Businesses Advertise for Cannabis

How Do Businesses Advertise for Cannabis?

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Recent movements toward legalization and decriminalization of cannabis have transformed how people think and buy weed. What was previously illegal in every state in the US now represents one of the fastest growing sectors of the US economy.

A Growing Market

For instance, the US cannabis market is predicted to swell to $40 billion by 2030, or a compound annual growth rate of 14.2 per cent from 2023 to 2030. In any case, the ‘philosophy’ of such marketing towards consumers runs along these lines: experienced users are only the tip of a massive wave. The cannabis market is maturing; there’s everything from growers, dispensaries and delivery services to software platforms intended for the industry.

Industry Advertising Restrictions

Unfortunately, the marketing of cannabis has not kept apace with industry growth. And it’s understandable! The cannabis marketing environment is not exactly lenient, not with the regulatory and compliance standards from state and local governments.

In a newly legalized market, cannabis marketers also have to grapple with consumer perception. Tiny deviations, after all, could damage a businesses brand and the brand of the industry itself. It’s a difficult scenario to navigate. But it can be done.

Businesses have to have a game plan that overcomes the stigma and reaches the right consumers without violating federal laws and impediments. Cannabis brands embrace organic marketing techniques to build their audience including social media and SEO. Organic messaging is an important part of any marketing mix but paid media is equally vital.

Here are five tips that any cannabis brand can use for their paid advertising strategy.

Stay Up To Date On Local Cannabis Marketing Regulations

This one’s a bit of a doozy: Follow all of the advertising and marketing cannabis laws in the markets in which you would like to advertise. They vary by federal, state and city but a few rules of thumb seem to hold true.

Generally speaking:

  • Ads can’t imply that CBD or cannabis can treat or cure any health or medical condition. 
  • Ads must not contain elements that would appeal to children.
  • There should be no testimonials or endorsements of the products featured within the ads.
  • Media cannot show the consumption of any cannabis product(s).
  • There must be a “For Adult Use” label on any infused products.
  • Ads cannot make any false or misleading statements.
  • The ads cannot include any pricing, promotions, or potency statements.

Understand Which Marketing Channels Work Best For Cannabis

Just as marijuana marketing follows its own distinctive regulations as set at the state level, each marketing channel (and each publisher and vendor in that channel) has its own playbook for cannabis. In paid social, for instance, Twitter is the first social network to allow cannabis seeds online shop advertisements.

While airing cannabis ads on linear TV and radio is prohibited by the Federal Communications Commission, advertisers can run their ads on connected TV or digital audio. Advertisers can reach compliant audiences with their ads through either mainstream programmatic exchanges or cannabis-specific programmatic exchanges.

Focus On CBD, Not Traditional Cannabis

First referenced above as CBD, cannabidiol is the non-psychoactive part of cannabis. The lack of euphoric effects in marijuana means that there are fewer restrictions placed on advertising CBD by both federal and state law. If businesses run ads for those products, they’ll get the traffic to their site, but won’t have to worry about some of the requirements of cannabis advertising.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising can help them fill that gap. Virtually every type of publication – from niche, ‘stoner’ focused media such as High Times and Cannabis Culture to mainstream outlets such as ESPN and NPR and everything in between, has attracted brands who opt for the safety of running ads just in publications known for their target audience, without adequately reaching the totality of cannabis consumers. On the flip side, programmatic targeting can help local brands comply with local laws, then reach those cannabis consumers across the web.

Selling The Brand, Not The Product

When a business is a weed dispenser in a green rush with thousands of competing brands, and location has already filtered out a lot of competition, they have to self-filter by, well, trying to answer the question: ‘Why us?’

One strategy: Pilot test clean, brand-free copy focused on their businesses company’s culture or values, with no mention of cannabis or the company’s cannabis products.

Native advertising (advertising that looks like the rest of the content on a website, e.g. sponsored content) is a good means for this approach, and could be a way around local ordinances.

But companies that do advertise cannabis must be mindful of the list of caveats – federal, state and private – they will have to contend with, including the world’s biggest advertising networks.

Businesses and entrepreneurs certainly don’t need to despair: it should be possible to advertise cannabis product and to make money from it. With some ingenuity and imagination, brands can carve a place in the advertising landscape.

Also Read: Cannabis and Business



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