In an ideal world, we wouldn’t make judgments based solely on appearances. However, in case you haven’t noticed already, this planet is far from perfect. So, it’s no surprise that most humans have no qualms judging books by their covers. Indeed, people in the packaging design industry rely on this all-too-human trait. Keeping these tidbits in mind, it’s understandable why shareholders in the cannabis industry are becoming increasingly concerned about creating eye-catching packaging. Not only could powerful promotion strategies sell more products, but they could also significantly improve pot’s mainstream image.
As recreational marijuana becomes increasingly legal, customers will have a bewildering array of cannabis-related products to choose from. In this highly competitive environment, brands need to stand out from each other while also complying with different territories’ laws. As cannabis moves from being a package-less and brand-less product to a standard commodity, the field of cannabis marketing and branding will keep evolving. Let’s take a closer look at the challenges and innovations now taking place in the emerging field of cannabis branding.
No Cartoons in Cannabinoids – Restrictions In The Packaging Industry
While every state has different laws regarding what’s allowed on cannabis products, one major restriction forbids making designs that appeal to kids. Essentially, this means designers can’t use flashy colors or cartoon critters on their packaging. Products like gummie bears must also have clear labeling to ensure consumers don’t make an “accidental purchase.”
Not only do these childproof laws limit the imagination of product designers, but they also place certain demands on what materials could be used in manufacturing. For instance, to keep children from accidentally opening cannabis goodies, some states require companies to wrap their products in plastic that can only be opened with scissors and resealed with a ziplock top. Also, the cannabinoid count and recommended dosage must be clearly listed on these cannabis products.
Given all these ever-changing laws, it’s no wonder legal firms focusing on cannabis regulations are sprouting up all across North America. By helping companies understand the specific requirements in each marketplace, these firms will most likely play an indispensable role in the future of recreational pot branding.
Legitimizing Cannabis Branding With Stylish Designs
So, if bright colors and cartoon characters are out, what’s “in”? Well, one theme trending through the cannabis packaging industry right now is minimalism. Not only does the sleek minimalist design avoid many of the challenges posed by regulators, some analysts believe it lends credibility to cannabis as a mainstream product. Minimalist designers are also hoping to add a touch of elegance by using flourishes like gold leaf and embossed logos. These high-end details hint at the growing interest in attracting cannabis connoisseurs who might splurge on a higher-quality experience.
While minimalism might be the most popular option now being explored, there are also those who are interested in expressing cannabis’s unique identity. Keep in mind that most people in the past who were were able to get their hands on cannabis did so without seeing a logo. Cannabis has had quite a different perception than, say, tobacco, which means it’s relatively new ground for designers.
There are some in the cannabis industry that wants to use the “underground allure” of cannabis to their advantage. This is most evident with companies that feature bohemian or hippie imagery. Others are attempting to exploit cannabis’s prominent place in the music industry with rustic-themed Willie Nelson tins or elegant boxes made with Snoop Dogg.
In both of these cases, however, design companies are primarily concerned with using their work to increase cannabis legitimacy. Designers want to inspire consumer confidence, especially with the millions of potential new cannabis users who might have doubts about this drug.
Remember that roughly 155 million American adults have yet to try marijuana, and about 47 percent of Americans oppose pot legalization. Recent books by medical marijuana critics like Alex Berenson are also challenging the non-cannabis smoking public’s opinion. If marijuana doesn’t look professional, then people on the fence will be even less likely to try it for the first time.
Environmental Challenges And One Proposed Solution
Another prominent issue on people’s minds is the environmental cost of all this new cannabis packaging. Unfortunately, many of the petroleum-based plastics used to make cannabis containers and bags take thousands of years to completely degrade. Indeed, market analysts project these products could have devastating effects on the environment as the recreational cannabis market expands.
Interestingly, one potential solution to the sustainability problem is staring cannabis producers right in the face: hemp! Although it’s known today for its high CBD content, hemp has traditionally been valued for its many industrial uses. One of its many potential applications is to make sustainable bioplastics. Eco-conscious manufacturers prefer hemp plastics over petroleum-based plastics because they only take about 6 months to completely degrade.
Since hemp cultivation wasn’t legalized in the USA till 2018, some manufacturers simply aren’t aware of hemp’s many potential uses. Advocates hope increasing education will encourage more people in the cannabis industry to rely on this sustainable form of plastic.
In addition to education, business leaders say hemp prices must fall to a more manageable level for demand to increase. Currently, the driving forces behind petroleum-based plastic include its inexpensive price tag and its abundance. As more farmers increase the supply of hemp, analysts hope this crop will become king in the plastics department.
Cannabis Branding: Re-Defining Pot Culture
Like it or not, digital marketing, ads and logos will play a significant role in the public’s perception of cannabis. Cannabis companies must use their product imagery to appeal to various niches within the market (e.g., new users or cultivated connoisseurs) and lend credibility to this once illicit and still unfairly stigmatized substance. As the demand for cannabis increases, companies will also be forced to confront the environmental consequences of their decisions and put serious consideration into their packaging to be competitive.