Marijuana is now the nation’s fastest-growing industry, so it's no surprise that a design and branding agency wants to take a bite of the cannabis infused pie. As of this year, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana and four states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. I sat down with Jenn as she ate a white cheddar rice cake which crumbled all over her desk.
"The rice cake?"
"The Cannabis Cup?"
"It was fascinating. There were the stereotypical things you’d expect, and some craziness, but then there were surprising things too. The Cup was extremely diverse and represented so many different types of people. It was really interesting to see this huge melting pot of cannabis connoisseurs and entrepreneurs!
There were definitely the stereotypes. You had the “older hippies” who manned the activist tents, the “young hippies” who wore baja hoodies and twirled hoola hoops, the “20-something tech nerds” who love to smoke while programing video games, the O.G. (that’s original gangster, allegedly), the entrepreneurs who are targeting the industry with services like “head hunters”, accounting and security. Even suburban parents who are advocating for their right to treat their children’s illnesses with cannabis. With all these diverse groups, I can see how important niche marketing will be moving forward.
Sure, you’ll always have the Cheech and Chong (I actually heard Chong was there, although I didn’t see him) of Cannabis Cup, but you also have people trying to change the image and perception of marijuana users. Products are starting to cater to more gourmet connoisseurs. Edibles are a great example. You can buy anything from brownies and cookies to mixed nuts and granola. Even BBQ sauce! These are perfect for those who consume marijuana for medical reasons or prefer not to smoke. And, I saw a big push towards healthy infused food options. There was one company, that made infused ice-pops, but they saw a desire for healthier products. Now they now offer a dairy-free “ice cream” pop, chock-full of probiotics.
It took me a second to get used to talking to owners of the companies. I would assume the oldest person behind the booth was the owner or creator, but more than once that was the owner’s father helping out with (and maybe funding) his kid’s idea. Young adults are definitely seeing the opportunity in the marijuana industry. Additionally, I was amazed by the the quantity of products and start up companies. Everything from industrial growing equipment and cleaning products to concentrates, vaporizers and edibles.
Some companies are definitely spending resources on design, but many were really early in their process. The market is getting so crowded right now. Branding and design is going to be a major differentiator in a company’s success. As I mentioned earlier, there isn’t a big understanding yet of niche marketing. You ask someone who their target audience is and they say “everyone,” but is that really true? Probably not. There is one company I saw that looked like they were starting to appeal to women which I think is great, but their website didn’t match their brand. It makes me confused on who they are and what they stand for as a brand."
"How was Snoop Dogg?"
"Awesome. He played a lot of his 90s hits and covered a few other classics. My favorite part though was watching his sign language interpreter."