Party Like a Marketer Podcast
Episode 51: State of Cannabis Marketing: Holiday Marketing
Lisa Buffo, Founder & CEO of Cannabis Marketing Association sat down to present on the state of cannabis marketing for 2024, focusing on the holiday season. In this session, she explores the latest trends, strategies, and best practices for effective holiday marketing in the cannabis industry.
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Read the Transcript
Lisa Buffo 00:12
Welcome, everybody to today’s episode of Party like a marketer, the podcast dedicated to cannabis marketing, public relations and authentic storytelling. I’m your host, Lisa buffo, the founder and CEO of cannabis Marketing Association. So today’s episode is a little bit different. Every year, at the end of the year, I do a state of cannabis marketing for our membership webinar. It’s usually about an hour long, and we talk about what happened over the last year and where we see marketing going for the year ahead. But this year, we’re actually breaking it up into three distinct webinars, each with a specific topic feature. So the first one we do, we’re sharing with you today. So this one is the state of cannabis marketing. And we’re talking about the holidays. And this format is a little bit different. We talk about, again, what we see happened in the past. Also what’s important for marketers moving forward, and then we close the episode with some tips for your holiday marketing. So it’s part reporting and part education. It’s a shorter episode. So this webinar was only about 20 minutes, and it is member exclusive. And we’ve got two more. So if you liked today’s episode, we encourage you to join CMA, we will have the deck that is referenced for you in our online member portal for our members. And I want to let you know about our upcoming events for the rest of the year. So the second one in the series is December 5. And that will be state of cannabis marketing in 2020, for legal considerations for the new year. So we’re actually going to have a lawyer jump on and talk about what he sees happening. And then on Tuesday, sorry, Thursday the 14th, we’re going to be talking about the state of cannabis marketing 2020 for the new ROI. So we’re going to be talking about emerging metrics that are going to be important for businesses. And that will be our three part series. Lastly, on December 12, we are doing a meet the cannabis press webinar with mg magazine Benzinga, Forbes, cannabis and tech today, marijuana venture and cannabis business times where we’re going to hear from journalists and editors who we’re going to talk with a membership about how they like to be pitch, how to get your products and services covered, and best practices when communicating with the media. So if you’re a member, thank you so much for listening. If you’re not, we encourage you to join and check out all of our resources. And through the end of the year, we are running a promotion where if you upgrade to an annual business membership or join at the annual business membership level, not only do you get access for up to seven people from your team to all of CMAs member benefits, but we’re also including 10 hours of future of cannabis marketing videos that have insights about where the future of this industry and particularly this profession is headed. We’re also including a media spotlight for your company across all of our channels. So blog, social email, as well. And then lastly, we’re offering two hours of free complimentary consulting from our leadership team. So that includes myself, and we’ll help you out with whatever projects you’ve got going on from a strategy perspective as well. So thank you so much. And let’s get started with the state of cannabis marketing. Holiday shopping. Hello, everybody. Let’s get into it. Okay. Oops, where is it? Okay. Okay, cool. I think you guys can see my screen if you can’t, Emily just shout. But we’re gonna jump right into this. So for those of you who have been members for a few years, we do this every holiday season. In the past, I’ve done just like a one time webinar state of cannabis marketing. That’s a look back on the year we just had as well as you know, kind of some perspective about what the year coming up is going to be. This year, we wanted to do something a little bit different. So we’re breaking it up into three. So this is a three part series where we are going to be talking about some marketing strategies, but I wanted to try a new style with you. And we’re going to do some reporting here. So bear with me with it, but but we got a new style state of cannabis marketing holiday episode today. Okay, so, talk a little bit about CMA what we’ve got going on. And then the three big topics I want to cover today are some hot partnerships in the marketing world. We’ll talk about AI a little bit. Obviously, that’s been a topic of the year and then we’ll go into those holiday marketing strategies. And then at the end, I’ve been getting more emails from you all about wanting to connect with each other. So we’re We’re gonna have some time specifically where if you have like an end of year request, maybe you’re looking for a partner in this realm, a service provider in that realm, a coffee you want to have at Blizzcon, you can throw that in the chat then and see if we can, we can connect you all on kind of a more specific level today, and make the space where we can to do that. So jumping into it. So we talked a lot about storytelling at CMA. And I recognize sometimes I could do a better job of doing that myself. So I wanted to remind you, our members of our mission, so this is why this community exists. And it is to bring a positive perception to an authentic understanding of cannabis and its consumers around the world. So we, of course, are interested in storytelling and recognize that we as a community are telling the story of our industry, the story of cannabis and our products. And you know, the story of the end of prohibition as a collective with all of our work. And we want to see that held to really high standards, and done as best as we can. So this community is to hold space for that. And we provide you with opportunities for professional growth by providing education through events like this and our summit in June, and all the webinars and content we do throughout the year, cultivating community through networking and establishing best practices. Further, we think all brands, businesses and communities should have a detailed set of core values. This is on our website, but ours are authenticity, inclusivity and sustainable growth. This allows us as an organization to align our project strategically to make sure we’re building and hiring and having a great internal company culture, but also this is what we want to see reflected within our members. So we want to see you just take a look at this. If you haven’t, this is on our website, but these are the core values of CMA. Okay, we’ve got six weeks left in the year, we’ve got a bunch of upcoming events, obviously today, at this con, we’re no longer competing with a million happy hours. So we’re doing brunch on Thursday, at bagel mania, it’s right outside the convention center. So stop there and on your way to the show, we’re gonna have the most as juice fruit platters lot cuz sandwiches 12 pictures of Mimosa is like we’re doing brunch. So come to that, you can register always on the website. Part two of this is going to have a focus on legal considerations. And part three will be on ROI and what that means. And then we’re doing a version of one of the panels we did that was a big hit at our cannabis marketing summit in June, about meeting the cannabis press. So you’ll hear hear directly from cannabis journalists. And we’re going to talk a bit about how to get your, your brand and company covered with mg magazine Benzinga, Forbes, cannabis and tech today marijuana venture Cannabis Business Times pretty, pretty stacked lineup there. So be sure to sign up for that. And then something we’re working on in the background is a partnership. One of our partners in Canada does a virtual conference in December. So we will send you some information on how to get involved with that that will be free and open to you all as well. Okay, lastly, if you’re a business or an individual member, we are running a promotion this fall that if you upgrade to our annual business membership, you can pick between two kind of value adds. One is a few hours of consulting, we get asked a lot in our Member calls about pretty specific and detailed marketing kind of strategy things that is a bit out of scope as far as what we do in the community here. So we’re adding that on as a service. We’ve already worked with a few folks as far as their strategies, their plans they got through 2024. I’m a former CMO, we’re we’re we’re all marketers here. And we know a lot based on what we’ve seen being in this community. So that is one option. The other is the collective of all of our Ted style talks that we’ve done in 2023 and 2022. There’s 10 of them that are about half hours each on the future of cannabis marketing. So you’ll you can watch all of those as a collective look at what was predicted what played out what didn’t and what is still playing out. So you can pick between those two. If you’re interested in upgrading, let us know and we’ll we’ll get it done. Okay, first part of this new series, I want to talk about current marketing news. So as an industry, I think 2024 is going to be actually a really big year for us. It is likely that rescheduling is going to happen next year, which I’ll not going to talk about today. But that’s another conversation. Which means that again, it is really important for us it’s always been important for us to pay attention to what is happening in the mainstream marketing world. As a startup founder myself I always like to look at what bigger companies are doing that have resources budget, you know, millions of dollars, because their actions are probably informed by, you know, some like informed strategy that they could pay for data they can access that we as startups don’t have. So, and again, as you know, cannabis as a CPG product as a commodity in that sense, we need to pay attention to that. So let’s talk about some marketing news. Nike, obviously, you know, their major brand as far as like the definition of brand and a business for what they do, but they have shaken up their leadership, old CMO is out new CMO is in a few important things in relation to this. Their their President said on their last earnings call and in the release for this news, which happened, I think it was yesterday. But this week, that innovation, design and storytelling have always been the heart and soul of Nike. These leadership changes enable us to obsess further our unparalleled innovation, product design and storytelling, again, to reimagine sport for the next generation of athletes. Their old cmo had been with the company only about five years since 2018. The new one was with the company for two decades left to start her own agency and they’re bringing her back. But I wanted to note from the news around this that the old CEO CIO quote from this article, the old cmo was at Nikes marketing home for some of its most impactful and controversial output in recent years, including a JUST DO IT campaign with activist and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The marketer also contended with internal turmoil, including reported pushback from black employees over a lack of diversity. The issue flared up following a release of a 2020 ad featuring Kaepernick, Serena Williams and LeBron James, that arrived following mass protests for racial justice across the US and quote, so again, as head marketers, you are responsible for external storytelling, also the internal storytelling, and if there’s any misalignment in values and actions, regardless of that’s kind of a marketing specific problem, the storyteller is going to be the one who will pay the price for it. So it is important to understand this and partly why I brought up core values in the beginning is that is a essential part of keeping your business healthy. Along the same veins, literally last night, um, Bud Light ousted their their CMO, so of course, alcohol, we want to pay attention to what they’re doing, highly analogous to cannabis. And in this press release, Anheuser Busch’s cmo was stepping down after the company reported a slump in Bud Light sales. He will be quote resigning at the end of the year in order to embark on a new chapter in his career, which is probably PR speak for who was he they asked him to leave. The world’s biggest Brewer reported a 13.5% decline and third quarter us revenue per 100 liters, which is a key KPI of beer sales. And again, the brand’s Bud Light customers abandon the beer after it partnered with transgender influencer, Dylan Mulvaney and botched its response to the controversy. So again, as the chief storyteller, what we’re seeing with these big brands, there’s cultural changes happening, we need to pay attention to them, the way they’re being incorporated in marketing, it needs to be consistent and thought of and addressed as far as how it’s aligned with the company’s values. And there’s a whole lot more to go down that rabbit hole. But the point I wanted to make is that marketers are responsible for this and ultimately pay the price if things do or don’t work. Okay, switching gears, I wanted to talk about some big national partnerships. So part we know about all the things we can’t do in cannabis marketing, right. And we talked about this all the time. But one of the things we can do is partnerships. And there’s a tendency in cannabis to do probably what I would call obvious partnerships, right, like brands and retailers, great partnership brands and consumption dividing devices, obvious partnership. But let’s see, let’s see what the mainstream marketing is doing. So reporting from National Restaurant news, this is McDonald’s and crocs. This collab is the latest global marketing campaign for the restaurant chain aimed at driving quote, connectivity and efficiency worldwide. Not a sentence I would have expected from this brand you know, in the in the past, the connectivity and efficiency worldwide that is the messaging they’ve said it multiple times in in this news release. The collab includes a full line of shoes, socks and jibbitz charms and is available in multiple countries. and select retail locations retail locations in crocs.com. This line includes a classic clog, and limited edition clogs, inspired by inspired by McDonald’s characters grimace, Birdie and Hamburglar. Which I’m guessing hamburgers, this like black one in the middle. Just kind of funny. This will drop on social media when these crocs go on sale. The collection is available with charms for $75 a pair, while socks are $20 a pair. And again, their CEO said on his most recent earnings call of recent global marketing campaigns that they’ve done is the approach that will quote drive greater connectivity and efficiency worldwide. And this is following a trend of major brands shifting from a global marketing strategy to a national one. There’s some precedent with this in February 2020, KFC and crocs did a collab, which featured a clog covered in fried chicken print, and complete with chicken scented jibbitz charms that look like fried chicken drumsticks. The 20 plus year old crocs brand is having a bit of a renaissance as of late reporting record high revenues in 2022. And continuing that trajectory in 2023. That’s all quoted from the National Restaurant news report. So the point here is that if you think about this from a business perspective, right like Kroc shoes and fast food, you know, what, what’s the connection, I couldn’t tell you. But from like a brand personality expression perspective, like you can see the personality of the brand in the shoes is playful, it’s younger. Food. I’m not the target audience for this Oh, now spend $75 In crocs alone, McDonald’s crocs, but that is how they’re thinking. And this is part of a global strategy. So for cannabis or their partnerships your brand can consider that would embody the personality of the brand that maybe aren’t as kind of revenue or business driven to consider. I want to get a second example of this. So chill house and Vitaminwater did a collab that drops this week. Chill house is owned by a young female Latina entrepreneur. And it’s one store spa sort of in New York, where they do kind of massages and manicures on the go. They were hammered during the pandemic. And so they they pivoted or added a product line of manicure tips press on manicures. So, so manicure tips in vitamin water. In this line is you can see the designs of the tips reflect the vitamin water flavors. And again, kind of embody that personality in a visual way. Further, this collection that you’re looking at was created with men in mind, but made for men, women and nonbinary. baddies everywhere, according to their website. So manicure tips and Vitamin Water marketing towards men. And just speaking to buyer personas, if you look at when they announced this, their caption on social media, lowercase letters, abbreviated, abbreviated words, full uppercase, words, emojis, this is definitely speaking to a Gen Z audience, and they are communicating the way that Gen Z and a younger audience might communicate. I also thought this comment was kind of funny, because this person doesn’t see the the What does vitamin water have to do with manicures, which was my initial reaction. But thinking about it, in my perspective, what I’m seeing is is a physical expression of the brand in a new way. And again, Vitamin Water manicure tips, you can maybe make the connection that there’s wellness involves sort of these drinks with, you know, going to the salon getting your nails done, but it’s certainly not something that would have been intuitive to me at least. Okay, moving on from that talk about AI a little bit. So, this has been important to pay attention to we’ve been following AI trends and marketing closely this year. And this is from a report that was released in October, so last month from the advertising Association. And their AI Task Force specifically this is a UK based Trade Association announced an AI Task Force aimed at helping the UK ad industry navigate the promise and perils presented by AI. It is co chaired by Google. So take that for what it’s worth. But these were their results. And they’re meeting every six weeks over the next year. So first is transparency. I think this one’s quite obvious right like am I interacting with something that was made by a human or made by AI? big concern there? Number two accuracy. So there is is a tendency Have you all heard of this term for AI chatbots to hallucinate? So there’s been much written about this phenomenon. But there was a recent New York Times article published in which quote, Microsoft, Microsoft’s GPT, four enabled Bing chat bot, took a reporter on the hallucinatory rollercoaster ride of a conversation, naming itself Sydney, and trying to convince its interlocutor to leave his wife so that he and it could be together. That is a New York Times headline, not a black mirror episode. So accuracy number two unresolved issue around AI and marketing. Number three is employee morale. I started this because I think this is obvious. I think we’re noticing this and it’s important. Gallup poll found that 75% of Americans believe AI will decrease the total number of US jobs over the next 10 years. And Goldman Sachs report in April found that advancements in AI could lead to the automation of 300 million jobs globally, that is almost the size of the population of the entire US. This is particularly concerning to young professionals, as well as those in graphic design and journalism, which revolves around creativity and content production. That is exactly our wheelhouse in the marketing community. This is something we need to talk about. I don’t have the answer, but it is impacting employee morale. So consider that. For ownership. Again, we’ve seen lawsuits of creators, writers, artists are suing these chatbot companies because they’re training their language models on copyrighted content. So that is currently being worked out in the courts. And then five is consent. So there’s been a recent escalation of the use of deep fakes within marketing, which underscores the importance of consent. Marketers are quote excited about this because there’s the potential for celebrity cameos that can be produced without actually needing to fly said celebrity to production site. We saw this come up in the sag AFTRA negotiations, AI was one of their largest sticking points. And it’s already been an issue. There was a Volkswagen commercial that was recently published, that use a deep fake of a person who was recently deceased. So top five biggest unresolved issues around AI and marketing, transparency, accuracy, employee morale, ownership and consent. Okay, switching the topic of this whole webinar is to talk about marketing during the holidays. First thing is the internet holidays, Black Friday, the OG internet holiday, it started as retail move to online. Now Cyber Monday is its own thing, which apparently, and I forget the name of the body, but whomever America decides determines holidays, it was an official holiday in 2005. So that was almost 20 years ago. I thought Cyber Monday personally was a little younger than that, but it’s actually not it’s it’s almost 18 years old now. But there was a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, that’s talks about kind of specific internet holidays. So consumers were given a coupon for either national Picnic Day, or a retailer’s annual one day sale, the picnic day promo was much more likely to make a purchase, because the specificity created more intrigue than the generic sale. So when you’re planning for 2024, are there holidays you can maybe invent within your company? Is it your founding birthday? Is it the launch of a new product, did something specific happen that would be relevant to your brand story, you could create a holiday around this holiday season might be the time to test that content in that copy. And see if that works. We know there’s a lot of discounting and sales in cannabis. And there’s been a lot said about that. But special day promos do work to drive sales. Another tip using stories and 24 hour kind of cycle available content to promote promotions. Sephora actually dropped several promo codes in their stories that created a viral engagement on social media. Obviously, you can directly copy those promo codes and do ecommerce checkout online. We can’t quite do that in cannabis. But is there a way you could consider putting some type of promotional or incentive on stories that might be a 24 hour thing that would drive engagement in some way? Maybe folks get free stickers or I don’t know reduce price T shirts when they come into the retail store. But consider using that strategy of using stories to promote something in a short period of time. That would happen offline. That is compliant, of course. Next, know the holiday shopper. We know about buyer personas within our own businesses. But do we know their holiday shopping person ohana, Pinterest created three, the early bird. So the early bird shops for the winter holidays early in the year. The sooner you can reach this consumer, the more likely you’ll be to get your products on her shopping list. That is not me. But some people are the early bird. The traditionalist following holiday custon customs makes the shopper happy. She’ll appreciate traditional holiday imagery and colors and ads, and then last the self gifter. This shopper typically in her 30s doesn’t just like gifts for others, but also for herself. Use your ad copy to encourage her to treat herself. So holiday shopping personas, the earlybird, the traditionalist and the self gifter. Consider what those might be within your business. Another quick reminder, updating your social media copy. And using language relevant to this time of year. This could be an ad for a million different things. But new year new me incorporate the language of the holidays into your social media. This is the time to slice it up and change it up if you want to stick out amongst the sea of content that will be published over the next six weeks. And then lastly, gift guides. These tips apply to both gift guides, which is a tried and true marketing holiday strategy, but also just your marketing this season in general. So first tap into nostalgia. Christmas brings up memories of childhood magic, right Santa was real at some point, perhaps. So how do you tap into nostalgia? You can use black and white pictures old style fonts and nostalgic photos from times gone by. When I read this and made me think of the old like FAO shorts ads that had nutcrackers from decades past or old trains that kids used to have tapped into nostalgia. Second, say thank you ahead of time, stand out from the crowd by sending thank you cards to your loyal customers at Thanksgiving. Instead of waiting until the traditional Christmas and Hanukkah card giving season that would be now third, focus on customer loyalty. Take the opportunity to offer a special gift to your best customers. This can be something like a discount, or an experience like an exclusive first look at a new product. If you did a first look, it doesn’t have to happen this season. It could be you know, q1 or next year, but think about how to leverage customer loyalty in this gift giving season. And then lastly, don’t forget about mobile, half literally 50% of online sales annually happen during six days. And they’re in the holiday season. They’re Thanksgiving and December. It’s like before and after Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the day after Christmas the day before, and a few other random days in December, but six days between now and the end of the year is where half of online sales are. So make sure your website is mobile optimized. And just consider that lens now more if you haven’t already. Okay, so that’s the end of my planned remarks. We’ve got about five minutes left, we will stay on, you know, as long as you guys want to hang for a little bit, but I wanted to also allow you the opportunity to connect with each other. So members if you need anything, questions, partnership service providers, feel free to put it in the chat and make that ask. But I will also pull up the chat now and see if you guys have any questions. So if you have any questions, put them there.
Lisa Buffo 28:42
Emily said some of my slides didn’t come through. I don’t know if you guys saw that. But I can go back to those if not. But any specific questions for me thoughts. Okay, if not, if not, then just we will wrap with, again, quick reminder of the events we’ve got coming up. All of this can be found on the events section of our website. We have two more of these where we will be focusing on legal considerations for the new year as one as well as the state of cannabis marketing, the new ROI as the third one. And wanted to remind you about upgrading and the new member promo we are doing for individual members if you want to upgrade to business or if you’re brand new. We’re doing complimentary consulting as well as offering our feature of cannabis marketing talks. And if you have any questions about anything, you can reach out to myself or Emily, our membership manager. We do want to know what you’re interested in. As far as content Wise for next year, what problems you might be having. We do program very closely based on your feedback. This was a part of it and appreciate your time today. Okay Happy Thanksgiving Kiersten. Hope to see you all at Blizzcon. Hope to see you at our mixer. And yes, happy Turkey Day. Thanks, Shauna. Thanks, Rudy. Thank you all for listening. And if you enjoyed this episode, check out our member portal for the final deck to our members. And we’ve got part two on December 5 state of cannabis marketing legal considerations for the new year. And our final one, part three on December 14, state of cannabis marketing the new ROI. And don’t forget if you join or upgrade to our annual business membership, we are offering 10 hours of our future of cannabis marketing content that is exclusive to those attendees. We’re offering two hours of complimentary free strategy consulting as you put together your 2024 plans, as well as a media feature across all of our platforms, blog, social media and newsletter. Thank you so much.
Meet Your Host
LISA BUFFO, Founder and CEO of Cannabis Marketing Association
Lisa Buffo is an award-winning entrepreneur and marketer with a passion for launching companies with experience in both the cannabis and technology industries. Lisa is the Founder & CEO of the Cannabis Marketing Association, a membership based organization focused on education and best practices for industry marketers with the vision of rebranding cannabis at the national level. She was named one of 2019’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars in Cannabis by Marijuana Venture Magazine in 2019 and named “The Marketing Guru” by Women & Weed magazine and is a featured speaker and media source in publications like Forbes, The Guardian, and VICE. You can find her on Instagram @libuff and Twitter @libuff21.
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