Cannabis use and feeling good have gone together for centuries.
So when a global pandemic helped make wellness products some of the fastest-growing consumer goods on a global scale, cannabis operators saw a golden business opportunity.
But marketing cannabis products to wellness-minded consumers isn’t as simple as wrapping the same old products in soothing colors.
And cannabis marketers seeking new consumers should be careful not to alienate legacy marijuana users who might find it off-putting when their favorite brands appear to give themselves mainstream makeovers to chase wellness dollars.
It’s a tricky balance – but one that can pay big dividends.
The health and wellness sector was estimated to be worth roughly $1.5 trillion last year and is projected to grow 5%-10% a year, according to global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. The company found that those wellness-minded shoppers are looking for products that are:
- Designed to improve their health and mental well-being.
- Tested and approved by social media influencers.
The sheer size of the wellness market shows why so many cannabis brands are hustling out ads and products that evoke spas more than rock concerts.
At the same time, cannabis brands must resist alienating longtime cannabis consumers who prize products that intoxicate.
To find out the best strategies for marketing to wellness-minded cannabis shoppers, MJBizDaily gathered insight from the experts at a recent Cannabis Marketing Association conference in Denver.
Here are four takeaways that marketers suggest when building branding campaigns for wellness-minded cannabis shoppers:
Start with CBD, and start on social
Cannabinoids that don’t intoxicate are the best products to draw in wellness-minded cannabis shoppers, who are more likely to be older consumers and women, said Antonio Gandara-Martinez, president and chief marketing officer for Budboard, a cannabis technology company in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“The CBD market is majority female,” he said. “For THC, whether it’s medical or recreational, it’s that 18- to 29-year-old group that skews more male.”
The demographic generally learns about nonintoxicating cannabis products on social media channels, said Anna Schwabe, director of research and development for 420 Organics in New Jersey.
“A lot of women and a lot of older folks are looking into CBD and they’re primarily reading about it on social media,” she said.
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But don’t rule out THC
CBD might be the “toe in” product for wellness-minded cannabis consumers.
But cannabis companies shouldn’t consider them unwilling to try THC products if those products are formulated with an eye toward new users, Gandara-Martinez said.
“CBD is big for destigmatizing cannabis,” he said.
“A few years ago, you were either selling THC or CBD. As of this year, it’s a 50-50 split, where people want both and people aren’t afraid to be THC buyers.”
Messaging is just as important as formulation for new THC shoppers, because they might not want to think of themselves as using cannabis recreationally, said Diane Downey, CEO of Rebel Spirit Cannabis Co. in Eugene, Oregon.
“It’s super important that we respect the way people self-identify and also know that that’s dynamic and changing,” she said.
“Let’s say someone smokes before they go out with friends, or to relieve anxiety so they can have a good time at a party. I would call that recreational.
“But I don’t want to tell somebody that their use isn’t medical.”
Demographics aren’t everything
Cannabis marketers have no shortage of tools to identify consumer personas and target marketing efforts based on ages and addresses.
But they’d do better to focus on the products that resonate with wellness-minded cannabis shoppers, such as products with few ingredients, said Raina Jackson, founder and CEO of Purple Raina Self Care, a San Francisco company that makes cannabinoid-infused topicals and beauty products.
“The people like products that do a lot of different things with less,” Jackson said.
“You can look at all the numbers of age and sex and things like that, but a lot of it is psychographic (personality traits) more than demographic.
“What are people looking for, and how can I bring it to them?”
Kristen Nichols can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.