The Green Rush materialized in ways that America’s forefathers would never imagine, but as exciting as it is for cannabis consumers, it’s becoming challenging for operators. That’s because the cannabis market is now saturated, especially in legal states. A flood of brands and retailers have set up shop while competing against the black market and each other.
There are a few simple ways to change that, though. Quality product is always vital, but as they say in the culinary world, you eat with your eyes first. People are automatically attracted to the visual aspect of anything they buy, and the packaging plays a massive role. Take Apple, for example. Their minimalist all-white aesthetic has made them the most identifiable tech leaders and gave the iPhone an edge among smartphones. That marketing strategy also applies to the world of cannabis.
When learning how to start a successful cannabis brand, you’ll have to target your market and ensure that all packaging and products adhere to compliance standards. But beyond that, there are a few tricks that you can use to help separate your brand from the pack. Since strict regulations surround promoting cannabis, advertising on the packaging is the only natural way to establish a name. Elizabeth Corbett, the vice president of Miami packaging solutions company AE Global, explained to MJBizDaily that having personalized packaging can boost sales. She said it’s quite common for people to be drawn toward a product from its packaging, emphasizing the need for quality branding and designs. Through her experience, she’s discovered the impact that minor changes in packaging can have on a business’s sales.
However, this might not apply everywhere. Some states require retailers to store cannabis behind closed doors until their sold. These strict rules practically minimize any point of marketing available for cannabis brands, but Corbett explained that this could be subject to change in the future. Corbett said that states like California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Michigan had established successful legal markets that have slowly destigmatized cannabis. The honesty surrounding the cannabis industry in these states allows the layout of a dispensary to “guide the eye.” Corbett added that another benefit of having excellently branded products on shelves is that it allows consumers to identify these same products at other retailers and dispensaries.
Overall, there are three significant points in packaging psychology that every cannabis business should be focusing on to gain that competitive edge. These are the use of environmentally-friendly packaging that promotes sustainability; eye-catching designs that capture the current trends; and using packaging that allows customers to view the contents before purchasing.
When looking into materials, it’s also worth noting what type of packaging is trending at the time. At one point, jars dominated the industry. Shortly after, there was a significant rise in mylar bags (which remain highly popular). Operators must pay keen attention to the evolution of “what’s hot” in the packaging world.
According to Corbett, the current trend that’s dominating the cannabis industry are bags with windows. Consumers want to get as close as possible to their products before making a purchase — observing the flower’s density, trichomes, and more. She said that’s especially the case in California and Michigan, where demands for cannabis are soaring. Some states have prohibited packaging with windows, so this trend isn’t necessarily nationwide yet.
Though some people would like to peep at what they’ll be smoking before making a purchase — in fact, that’s a significant portion of the cannabis demographic — others would prefer to keep their cannabis as fresh as possible until they’re ready to roll up. Take N2 Packaging Systems, for example. They developed a nitrogen-sealed can that preserves cannabis better than other cans. However, the cost of these cans would also inflate the price of the flower by $2 to $3. According to Brightfield Group, 67% of consumers would be willing to cough up that much for better packaging.
A package design is sometimes difficult to work around, mainly because there are compliant regulations to comply with, and cannabis marketing trends evolve rapidly. Ben Pechetti is the co-founder of Stricker Farmer in California, which focuses on designs for cannabis packaging. In his years of experience, he witnessed the drastic shift in aesthetics used by cannabis brands. Runtz, for example, was a turning point in California and the cannabis industry as a whole, Penchetti said.
The Runtz campaign already began bubbling among pot aficionados as a strain. However, the aesthetic for cannabis packaging was often subtle and discrete. Penchetti said that many businesses wanted a more professional look that aligned with medicine and nature. Runtz flipped the script on the status quo. Penchetti explained that Runtz used more colors, gradients, and rainbows in their marketing plans, allowing them to stand out. Though it may have seemed like a risk to go against what everyone else was doing, it certainly worked in Runtz’s favor. They already had a quality product to stand behind that earned co-signs from some of the most prolific smokers, but their packaging was what helped their customers identify their products across America.
But beyond the neat cannabis packaging ideas is a more significant concern that affects everyone on the planet — climate change. Consumers are attracted to environmentally aware brands that provide their products in eco-friendly packaging. It’s an issue that has drawn severe concerns in legal states and Canada. Though partly due to the restrictions from compliance regulations, there are many eco-friendly options for Mylar bags, jars, and other packaging requirements. Consumers want to purchase products from a socially responsible company.
A study by Indiana University’s assistant marketing professor Dionne A Nickerson on The Conversation detailed the relationship between corporate responsibility and higher sales. The study suggests that businesses attempting to offset corporate harm through social and environmental initiatives, including switching to eco-friendly packaging, see higher sales. Though Nickerson and her fellow scholars tracked down non-cannabis companies, they indicated that sales rose by a 1% average in the year after announcing their corrective actions. It isn’t far-fetched to see similar principles apply to the cannabis industry. Cannabis consumers want to know that the company they’re buying from uses ethical practices across the board.
Brightfield Group discovered that 21% of cannabis consumers opt for “eco-friendly products.” Corbett explained using sustainable packaging is now the standard across every sector. And while recycling programs for cannabis packaging have become complex to navigate, there are other ways to promote sustainability. Corbett explained that sourcing material domestically rather than internationally can help significantly reduce their carbon footprint since shipping is “the largest polluter in the world.” A cost-benefit comes with sourcing domestically since businesses are cutting extra costs from international companies, who’ve faced major setbacks in the past few years, such as the pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
By following these three key factors, cannabis packaging might create a sizeable uptick in cannabis sales for businesses. It’s not difficult to find eco-friendly custom branded cannabis packaging as it’s clearly in high demand. With eye-popping designs and more visual access to the product in sustainable packaging, your business can certainly get an edge in the competitive cannabis market.