shopping, I end up finding displays like this:

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    This is just some topical beauty product. There's really nothing that decadent about it, it's just hemp-based glop to shower with. You don't need to tie-dye this! It doesn't need peace symbols all over it. It doesn't need to look like the Grateful Dead threw up here. It's hemp, it's a plant like any of the other plants you use in beauty products. It's not even going to get you high by washing your hair.

    See, just around the corner from that display, we escape the '60s. We have ordinary bottles of stuff on the shelf here. The packaging is still "dazed and confused" with that "Hempz" spelling and psychedelic label design, but at least we brought it back down from Gallagher smashing watermelons back there.

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    Although there's still just too much head shop aesthetic when you get to the product details...

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    It's "body butter," but it's hard to tell if you're supposed to rub it on your skin or frost a batch of pot brownies with it.

    My point here is that marketers need to make a clean break from the Baby Boomer aesthetic. Cannabis isn't "for hippies" any more. It's OK, we "get" cannabis now without plastering Cheech and Chong all over everything.

    As I pointed out in my glossary piece on head shops, that is an outdated cultural signal from the days of total prohibition, when you had to disguise marijuana as this lifestyle thing. That's not necessary any more now that prohibition is ending. What cannabis needs now is a normalized image; a respectable product used by people from all walks of life, many of whom hold down 9-to-5 jobs, have degrees, and don't wander around barefoot.

    Take a cue from the dispensary scene:

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    There, it's just an ordinary product with maybe a hint of herbal essence to it. See, there's no Yellow Submarines or Bob Marley posters needed.

    Is that so hard?

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