Despite being a highly-regulated industry, cannabis sales are growing. Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 15.77%, resulting in a market volume of US $92.1 billion by 2027. This upward trajectory is a sign that cannabis marketing has found ways to navigate the complicated landscape of this sensitive category, and thrive.
Are you ready to outperform your competition with your cannabis marketing campaigns? Here are cannabis marketing strategies that will cultivate success.
The Cannabis Marketing Landscape
The rise of cannabis sales reflects how sentiment and perception around cannabis have been evolving. Changes in legislation across the world, including in Canada and USA, has made cannabis use less stigmatized, and more culturally normalized.
We’ve also seen the rise of public markets in cannabis. In recent years, capital was raised for public markets, and there was a resulting hype cycle as money was invested into the industry.
Despite the gains seen in the cannabis industry in recent years, there’s a lot of room for growth. There will continue to be purchases and consolidation, and we’ll continue to see more public markets in the US—especially with more states (and countries) coming online.
6 Cannabis Marketing Strategies
Ready to succeed in this budding industry? Let’s dive into 6 cannabis marketing strategies that can set you up for campaign success.
1. Note Marketing Regulation and Be Compliant
Compliance is a challenge in cannabis marketing because there are a number of regulations that limit the advertiser’s ability to drive conversions. Regulations around cannabis marketing vary between provinces and states in North America. This means the first crucial step in creating a cannabis campaign is to familiarize yourself with the regulations in the region where you’ll be advertising.
For example, regulations around cannabis sales in Ontario are tight. Online recreational cannabis purchases can only be done through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), which is the only legal online retailer of cannabis in the province.
When advertising cannabis in Canada, promoting cannabis and related products in any way that’s appealing to minors is restricted. You’re also not permitted to communicate information about its price or distribution.
It’s important to be on top of regulations so that you can mitigate risk while advertising in this industry. If you do get flagged for breaking regulations, there are serious ramifications, like losing your license.
2. Take a Consumer-Centric Approach
Creating a marketing strategy for a sensitive industry like cannabis makes it especially important to have a consumer-centric approach. Tight regulations make it extremely important to focus your cannabis marketing around consumer education and awareness building.
Successful customer-centric marketing requires a deep understanding of why your customers need (or want) what your company or product provides. To figure this out, build out customer profiles. These profiles provide factual information about the demographics and buying behaviours of your target audience.
A customer profile describes everything you need to know about a specified group of customers. You can then leverage that information to create a digital strategy that aligns with the wants and needs of that audience.
Another thing to keep in mind for building a customer-centric cannabis marketing strategy is to approach cannabis as a lifestyle product. Build campaigns around it that use quality marketing and visuals to communicate to audiences how cannabis fits their lifestyle. In the end, centering the customer will set you up for long-term success and growth.
3. Focus on Education
Cannabis can be a crowded market, and with so many restrictions around how it’s marketed, brand awareness is important. Because cannabis is a regulated product, it’s crucial to educate customers about the product and cannabis use. This gives them the confidence to buy, while also building their awareness of your brand.
There are many misconceptions about cannabis and the broad range of cannabis products available. This makes education a key part of your brand awareness strategy.
For example, CBD products are part of the cannabis industry, but many consumers are unaware that these products do not contain THC. You can leverage your cannabis marketing to clear up misconceptions like this, which will build customer confidence.
4. Get Creative With Your Creative Messaging
When developing your ad creatives for cannabis marketing, you need to be aware of compliance. Creatives in cannabis marketing are usually very simple because that’s what regulations require. Cannabis ads must have basic imagery and copy. They can’t show the product or people, and the copy cannot attempt to influence.
Instead cannabis marketers have to stick to neutral copy that highlights value adds like, “Delivery available same day.” Being creative is key because you need to send a compliant message without breaking any of the regulations in the geo you are advertising in.
It may seem like the regulations limit your opportunities to build out exciting campaigns, but actually, compliance doesn’t need to hold you back. You can find creative ways to work around cannabis marketing limitations.
There are solutions emerging that help in navigating compliance. For example, many demand-side platforms (DSPs) offer compliance packages. Another workaround is to purchase placements through private marketplace (PMP) deals.
5. Leverage Programmatic Advertising Channels
Let’s explore some of the best programmatic channels that you can leverage for your cannabis marketing strategies.
According to Insider Intelligence, by 2024 a fifth of all time spent with digital media in the US will go to digital audio. Time spent with audio is increasing, which signals the growing relevance of this digital channel.
Programmatic audio automates the selling and insertion of ads into audio content. Ads reach your audience through various devices, including desktop, mobile, and tablet. You’re able to buy targeted ads from all the major audio publishers using one system.
Regulations in cannabis marketing mean there are limits to what you can explicitly show in an ad. But with audio, you can leverage the power of imagination to educate your cannabis audience.
Data shows that compared to other media, digital audio is more likely to engage long-term memory for both details and memories, as well as increase emotional intensity. This results in a better receptiveness between the audience and a brand, which drives strong brand awareness.
Digital out-of-home (DOOH) is any digital advertising found outside the home, in a public environment. The classic example of a DOOH ad is an ad run on a billboard in Times Square.
But the reality is, you can run DOOH campaigns on a variety of formats and sizes, and in various public environments. And DOOH advertising is very versatile, which makes it ideal for cannabis marketing.
DOOH ads can be leveraged to cast a wide net that reaches a broad audience, which is perfect for brand awareness. Or, narrow down the audience with targeting tactics like with geotargeting and geofencing, to maximize your chance of a conversion.
6. Use Targeting Tactics to Reach Your Audience
Let’s explore some of the best targeting tactics that you can leverage for your cannabis marketing strategy.
Contextual advertising targets ads based on the environment in which the ad appears. This targeting method uses algorithms to target ad placements based on keywords, website content, and other metadata. This way, ads are shown to users based on the content they are consuming at that moment in time.
For cannabis marketing, this is a great strategy for reaching consumers who already buy cannabis products, or are curious about them. A consumer might go online to read articles about consumption practices for edibles. With contextual advertising, you can place ads for your cannabis brand on those pages, so they reach an audience that is in a receptive frame of mind.
Geotargeting is a tactic that enables you to deliver ads based on a user’s location. With geotargeting, you can target by country, state, province, county, city, or postal or zip code. You also have the option to leverage a list of addresses or latitude and longitude coordinates to reach your desired audience.
Geotargeting is a key strategy in cannabis marketing because regulations vary between states and provinces. With geotargeting, you can target and retarget consumers who pass through specific locations, while remaining compliant.
Get Started With Cannabis Marketing
Projections for the growth in the cannabis industry are looking bright. In the coming years, we will see more federal legalization emerge across the US, and we’ll start to see fewer restrictions in the industry.
With the cannabis industry becoming crowded, developing a unique brand with great messaging, which should include education, will help you to stand out.
As the industry evolves, we will also see development on the technical side. For example, over time, agencies will be able to lean more onto CRM lists for their cannabis marketing campaigns.
For now, these cannabis marketing tips will help you to cultivate winning campaigns that reach your ideal audience.
Request a demo to learn more about cannabis marketing with StackAdapt.