By Christopher Hixson - Monroe Blvd and 421Store Principle Marketing Director.
Looking at The Cannabis Aesthetic: How Will Weed Design Evolve? In the article Joshua Belhumeur discusses the way the cannabis is marketed and promoted and how that will change to attract a broader range of consumers in the future. I read this article and while I agreed with a lot of the points the author made we dissent in a lot of ways, mostly in the way he confuses the cannabis subculture with the subversive stereotypes mainstream marijuana and our culture portray today. The stereotypes will always be there and will grow with backing from competing industries over time, but what the pundits against cannabis don’t see is the more realistic images of marijuana consumers that has existed side-by-side with those stereotypes.
The blue collar worker who smokes a bit of schwag to ease the burden of a long day. The call center operator who lights a joint with her coworkers as they discuss the tough calls they took earlier. These are the stories that will captivate mainstream audiences and reassure them that this plant isn’t just for those with dreads, It’s for all of us.
If you look at beer, another commodity which I enjoy imbibing from time to time, there is quite a range of different products. Craft beer is the fastest growing segment of this area. People, especially young professionals, enjoy the variety of products in this space and the different stories each brand has to tell. Ideally this is how the cannabis economy would develop, that has yet to be determined. But when you look at the big picture of beer you see while craft beer is going exponentially, it controls a modest 12.2% of the beer market. Will Marijuana be the same, should it be the same?
I dissent from the author on his point at the end of the article, I do not believe that class-marketed branding will work. We want to push the commonly held belief from smokers that this plant is a unifier. There’s a sharing that happens between smokers that’s wonderful, I wouldn’t want to change that to appeal to upper-class consumers. Marketing to the elite in my opinion would fall flat because marijuana isn’t a class-based commodity, or at least I’ve never experienced it as one. That sort of marketing would most likely cause you to lose consumers by alienating them from your brand. “Middle-class” and “Blue collar” campaigns work however because we are all exposed to this class in America in one capacity or another. There’s a common familiarity and admiration held by all of us for the working man, and I think there’s great potential for a campaign who plays to these ideals.
BRINK has some great ideas for marketing cannabis but I didn’t find them particularly well-versed in the social nuances of the cannabis subculture for these reasons, however I like their end-goal of creating a paradigm breaking brand. There are some stereotypes and messaging we need to work past, but it’s something I’d like to see us all do together. The culture we have built may be subversive, but it's also warm, welcoming, and jovial, and I wouldn’t want that to change.
Read the original article here.
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