The cannabis business is exploding across North America. It’s a fantastic time to be in the industry, with limitless potential for growth and untapped markets waiting to be discovered. Valued at $10.4 billion in the US in 2018 alone, the cannabis industry is only set to expand. With all of this potential for growth and investment comes very stiff competition. For many burgeoning cannabis businesses, the focus is on providing a steady stream of quality product to a hungry consumer base, and establishing a foothold in the market. For many with quality product, the difference between building a viable and successful cannabis business and creating a company that goes nowhere will come down to marketing and product promotion.
One crucial aspect of marketing, especially in the cannabis space, is packaging. The potential for packaging to carry and reinforce your brand, brand narrative and grow brand awareness is unlimited. Think of your packaging as a mini, mobile billboard that travels everywhere your customer takes it. So, how do you make the most of your cannabis packaging?
Leverage Your Story for Big Brand Impact
We all know strong marketing and branding campaigns are essential for sales, especially in today’s highly visual world. The experience your consumers have when first encountering your product in-person can affect how they experience the product itself, whether they will seek it out again, and if they would recommend it to others. According to packaging industry research company Datamonitor, over 50% of shoppers’ purchasing decisions are made on the shelf. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important for packaging to make an impression.
Your brand essence and brand narrative will be decided as part of a broader marketing plan. But for packaging the challenge is to distill that overarching essence and narrative into a design that encapsulates your brand, and the feeling that you want to inspire in consumers. Successful branding distills your story, image, and personality into clean, consistent designs that speak directly to the right customers. Think about the image and the personality you want to convey. Are you fun and light-hearted, looking to cheer people up? Are you a professional and trusted brand, looking to provide medical care and comfort? The design of your packaging should visually support these aims.
Once your brand image is crystallized, it’s time to look at all the ways you can get your message in front of consumers. The actual product packaging you use is actually an excellent marketing and branding opportunity where you can do everything from showcasing your logo on boxes and containers, to customizing the unboxing process. Let’s take a look at some options for custom packaging your cannabis product.
Promote with Packaging
When considering how to best maximize the packaging you have, think about where it will most often be seen. If it’s a delivery box, for example, many people along the supply chain will have a chance to see it, as well as passersby at any stage of the supply chain. Perhaps a large logo or distinct design would make sense for this piece of packaging. If it’s a smaller package, purchased from in-store, will it be placed in a bag? What does the bag look like? If you already have a strong brand presence, does it remind people of your brand and strengthen awareness? If your brand presence has yet to be established, does the design of the bag or the design on it something that will catch people’s attention when they see someone carrying it on the street?
Think about seeing a package in your mailbox or on your front steps. If you glimpse it from a few feet away, will you immediately recognize the logo and branding? If so, you have a strong logo and informative design on your packaging. This is the goal of any product plan that is worth its salt. There are many options for creating impactful boxes and bags, from using custom stickers on the shipping packaging (whether boxes or mailing envelopes), matching branded packaging tape, or having boxes and bags printed in specific colors or designs.
Prepare for the Unboxing Experience
Next, you can capitalize on the unboxing process, when your consumer gets past the initial shipping packaging. Don’t underestimate the power of unboxing. People often take to social media to record their own unboxing experiences, sharing videos of the process and what the product looks like when it comes out of the box. The unboxing experience has the potential to be a differentiator for your brand, so make the most of it. In addition to quality packaging, consider including a surprise, like a branded freebie in the box such as a postcard with a discount code, a fun temporary tattoo, or a product sample of something new your company is introducing.
Don’t Forget the Product Package
After the customer has their unboxing experience, what they are left with is the product package. This is also what customers will first see on the shelf in your store, if you have a physical retail location. This is the ideal place to have both a strong logo, and necessary product information.Whether your product is packaged in plastic, wood boxes, cardboard or any other kind of material, using permanent stickers with your logo or brand name are an affordable, effective way to brand different varieties of product packaging material. Consider using clear vinyl stickers for glass bottles or other see-through packages.
You can list all pertinent information about the cannabis directly on a custom label — i.e., proper dosage, ingredients, and any potential side-effects of your product. Your label design is also an opportunity to make it immediately clear to the customers if their cannabis product inside is oral or topical. Some glass cannabis oil bottles will be too small to allow for proper labeling, so you can package them in a box that carries the proper branding (Again: stickers, branded packing tape, roll labels, etc). You can then put a label or a sticker on the box itself that also details all of the product information.
As with anything in business and in life, it’s all in the details. By paying attention to product packaging at every level and every stage of the product journey from you to your customer, you are taking advantage of an opportunity to make a lasting impact both your customers, and potential customers who encounter your packaging and your brand. This level of attention to the details can create a very positive experience for the consumer — which could be what gives your product an edge on the competition. And in the cannabis market, that edge could be what separates you from the rest.
Author Bio: Andrew Witkin, Founder & President
As the founder of StickerYou, Andrew believes in the enormous power of customization. With over a decade of StickerYou success, he is one of Canada’s leading experts in e-commerce, customization, startups, marketing and the tech economy.
He is a graduate of Dalhousie University and holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, York University. Witkin has previously served as VP North American Licensing for Nelvana/Corus Entertainment and Director of Marketing for MegaBrands/Mattel.