On October 17, 2018, the Cannabis Act came into force, along with a strict framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada. Its objective is to protect public health and safety – more importantly – to protect the health of anyone under the legal age of 18.
The federal government projects that 450,000 customers a day would make up the market, making recreational cannabis in Canada a $900 million industry. Analysts predict the Cannabis industry could ultimately total between 4.9 and 8.7 billion dollars making the legal Cannabis market comparable in size to the hard liquor or wine market.
With business ripe for the picking, confusion around the stringent advertising and promotion guidelines – as well as other stigmas associated with Cannabis – have many printers shutting the door and shutting out their chance to grab a share of this budding market.
Mark Gruchy, an associate with Gittens & Associates in St. John’s, recently wrote in Canadian Lawyer Magazine that the Act’s confusion and ambiguity, which prohibits packaging or labelling cannabis in a way that appeals to youth, stems less from what the legislation says and more from what it does not say.
Jessica Moran, Director of Marketing at Strainprint – the Cannabis Intelligence Company, fully agrees that the act is confusing for both businesses and people. Strainprint ’s sole mission is to help people get the best possible results from their cannabis therapy. Their app gathers the real-time scientific data that licensed producers, clinicians and researchers need to grow and prescribe the most effective cannabis-based therapy solution. They do not produce, grow or sell Cannabis. Nonetheless, they have had to re-think traditional marketing and branding awareness strategies.
According to Jessica, “Traditional branding doesn’t exist here. A large chunk of what has worked in the past has been taken away”.
Knowledge is power
Print and marketing solutions providers who want to capture their share of this fast-paced, game-changing market, must empower themselves with as much knowledge as possible. Take a cue from our transactional print colleagues, who make it their mission to stay current with legal, privacy and accessibility legislations. Read and understand The Cannabis Act – Bill C-45.
Now, more than ever, the folks tasked with promoting their brand could use a helping hand from their print and marketing partner. By simplifying the process, you can spend more time developing new branding and campaign strategies together – and less time worrying about bleeds and traps.
Armed with the do’s and don’ts of the act, shine a light on your value as a trusted partner by providing direction and guidance. Produce a series of how-to guides like: tips to ensure your artwork comes out the way it should; converting RGB into CMYK, how to properly prep files for print, etc.
Same channel – new story
One way that mainstream media has adapted to the Act is through the creation of age-gated Cannabis websites, publications, magazines, newsletters and more. For example, The GrowthOp is Postmedia’s standalone cannabis-related website, with aptly-titled: CannabisPost their newsletter.
“The idea that cannabis publishing and media brands are created is evidence of the legalization and the growing acceptance of it among the mainstream—they are becoming symbiotic,” said Bethany Moore, communications and projects manager at the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).
With new Cannabis-focused media outlets popping up daily, smart businesses are becoming expert story-tellers – getting coverage and brand exposure through by-lined articles, interviews, news segments, and event coverage – in both industry and mainstream publications.
Speaking of events …
According to Strainprint, events are one area where creativity shines through – in printed brochures, product displays, swag and even car-wrapping! As long as you’re not selling products, items are for display purposes only, and the audience is of legal age, the trade show floor is an ideal venue where print reigns supreme.
Push the envelope – slowly
One of the biggest surprises expressed by the industry is the lack of education provided by the Government following legalization. Some companies are using the ambiguity of the Act and the resulting confusion to their advantage. They’re pushing the envelope until the Government pushes back.
As print professionals and advisors, appreciate that clients have their own comfort level and offer solutions that give them peace of mind – while aligning to their objectives. Show them what’s possible – and help them avoid decisions that could hurt them in the long run.
#B2B #CX #CustomerExperience #Marketing #Print #Cannabis #Packaging #Events #Design
Portions of this article were originally published in Graphic Arts Magazine.