The Marketing of Marijuana

What excitement as we head into a new era in Canada with the pending legalization of marijuana. Surely I’m not alone in envisioning the billowy cloud of smoky serenity soon to be floating over us. I’m practically salivating at the thought of the much needed slower pace we’ll enjoy here in Canada. The broader, more thoughtful perspective on …. well …. whatever, eh?

But enough of the fantasy that will be the new Canada. Savvy marketers have already gotten down to business, planning and scheming, taking this situation far more seriously than the rest of us and wondering how best to market our latest and greatest product.

It’s one thing to appeal to seasoned users of the stuff, but now we have to get into the minds of a whole new demographic – a mainstream audience who could be trying it for the first time. And only because it’s legal.

So with that in mind, let’s look at the basics. There’s so much more to come, but to start, step one will be to shed the stoner image and brand marijuana as a reasonable, normal, even harmless recreational product. As many laughs as many of us have already had coming up with every play on word one could possibly imagine, an obvious choice will be to shed the slang and start calling it what it is – a plant named cannabis. There’s a lot to shed. The Online Slang Dictionary lists 120 slang terms for marijuana. And if you think I just suggested a great new party game – I did. How many can you come up with? If all you can name are ganja, weed, Mary Jane, and pot – you have work to do.

Step two in shedding the stoner image? Let’s peruse the casting couch and only select those models who reflect the polar opposite of our classic Canadian stoner. I’m sure we’ll be surrounded by ads of healthy, vibrant, energized, professional people enjoying life and all the healthy activities that go along with it. It’s not that much of a stretch to add some cannabis to the mix, right?

And since we’re focusing on healthy activity, much of it in the great outdoors, and since cannabis is a plant, I can already see the earthy colour palette. Ahhhh, the greens, the browns, the greys… serenity now.

Clearly, this is only the beginning. We haven’t even gotten the green light yet. But once the branding begins and cannabis quickly becomes as Canadian as maple syrup, the next step will be convincing the market your brand is better than the next. Discerning consumers want to know.