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Marketing Premium Products Amidst a Pandemic: A CMA Webinar Brief

By Vyla Carter

Marketing premium cannabis products can look a bit different than traditional cannabis marketing. During a pandemic, it can look even more different.

Cynthia Salarizadeh, the Founder and President of House of Saka; Sam Arellano, the Chief Marketing Officer of Canndescent; and Andreas Neumann, the Chief Creative Director of Jushi Holdings Inc. came together in a CMA webinar moderated by Rosie Mattio of Mattio Communications to discuss what marketing premium cannabis products during the coronavirus pandemic looks like.

What Makes Premium Cannabis Different Than Other Consumer Packed Goods (CPG) Products?

Mattio started the webinar by asking the panelists how premium cannabis is different than other CPG products and other cannabis products.

The panel agreed that emotion is what sets these luxury products apart. Neumann added on to this by saying that if you have the same product as other companies, you must add emotion in marketing to add value to it. This goes for all luxury brands but is also applied when marketing premium cannabis products.

To add emotion, marketers should utilize cannabis storytelling, according to Arellano. Storytelling allows emotion to show through, letting your target audience build trust with your brand.

How Has the Premium Cannabis Market Changed Over the Past Five Years?

The premium cannabis market had greatly evolved since it first emerged. The different markets within this cannabis space have changed at a different pace and in different ways.

Salarizadeh, whose company focuses on cannabis-infused drinks, believes that the cannabis-infused beverage market has seen some of the biggest changes. According to her, these types of beverages used to be very unappetizing and even unhealthy. Over the years she has seen an advancement in the technology used to manufacture these drinks, making them more satisfying to the pallet. She believes that as we continue to evolve technologically, the cannabis experience will become better.

Neumann says he has seen an increase in sophistication in the premium cannabis market but believes more is coming. With this, he said that packaging is starting to catch up to higher standards as well.

Neumann also went on to say that many companies are starting to look into the sophistication of flower and taking it to another level by educating consumers about it. He looks closely at the growers and what happens in the grow facility and focuses on translating that to the consumer.

Lastly, Arellano added that flower brands in California have doubled over the past few years. He believes that because of this, the premium cannabis market will see more and more people that are coming from traditional CPG brands and bring their assets to the cannabis industry.

This will then bring greater efforts around cannabis branding and cohesion state-wide and around the country. “We will see a level skill set that is equal to any other vertical,” Arellano said.

How Have you Shifted your Business Strategies or Brand Messaging During this Time?

The biggest change during this pandemic, according to the panelists, is how consumers now utilize technology. According to Neumann, people are starting to use their technology more, specifically to order their cannabis online

Neumann has tried to make this online ordering simple for customers. He says that when using these platforms, a company should make the experience as frictionless as possible for the customer. This means great online and over-the-phone customer service while also getting them in and out of the store as quickly as possible.

When the pandemic hit, Salarizadeh immediately shifted ninety percent of her focus onto delivery platforms. This has benefited her company and grown her consumer base. Along with this, she started to focus on and prioritize social media marketing. The other panelists in the webinar also agreed that they shifted much of their focus to digital cannabis marketing.

Become a CMA Member for Access to the Rest of the Webinar

The panel went on to answer the questions, “How is customer segmentation different in the luxury cannabis space?” and “how has the ongoing pandemic influenced the command for the premium cannabis market?” and more.

The webinar concluded with a live question and answer session. During this, they discussed how to educate customers and whether to prioritize gaining new customers or keeping the ones you currently have.

To learn more about marketing premium cannabis products during the COVID-19 pandemic, watch the full webinar by becoming a CMA member.

Already a member? Log in to the member portal.

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