To break through the competition, promote social media sharing, make a statement, and more, brands should apply traditional best practices in packaging design to cannabis marketing.
As the legalization of marijuana starts spreading across the world, a new wave of disruptive products is springing up. Many of the old laws still apply in this new world, especially when it comes to packaging cannabis. That’s why, even in the wild new world of cannabis products, it’s worth considering how the tried-and-true rules of good packaging and brand design may still be relevant.
Below are the seven best methods of pot body design.
1. Identify the “Natural Habitat” and seek for amazing shelf effect.
It is one of the most simple packaging guidelines. If you don’t stand out on the shelf, you’re dead in the water.
All of the senses must be stimulated. It has to be appealing not only to the eye but also to the touch, and it must not irritate the consumer with an irritating sound (remember Sun Chips’ compostable bag, which had customers exclaiming, “It’s noisy as hell!”)? I tell my designers that they only have one job: get the customer to pick up the package because 85 percent of those purchase the product. The case is now closed.
To make stunning packaging, you must first research the product’s “Natural Habitat.” The same can be said about cannabis brands. Currently, cannabis products containing THC [tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound responsible for most of the drug’s psychological impact] can be found in various closets, counters, and displays at the drug store.
So what will happen if marijuana is legalized on a national level? Will products are like that can be seen and useable as bottles on your local wine shop’s rack? Whatever happens, you can be sure that a tried-and-true rule of thumb will apply: your labeling and packaging must be distinct to cut through the visual and tactile clutter created by its many competitors.
One of my favorite examples of shelf impact is Koffee Kult. You’re encouraged to “Be one of us” by the packaging and messaging. Who can say no? This brand perfectly captures the craft coffee drinker’s connoisseur mindset. One can only imagine how appealing an exclusive club atmosphere like this would be to a cannabis enthusiast.
2. Text, color, and shape
The frameworks of good package design are these three key concerns (in that order). Remember that how something feels in your hand has a big influence on whether or not you buy it. As a result, the shape must fulfill the product’s promise. The most famous example is the Coca-Cola bottle.
The color must then convey the brand’s personality, and the text must give it a voice. The square peacock blue box is recognizable, and its message is clear. “You are worthy of this life-changing gift,” says the poetry on this small box. On a retail shelf, the Tiffany box does not compete. But if it did, the structure, coloring, and simple logo would guarantee that it would be a best seller.
Marijuana is another off-the-shelf product. A dispensary’s sales channel is through the budtender. However, some brands have already established their presence through sharply targeted package design. One excellent example is Kiva. The combination of the kraft substrate and the marijuana leaf image creates a warm, earth tone aura that aligns with the product’s overall eco-friendly nature, making the package highly touchable. The design, like the Tiffany box, has an unmistakable signature.
3. Connect by utilizing communications technology.
The basic rule for packaging design is to connect emotionally with the consumer by incorporating their location. Due to digital technology, this concept takes on a whole new meaning known as the linked package. Simply pointing a mobile phone at a package will open online channels with everything from “how-to” videos, recipes, offers, club memberships, and luxury goods authenticity verification—the possibilities are endless.
When it comes to cannabis, users can learn about the plant’s origins, where it was grown, dosages, safety precautions, state laws, and even brownie recipes.
As well, thanks to photo-based social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, your packaging can instantly connect with millions of people. Make sure your design works well on these eye-catching platforms. It’s important to remember that it’s not just about running ads.
4. Being green is easier in terms of sending messages and responsibility.
Nowadays, marketing and selling to younger consumers are nearly impossible unless your brand can make reliable statements about sustainability and social responsibility. It includes reusable, recycled, recyclable, or recycle-ready packaging, sustainable farming techniques, organic and natural ingredients, and an overall clean ingredient list. Packaging is the clearest example of this. It is something that the cannabis industry is already aware of.
The packaging tells stories about the brand’s support for environmentally friendly practices and people serving long prison sentences for marijuana use.
5. Identify the consumer’s familial signals.
It usually involves being cautious about the channels you use and the messages you send. Because of their cynicism, irony may appeal to Gen Xers. On the other hand, Millennials value authenticity, which is why they are gravitating toward craft brands rather than mass-produced goods.
Regarding customer service for legal cannabis, 62 percent of Americans are in favor, but when the Millennial demographic is excluded, that number jumps to 74 percent. When it comes to Gen-Z, they’ll be living in a world where weed is as common as social media.
6. Be yourself in terms of authenticity and brand voice.
You have the freedom to create your own identity as an independent. However, if your brand has a personality, it must be connected with your cannabis selections.
Assume how phony Budweiser would look if they suddenly adopted a “groovy psychedelic” look to market a line of cannabis products! Established iconic brands, such as Budweiser, must stay true to “who they are” and “who their consumers are” while building on their history. The American-themed bottle cans are a great example of this strategy in action.
Combining a potentially revolutionary product with legacy brand traditions could lead to entirely new ways of thinking about the cannabis experience.
However, be genuine!
7. Don’t overlook marijuana as a niche product—consumer behavior is still a factor.
Recreational marijuana (TCH or Cannabidiol) is a tightly controlled product that the government regulates. When you consider all of the products that contain cannabis, it almost covers every major product category.
Stimulants (buds/vape oil) are followed by edibles, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, confections and snacks, and even pain relief creams and oils.
In reality, it’s just another ingredient layer, so when communicating the THC, each iteration requires its own TLC.
Sensory testing should be a part of the advertising strategy for edibles. Are a baked good’s flavor profile and textures, such as a brownie, comparable to non-cannabis brands, or does it disappoint? It must be visually appealing, contain flavor cues, and make wholesome/clean ingredients. CBD and THC aren’t the only factors to consider.
As more established brands enter the cannabis market, the battle for customer loyalty will intensify. Make sure you finish your homework. You might discover that the tried is more accurate than you think.