Cannabis Branding: Smart Marketing or Too Much Waste?

Cannabis legalization appears almost certain to do more good than harm for the world. As an industry takes shape and drug war victims incrementally receive a modicum of restorative justice, we may sometimes overlook the adverse impacts along the way. Waste continues to be a primary concern. 

Legalization across the states leads to an influx in operators and often strict regulations around child-safe packaging. Making matters worse, cultivation from licensed and unlicensed farms can often create significant impacts on water, waste and the land. So much so that a 2021 Colorado State University study found that the state’s indoor and greenhouse grows produced more gas emissions than in-state coal mining.

The waste concerns aren’t exclusive to producers and retailers. Marketing materials contribute a smaller yet still troubling amount—be it copious amounts of fliers at dispensaries or promotional materials wrapped in layers of plastic or cardboard. 

High Times spoke with several cannabis marketing leaders to better understand the issue, its magnitude and why cannabis, a space aiming to revolutionize, often falls into such wasteful marketing practices. 

Marketing Materials A Concern, But Far From Cannabis’s Most Wasteful 

Most respondents believe that marketing and promotional waste isn’t the primary industry concern. However, most also felt it is an issue worth addressing now.

Brett Puffenbarger is one person fed up with superfluous marketing material. Puffenbarger, the director of sales and marketing for FOCUS – Foundation Of Cannabis Unified Standards, told High Times, “I’m really tired of getting handed 150 flyers every time I go to an event.” He added, “I’m even more tired of the 75 inserts I get in a bag,” when visiting a dispensary. 

Justin Johnson, founder and CEO of product platform BudsFeed, has worked in marketing and branding since 2004. Johnson, also the co-founder and CMO of Chill Steel Pipes, believes that only a handful of major companies invest in substantial promotions at this time. 

“While it is probably a large number overall, I think marketing and public relations waste is probably a small percentage of the industry’s overall waste concerns,” he stated. 

Johnson believes much of the marketing waste stems from company growth. He noted that brands need to establish regional managers for ordering promotional materials like bags, pens, stickers and other items.

“For that reason alone, you’re bound to see a lot of waste among MSOs who have individual budgets for different markets and aren’t necessarily ordering swag across the enterprise,” he said, adding that the concern is not unique to cannabis. 

Strict Regulations Lead to Industry Reaction

Lisa Buffo, founder and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association, said packaging is the primary concern. She cites strict regulations and single-use materials as leading sources of the problem. While waiting on rules to change, Buffo implores consumers, influencers and the media to give companies feedback about its marketing materials. 

“It’s okay to give brands feedback and let them know that you value less waste and would like the brand more if they acted accordingly,” said Buffo. 

New York City-based publicist Melissa Vitale said she hasn’t seen as much waste from cannabis as she has from beauty and wellness PR efforts. “I’ve seen juice companies send an entire cooler of juices to a journalist with a Brooklyn-sized apartment, and they were allergic to most of the juices,” she reported.

While the issue is a concern, she agrees that cannabis isn’t on the level of other major industries. “As much as we joke that PR is the devil, compared to other direct-to-consumer marketing initiatives, PR for cannabis isn’t at a scale large enough to make a massive dent in the industry’s waste concerns,” she stated.

Still, Vitale wants to cut down on waste. Her firm, MAVPR, recently launched PressBoxx, a quarterly box emailed to media professionals featuring her clients in cannabis and sex. 

“Rather than dedicating mailers to individual brands, we specialize in multi-client send-outs that minimize the amount of packages that individual press receive,” she explained. The PR head added that her brands are advised to include products people want to use and avoid branded products that are likely to be re-gifted or thrown away. 

How to Implement Eco-Conscious Marketing

Marketing leaders advise brands to think about the environmental impact of their marketing materials. At the same time, they have to consider if people will use the product rather than be concerned about its production cost. In some cases, that consideration may lead to digital efforts rather than physical materials. 

Johnson sees cannabis transforming into a consumer packaged goods (CPG) business. He added, “Getting your product in people’s hands through sampling and gift boxes has always been a best practice.” Rather than fighting what he sees as inevitable, Johnson said brands need to consider what they create and where it may eventually end up—the landfill. He recommends using compostable packaging. 

He also recommended avoiding branded items people will likely throw away. 

“When making something, brands should invest in an original design people will actually wear proudly and not just a branded piece of garbage,” Johnson elaborated. 

Puffenbarger offered a similar take. He recalled a cannabis brand offering free sunglasses at an outdoor summer event. “By the end of the day… I probably saw a hundred people wearing those sunglasses,” he recalled. He added that the wearable brand exposure almost made the company seem like a primary sponsor of the event. 

Kyle Rosner, director of media relations at cannabis agency 420Interactive, said his company advises brands to rely on emails, newsletters and other digital efforts. 

“Our number one recommendation to brands for effective eco-friendly marketing is to build their email lead list for targeted digital communications and PR,” he said. 

Rosner said iPads at demos set to specific company landing pages have increased signups. The company offers in-store discounts as additional signup enticements while also helping drive in-store sales for the dispensary. 

Despite acknowledging the issue, waste will likely continue to plague the cannabis space for some time. However, the consensus is that now is the time to act. “If you’re not thinking about the environmental impact of your marketing efforts, you’re probably not thinking about the impact of your product,” Buffo opined. 

The post Cannabis Branding: Smart Marketing or Too Much Waste? appeared first on High Times.

Episode 362 – The Mainstream March of Marijuana

Andrea Brooks and Natalie Fertig join host Heather Sullivan to talk about the recent moves towards more cannabis normalization by the NFL, Amazon, and Rolling Stone as well as the various routes states are taking to legalize marijuana. Produced by Shea Gunther.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, March 2, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Virginia Lawmakers Send Marijuana Legalization Bill To Governor’s Desk Just Hours Before Deadline (Marijuana Moment)

// Top Washington D.C. Lawmaker Files Competing Legal Marijuana Bill Days After Mayor Unveils Her Plan (Marijuana Moment)

// New Mexico Lawmakers Will Work To Unify Conflicting Marijuana Proposals This Week Following House Passage (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Agilent, a Fortune 500 company known for providing top-notch testing solutions to cannabis and hemp testing labs worldwide. Are you considering testing your cannabis in-house for potency? Agilent is giving away a FREE 1260 HPLC system for one year! If you are a Cultivator, processor, or cannabis testing lab you may qualify for this giveaway. Open up bitly.com/cannabis-contest to answer a few quick questions to enter to win!


// Seth Rogen just announced his own weed brand and people are losing their minds (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Marijuana MSO Cresco Labs files $1 billion shelf prospectus (Leafly)

// Michigan loosens eligibility demands for recreational cannabis licenses (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Cronos Group Losses Continue To Weigh On Company (Green Market Report)

// Ascend acquires most of MedMen’s NY cannabis operation for $63 million (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Novamind Reports Increase In Second Quarter Revenue (Green Market Report)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Chris/Flickr

Tuesday, December 15, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, December 15, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Marijuana firm Verano plans to go public at reported $2.9 billion valuation (Marijuana Business Daily)

// New Jersey Lawmakers Advance Revised Marijuana Sales Bill With Floor Votes Expected This Week (Marijuana Moment)

// Arizona Releases Draft Marijuana Regulations To Implement Legalization Vote (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Green Worx Consults, a company specializing in project management, workflow mapping and design, and Lean & 6 Sigma process. If you could use help making your business better at business, get in touch with Green Worx Consults.


// Colorado retail cannabis sales already eclipsing record-setting 2019 (Marijuana Business Daily)

// South Carolina Can Legalize Medical Marijuana In 2021 Republican Lawmakers Say (Marijuana Moment)

// Feds’ Post-Election Warning: Marijuana Still Banned For Federal Workers Despite State Legalization (Marijuana Moment)

// Hexo doubles down on cannabis beverages cuts loss to CA$4.2 million (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Executives No Longer Spooked by Pot Jobs: Cannabis Weekly (Financial Post)

// Marijuana MSO Cresco Labs doubles loan size to $200 million (Marijuana Business Daily)

// $66 will get you a hand-rolled joint from Jay-Z’s cannabis brand Monogram (GQ)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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What is Cannabis Industry White-Labeling?

Getting a cannabis license and building a brand in the industry can be incredibly complex and daunting – which has many producers utilizing a practice known as white labeling.

White labeling, or white-label branding, is a common practice in mainstream industries in which a company removes their own brand and logo from the end product and uses another company’s brand, usually a more established one with a wider client base. This is common with many well-known brands such as 365 brand from Whole Foods Market, Costco’s Kirkland brand, and Walmart’s Great Value products – all of which are manufactured by numerous other smaller companies.

Many agree that there are some very promising opportunities for cannabis-industry white-labeling because not many companies are doing it yet.

Daniel Yi, managing partner and chief strategy officer of Bellflower, California-based product maker Inanna Manufacturing, said opportunities for white-labeling in the cannabis space are great because few companies are doing it.

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“Many entrepreneurs have ideas for brands and would like to get into the cannabis industry, but they are unable to do so because they can’t get a license,” says Daniel Yi, managing partner and chief strategy officer of Bellflower, California-based product maker Inanna Manufacturing.

Yi himself got his start in the in the cannabis industry four years ago by white-labeling his products under the MedMen Enterprises brand, a company that (at the time) was a wildly successful multistate operator.

“There are a ton of people who are super good at cultivating cannabis efficiently,” Yi said. “Why spend a lot on that if you have a great retail concept? It’s more about segmenting into areas of expertise. Coca-Cola doesn’t bottle its own soda. The same thing will happen with cannabis.”

Inanna holds one of California’s Type 6 cannabis-manufacturing licenses, which allows his company to make infused products such as topicals, gummies and other baked goods. They do not grow cannabis or offer extraction services.

In California, Old Pal is a popular brand at dispensaries, with most consumers believing Old Pal is the actual company growing the flower. However, Old Pal is actually a popular white-label brand for many growers in the area.

Old Pal partners with about 100 legal cultivators, which has helped them avoid any licensing challenges faced by the growers themselves. Old Pal products can be found in about 350 cannabis stores but only operates one office with 29 employees.

This unique business model is perfect for anyone who is good at marketing and interested in working in the cannabis industry (and closely with products and retail shops), minus the hassle of keeping up with rigorous licensing practices.


RESOURCES:

Synthetic Cannabinoids (Are they synthetic cannabinoids safe?)
The Endocannabinoid System Explained (Why Cannabis Is Good for Our Bodies)
Everything You Need To Know About CBD Isolate (a deep look into hemp extracts)

Cannabinoids 101 – Spotlight on CBN (Cannabinol)
Your Complete Guide to EU GMP-Certified CBD Isolate and Distillate – Spotlight on the regulated EU market

Everything You Need To Know About CBG Isolate
Newest Cannabinoid Powerhouse – CBC – What Can It Do for You?
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
The Legal Landscape Of CBD Hemp Flower In Europe

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 THC)
Regulators Go After Smokable Hemp Flower – What Does The Future Hold?
The Complex Issue of Marijuana and Hemp Business and Legalization On Tribal Land
Government Assistance Options for U.S. Hemp Farmers Affected By COVID-19

The post What is Cannabis Industry White-Labeling? appeared first on CBD Testers.

Thursday, October 8, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Thursday, October 8, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Vermont Governor Allows Marijuana Sales Legalization Bill To Take Effect Without His Signature (Marijuana Moment)

// September was another record month for Illinois marijuana sales (WROK News Talk 1440)

// Once shut out, Maine cannabis industry now eligible for sustainable energy grants (Portland Press Herald)


These headlines are brought to you by Atlantic Farms, a Maine-based multistate cannabis business with operations in Maine and Massachusetts. Atlantic Farms is looking for people to help it grow and evolve as investors. Open up TheAtlanticFarms.com for more on the company and email info@theatlanticfarms.com to learn about investment opportunities.


// Illinois Governor To Pardon More People For Marijuana In The ‘Coming Months’ (Marijuana Moment)

// Marijuana firm iAnthus gets Canadian court approval for restructuring plan (Marijuana Business Daily)

// New TV Ads Urges Oregon Voters To Legalize Psilocybin Therapy (Marijuana Moment)

// Oklahoma’s Numerous Dispensaries Presents Distribution Challenges For Brands (Green Market Report)

// Arizona Loosens Restrictions On Past Marijuana Use By Police Recruits (Marijuana Moment)

// Asset sales, market growth might boost cannabis multistate operator finances (Marijuana Business Daily)

// MJBizCon 2020 Moves to Fully Online Event December 2-4, 2020 (Stock House)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Maayan Windmuller/Flickr

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, September 22, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Hemp Advocates Secure Major Win In New House Government Funding Measure (Marijuana Moment)

// Texas Ban On Smokable Hemp Lifted Until 2021 Judge Rules (Marijuana Moment)

// Scott says lawmakers have ‘come a long ways’ on retail pot bill (Valley News)


These headlines are brought to you by MJToday Media, publishers of this podcast as well as our weekly show Marijuana Today and the most-excellent Green Rush Podcast. And check out our new show Weed Wonks!


// New York Launches Process For Destroying Marijuana Conviction Records (Marijuana Moment)

// Cannabis Subscription Boxes Grow By 550% (Green Market Report)

// Canadian Cannabis Sales Accelerate in July to $232 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Study: Recreational Marijuana Could Bring Connecticut $100 Million Over 4 Years (WSHU Public Radio)

// Legal Marijuana Now Party turns in signatures for official recognition in Nebraska (Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News)

// Marijuana seller’s story of ‘badass’ Mexican sisters was a cultural misstep Latinas say (Herald Mail (AP))

// Millennials Prefer Smoking Their Cannabis (Green Market Report)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Mark Fuya/Flickr

Thursday, August 13, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Thursday, August 13, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Trulieve’s Revenue Keeps Climbing As Company Increases Guidance (Green Market Report)

// Green Thumb Industries Q2 Revenue Grows 17% Sequentially to $120 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Where Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris Stands On Marijuana (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Natural Order Supply, one of the nation’s premier cannabis cultivation supply companies dedicated to streamlining cultivation and helping industrial hemp farmers calculate their price-per-plant cost. They have everything from lights to harvest supplies to cultivation advice!


// Virginia’s potential $50 million medical cannabis program poised to launch (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Vape pens outdistance other ‘Cannabis 2.0’ products in Canada, data shows (Marijuana Business Daily)

// ‘It’s not cannabis’: Alta. farmer hopes to nip hemp stealing in the bud (CTV News)

// Fyllo Raises $10 Million To Expand Beyond Cannabis (Green Market Report)

// Oklahoma medical marijuana sales on pace to double 2019 numbers (Marijuana Business Daily)

// USDA Explains Why It’s Denying Hemp Farmers Access To Coronavirus Relief Benefits (Marijuana Moment)

// Controversial cannabis chain rebrands all stores in Canada after backlash over Hobo name (BlogTO)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Marketeering Group/Flickr

Friday, January 17, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, January 17, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// New Mexico Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed After Governor Puts Issue On 2020 Agenda (Marijuana Moment)

// Global Cannabis Sales Grow 48% to $15 Billion in 2019 (Valdosta Daily Times (AP))

// 40% of Arizona’s Hemp Crops Must Be Destroyed Due to Too Much THC (AZ Marijuana)


These headlines are brought to you by MJToday Media, publishers of this podcast as well as our weekly show Marijuana Today and the most-excellent Green Rush Podcast. And check out our new show Weed Wonks!


// Raimondo’s $10-billion budget plan includes state-run stores for recreational pot (Providence Journal)

// Ontario Cannabis Store sells out of edibles within hours (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Alaska pot board chair being chaired (Boston Globe)

// Marijuana deliver giant Eaze may go up in smoke (Tech Crunch)

// Congressman Backs Ballot Measure To Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms For Therapeutic Use (Marijuana Moment)

// Travelers Threw Away Over 37 Pounds of Weed at This Colorado Airport (Merry Jane)

// High Times To Open Dispensaries (Green Market Report)


Check out our other projects:
Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement.
Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: EMILY’s List/Flickr

Thursday, January 16, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Thursday, January 16, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Congressional Hearing Exposes Marijuana Research Limitations Imposed By Federal Law (Marijuana Moment)

// New California-based marijuana strains drew a line around the block in Baltimore. Could more be coming (Baltimore Sun)

// Lawmakers Consider Ending Residency Requirement for Marijuana Workers (Denver Westword)


These headlines are brought to you by Green Worx Consults, a company specializing in project management, workflow mapping and design, and Lean & 6 Sigma process. If you could use help making your business better at business, get in touch with Green Worx Consults.


// Michigan pot shops sold $10 million worth of marijuana in first 6 weeks of legal weed (Detroit Free Press)

// Colorado Finally Files Bill to Protect Weed-Smoking Employees (Merry Jane)

// With a new CEO High Times looks to open dispensaries (Digiday)

// Vermont Governor Seems Open To Legalizing Marijuana Sales (Marijuana Moment)

// New Mexico Governor Calls For Marijuana Legalization In 2020 (Forbes)

// Curaleaf Upsizes Loan Facility To $300 Million Makes Progress in Utah (Green Market Report)

// 16% of cannabis vaping illnesses tied to store purchases CDC says (Marijuana Business Daily)


Check out our other projects:
Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement.
Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Reizigerin/Flickr