There are some who don’t understand why anyone would need to market cannabis. “Doesn’t it sell itself?” they wonder. The short answer to this question is no. And with the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in Nevada, an opportunity for brand leaders (both medical and recreational) to grab a hold of and expand the cannabis market is now present.

Why Should You Market Cannabis?

To answer the above question, all one has to do is look at what happened to the alcohol industry after Prohibition ended. Some of the companies that quickly jumped on the opportunity (like Jim Beam and Yuengling & Son) were able to gain control over their specific market shares and are still holding their own to this day.

The First Rule of Marketing Medical Cannabis

Some brands make the mistakes of creating messages that, while appealing to the management team, don’t speak to their target markets. They forgot that branding isn’t about what they like, it’s about the wants and needs of your consumer base.

It’s essential that you know who you are selling to in order to effectively focus your efforts.

For instance, based on information from New Theory, the consumers of legal cannabis tend to:

  • Range in age from 21-95
  • Spend a little over $30 per trip to a dispensary
  • Spend an average of $645 on cannabis in 2015
  • Have used cannabis before but are looking primarily to relieve pain, not get high.

Taking Things a Step Further

Cannabis stereotypes are deeply rooted. Most believe that cannabis users are young men who are lazy and unproductive. But, based on the stats above, this just isn’t true.

Instead, cannabis consumers aren’t like the customers in other industries. They don’t fit a cookie cutter mold where their buying preferences and habits are easily predicted.

Thus, to find your ideal customer, you must look beyond the statistics. Answering the following questions will help you do just that:

  • What market are you trying to target? Younger, middle-aged, or senior?
  • Are you interested in the female demographic?
  • What’s your brand’s strength? Is it edibles and concentrates? Or are your flowers the best in the county?
  • Based on your strengths, who is your ideal customer?

Furthermore, you must figure out the specific needs of your target market i.e. what they’re using cannabis for and how it fits into their lives.

For instance, most medical cannabis patients use the healthful herb to treat pain, anxiety, or appetite loss. But, there’s more to it than that. To gain a comprehensive perspective of your ideal customer, you must also include certain criteria in your analysis. They include:

  • Personality traits
  • Lifestyle
  • Living situation
  • Age
  • Single/married
  • Shopping patterns
  • Hobbies
  • Residence
  • Favorite social media platforms

If you are not aware of their specific needs, you are doing a disservice to your customers as well as the perception of cannabis. When you figure out how this herb fits into their lives, you can sell them the correct product for their needs.

You see, selling cannabis effectively is more than just a simple transaction. It’s about creating an experience and building trust. In the long run, this will help you increase average order value and create an experience that your customers want.

One Last Thing

Once you’ve gotten the answers to the questions listed above, you must now narrow your ideal target down to a 15-year age bracket.

This may seem like you’re limiting yourself but the opposite is true. Effective marketing for your target group will expand into other demographics as well. Defining a specific age group helps you simplify the process of framing your message, which can help you create your brand and logo assets.

The Bottom Line

Based on the current pace of cannabis legislation, pretty soon customers will be able to find whatever they need right around the corner. The companies that will stick around for the long run are the ones that provide a higher order value. These are the companies that took the time to be intentional about the way they represent themselves in the marketplace and how well they stand out in the customer’s lives and minds. Following the above tips will go a long way towards helping you do just that.