Celebrities and Cannabis: How Much of a Threat are They to Small Businesses?
Headline after headline, we’re seeing star names entering the cannabis business. From Justin Beiber to Mike Tyson, chances are your favorite celebrity is trying to cash in on this fresh marketplace. But how effective is it to market cannabis products under a celebrity name? And better yet, are these marketing strategies posing a threat to small cannabis businesses?
It’s a tricky situation with no clear-cut answers. However, we’ve taken the time to dive deeper into celebrities and cannabis, providing you with a detailed analysis of how their mark on this industry is affecting the rest of the market.
Does Celebrity Influence Have an Impact on Cannabis Branding?
To begin, it’s difficult to even measure whether or not celebrity cannabis brands are successful. Naturally, they’re attempting to use their name to leverage products to consumers.
But the cannabis industry is much different than other markets. And most customers don’t really care about the brand they’re smoking unless it provides a significantly unique experience.
Compare this to the fashion industry, where big-name brands obviously have a major effect on what products are most sought after. In cannabis, such an effect just doesn’t exist. And it seems celebrities aren’t having nearly as much influence in the marketplace as they desire.
“I think [the success of celebrity cannabis brands] depend on the celebrity,” Verena von Pfetten, co-founder of Gossamer, told Yahoo! Entertainment. “The best ones, which are currently quite rare, feel authentic and true to the celebrity – offer something beyond a name or endorsement, and are built and branded in a way that allows them to grow beyond the celebrity themselves.”
She continued: “Fandom can be fickle, and we’ve seen plenty of brands get hit when there’s a misstep or when the star power of a celebrity wanes. If a celebrity is also spread too thin across different product lines and categories, it can start to feel a little gimmicky.”
With that in mind, it’s likely you’ve never even heard of most celebrity cannabis brands. If you’re like the rest of us, chances are you’re just going to purchase whatever strains, type, and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) percentage product you’re looking for.
Still, with this in mind, another question begins to unfold:
What Does Affect Cannabis Branding?
Cannabis is a very political plant: with nearly a century of stigmatization, there’s a lot of misinformation and overall negative opinions surrounding it. Furthermore, due to the fact that it remains illegal federally, branding and advertising within this industry are extremely difficult.
As of this time, the most successful brands keep it simple. With advertising, branding, and designs being geared toward a general audience. Take Kings Garden as an example. With one visit to their website, you get the sense that anybody is welcome here.
And that’s what brands are going for. They’re not just targeting one age group or gender or ethnicity – they’re marketing towards everyone. In order to be successful with such a strategy, you need to keep things simple.
Furthermore, most brands also advertise cannabis for its all-natural healing abilities. Therefore, holistic aesthetics (that may border a “hippie-like” artistic look) are also common.
Such aesthetics are important in packaging and important in a dispensary setting. If you’re walking into your local cannabis shop, would you prefer a brand with Steve Urkel’s face on it or one with a slight psychedelic vibe?
The bottom line is celebrities don’t have a huge influence when it comes to cannabis branding. Naturally, some have made cannabis a part of their persona – with Snoop Dogg being the easiest example. But very few have successfully launched cannabis brands that are turning in big profits.
In fact, this is simply a trend currently found in the industry. Most cannabis businesses aren’t making money and very few are breaking even. Of course, such matters are a whole different story and largely have to do with poor regulations. But it’s important to mention as it’s one of the reasons that even celebrity cannabis brands won’t have leverage over customers.