The legal status of cannabis in the UK is changing, with recreational use becoming more accepted and mainstream. Although many people have shifted to the ‘grass’ being legal and readily available, the same can’t be said for cannabis-related products. Maybe it’s time for the industry to adapt and change with the times.
Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting out, it’s always an exciting time to begin a new business. However, taking on the cannabis industry might not be the wisest move if you don’t have the right knowledge and insights. This article will teach you everything you need to know about marketing weed online, including how to create the perfect marketing campaign and what tools and techniques to use to ensure your product gets the biggest audience possible.
The Rise Of Online Marketing
The way we find, connect with, and engage with content has changed, thanks to the internet and social media. People are now able to discover content that suits their needs and interests while feeling safe, comfortable, and encouraged to engage with the creator. This is known as ‘brand loyalty’ and it presents a major opportunity for cannabis businesses.
Branded content is now commonplace, with many large corporations creating blogs, producing videos, and updating their social media channels with all things related to their brand. These channels are then linked to in-house websites where the corporation’s products can be purchased. The rise of the internet has not only benefited brands, it has also opened up the world of marketing to those without professional experience, as well as providing a wealth of information and data to analyze.
The Legal Risks
The UK government has announced that it will gradually remove the criminal penalties for possessing or growing cannabis, with the legal status of the plant improving to match that of tobacco and alcohol. This is a significant change and it will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications for the cannabis industry, both in the UK and internationally. We expect to see more corporates entering the market than ever before, looking to capitalize on the increasing demand.
However, whilst the change in the law is positive, that doesn’t mean that marketing cannabis is without risk. Companies that ignore the ethical and social implications of their actions run the risk of being targeted by regulators, shareholders, and consumers. After all, tobacco and alcohol businesses had to grapple with similar issues after similar legal changes.
The Ethical And Social Implications Of Cannabis Marketing
Cannabis is a versatile plant and it possesses a variety of applications, both recreational and therapeutic. However, the industry can’t seem to evolve past the fact that it’s still considered a ‘dangerous drug’. Many people feel that the stigma associated with cannabis prevents individuals from openly discussing their experiences and recommending products to help with specific problems. Despite this, we are seeing a shift in opinion and patients are more than willing to speak about their cannabis use, as well as the products they rely on to manage their intake.
As a marketer, you should promote a drug that is good for society as a whole. Not only does this demonstrate your own personal support for the plant, but it also encourages others to follow suit and speak out against the ‘drug culture’ that still surrounds cannabis in many countries. Creating a safe and supportive environment is the key to encouraging people to open up about their cannabis use and it’s an area that the industry as a whole needs to look at. Whilst some companies have made significant strides in terms of corporate social responsibility, more needs to be done to align the products that they sell with broader social values.
Where Do I Start?
Whether you’re a cannabis business or just an avid consumer, you’ll soon realize that the UK market is incredibly diverse. The market research conducted by Canalys in 2018 identified that 49% of the UK population currently use some form of cannabis. It would be wise to take this into consideration when developing your marketing strategy.
Considering the high levels of use and the legal changes happening in the country, it’s an exciting time to be a part of the cannabis industry. More and more businesses are taking the plunge and creating websites, blogs, and social media accounts to educate their customers about the many health benefits of cannabis. In addition to this, many large corporations are looking to enter the space and provide their customers with the best possible experience.
At Seedcamp, we are always looking for new ventures to invest in, as well as passionate entrepreneurs who are keen to make a mark and create a positive impact in a sector that we feel needs some changing. Whilst we can’t invest directly in a cannabis business due to UK Securities and Markets Authority (“the FSA”) rules, we do invest in smaller scale cannabis ventures that we feel have a real chance of success.
It’s important to establish a benchmark for your marketing strategy, as well as for each individual campaign that you run. This will help you track the success of various strategies and ensure that you’re focusing on the right metrics. Start by benchmarking the total market with a demographics report.
A demographics report will identify the demographics that use your product (in this case, cannabis) and the type of consumer you’re targeting. You can then incorporate this into the development of future marketing campaigns, whilst taking into consideration the changing legal status of cannabis in the UK. With tobacco and alcohol industries having to adapt to the new environment, it’s an opportunity for the cannabis industry to evolve with the times and change the game.