Cannabis: From Breaking Bad to breakout brands
“Cannabis users used to have a lot of knowledge but not much choice. Legalisation has completely flipped that dynamic.”
As we write this blog, 23 US states have legalised recreational cannabis. By the time you read it, that number will probably be even higher.
It’s a highly unusual situation to just create a marketplace from nowhere. You had a product with a relatively small, largely knowledgeable customer base. But today, the customer base is enormous.
“These new cannabis customers have little knowledge and a lot of choice. The category has quickly become overwhelming for them”, Chris explains.
Leaving cannabis cliches behind
Cannabis is gaining new customers from young to old, and its use is becoming normalised as both recreation and a medical solution. The audience base is broad, with particular appeal among Gen Z and middle-aged women.
Yet many cannabis brands have fallen back on cliche – in effect, trying to import existing cannabis culture into the mainstream. Marijuana leaves were abundant – not least in the high-profile Leafs by Snoop Dogg.
To an extent, the category has evolved since, but as yet there’s no ‘Coca-Cola’ of cannabis. The sector's young, and the differing laws between states make it hard for one brand to dominate the market as traditional household names might.
But as with any branding project – originality, authenticity, and clarity are key to winning favour.
Shopping cannabis today
So many brands are trying to break the rules, to position themselves in the ‘cool space’ of cannabis culture. But this makes customers feel like they have to be in-the-know to shop.
“Our work with Breez took a different approach,” says Chris. “It wasn’t just style without substance, it’s functional. It clearly communicates what the product is and what its effects are. Forget clichés, it’s just an easy brand to shop.”
Chris thinks this is exactly the way cannabis brands should be presenting themselves: “When we created the brands for CQ and Goldmine, our aim was to make them much more accessible.”
“It’s clear what they are, but the design is more like what you would find with candy or juice. They’re not scary to look at. They’re for anyone.”
“The cannabis customer base in the US is only going to grow. And more products equals more complication for everyone. Brands that can make cannabis seem accessible and easy to understand will be the best placed to take advantage.”