Cannabis Packaging’s Missed Opportunity
We haven’t seen great cannabis packaging in this industry. Not to say the packaging we produce isn’t top tier quality - it is. However, whenever we walk into shops as a team, we can’t help feeling like the branding & marketing of this industry simply lacks imagination.
On the wall, there are 30 or so odd mylar bags, rows of product filled jars, and the lonely glass bottles of cannabis-infused soda delights. Yet, picking up any of these products lacks the sort of charm and excitement that cannabis products deserve. Upon close inspection, we find those same hallmark textures, die cuts, and information that we ourselves use in cannabis package production. This is all fine, of course, if your aim is to simply sell your product, keep compliant, and on brand. But we see an opportunity (and lost revenue) for the cannabis producers & processors of this industry that we can help them capitalize on.
Cannabis Packaging & Traditional Sales Promotion
Remember McDonald’s Monopoly marketing and sales promotion? It’s actually still around - and it’s not for no reason. Essentially, the customer receives their fries, sandwich, or drink and interact by pulling a small tab on the packaging - revealing a Monopoly space as well as the possibility of winning a range of prizes.
McDonald’s leveraged their brand relationships to facilitate giveaways, vouchers, holidays in addition to their smaller free food items (which still, by the way, is an excellent way to create the sense of success associated with the brand). In fact, it’s very likely that those companies also paid to be involved in the prize process - given the strength of McDonald’s brand.
In order to claim any of your spoils, McDonald’s created a small portal - in which you could opt-in to potentially win $2,500 by just giving up your email. Those who have been unsuccessful in winning simply redeem their ~ 10 losing pieces and are given a smaller prize (in the UK a 30-day subscription to Sky NowTV).
Of course, this sounds like we consumed a few too many MGs of edibles and went on a food-based tangent - but we suggest this is an effective sales and marketing tactic not yet seen in the cannabis industry.
The broader takeaway from this is the continued brand touchpoints, interaction, and experience with the packaging of cannabis consumer goods. Not only were incentives given for first-time purchases of the product (the chance to win prizes) - but in many cases, those prizes were offered by brands as a ploy for exposure. The system was baked perfectly into their brand - with clear and concise value propositions: You buy this, and if you don’t become a millionaire, you’ll at least get some other cool shit.
From there, the customer is guided (winning or not) to interact with your company digitally - and create another touchpoint with your brand. They redeem their prize, voucher, or giveaway - and give their email in order to have the chance at winning even more. Not only are we creating more positive experiences with your brand, a huge plus, but we are now collecting information for re-engaging your customers.
Re-engagement is huge here, and should not be overlooked. Together, with a killer email marketing campaign, you can glean greater insights into your core demographic and promote future sales and events to them directly. Paired with A/B testing of your emails, this becomes a powerful tool in your arsenal.
Even the unfortunate ones who fail to win after a number of purchases still get to redeem those positive associations with your cannabis brand. By offering a prize of consolation - your customers avoid feeling left out of the frenzy of winnings.
Traditional gamification of purchasing offers continued value to your consumer through your cannabis packaging. We would love to see cannabis brands creating more positive and long lasting experiences with consumers in this way.
Cannabis Packaging Going Digital
Cannabis packaging has been some of the least digitally integrated that we’ve seen in any industry. While Johnnie Walker Blue Label opens VR experiments, the cannabis industry has printed social media icons. Lame - and doubly lame for your consumers.
So far - we’ve seen only one digital integration in the cannabis industry, though not in packaging, but in an augmented reality (AR) experience with Goodship’s logo cross-platform. This was pulled off well by their development team - but we think overlooked the opportunity for real engagement; Missing social sharing is one of the larger and glaring issues we found with Goodship's application.
Integrating your cannabis packaging solution with digital “oomph” has really never been easier (or cheaper). That’s not to say a great integration of digital marketing and your cannabis’ packaging would be a cakewalk - but is about x10 cheaper than it would have been 5 years ago.
I’m going to toss out a few ideas that we’ve pitched internally, and some we’ve created working models for (in no particular order):
- Augmented reality cannabis strains (for opaque packaging)
- Augmented reality videos showing the growing process
- Augmented reality-based tertiary information about the strain
- QR / RFID codes to increase traffic towards marketing funnels
In any case, our (and your) intention is to create packaging which transcends the “to the trash” cycle and creates continuous rich brand experiences for your cannabis consumers. When well done, the digital interface to your cannabis packaging should even enthrall the budtenders to show off and otherwise suggest your product for their entertainment / educational value.
Until we see the industry strategically employ and improve digital touchpoints with their cannabis packaging - we and your consumers will be left severely wanting.
Give Cannabis Packaging a Second Life
In the age of electric cars, solar panels, and compostable utensils, sustainability has never been valued higher to consumers across all industries than it is today. Sustainable packaging is a premium opportunity to communicate to your customer that your brand represents responsibility, care, and awareness. However, the consumer's demand for sustainability has resulted in its oversaturation in the packaging market. Recently, we have begun to notice that trend finding its way into the cannabis industry in the states of Washington, Colorado, and Oregon. Although there is nothing wrong with the standard sustainable packaging, we feel that there is even one level deeper of sustainability that has yet to be explored by cannabis brands.
The average sustainable packaging allows the customer to easily recycle your product’s packaging, give it the opportunity to be made into something new, and establishes an emotional connection between your consumer and your brand. It’s an advantageous approach to your cannabis brand’s packaging solution, but the most sustainable packaging never even hits the recycling bin in the first place. We are talking about “second life” packaging design for your cannabis brand. Designing your brand’s packaging design with a premeditated second life in mind not only cuts down on any waste, you inherently leave a lasting brand element for your consumer. Rather than the singular emotional connection, however strong, a constant mental, physical, and emotional reminder of your brand is a far more impactful, permanent, and profitable solution.
Second life packaging design can cover a spectrum of possibilities. It can be as simple and cost-effective as putting your jar of flower in a tie-string cloth bag for which your consumer can store other (hopefully cannabis-related) goods. Or perhaps a more focused and innovative approach by having your cardboard packaging assist in a digital VR branded experience. Whatever the second life packaging solution chosen, the most important aspect is promoting the continued value of your product packaging to your consumer in order to build a more permanent connection. When that relationship is established and your consumer brings a second life to your cannabis product packaging, it will serve as a consistent reminder, a promo item for social media, and an opportunity for lifelong brand loyalty.