Catching Up on Experiential Marketing for Cannabis

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Verdant displays of flowers and foliage spill out of quaint wooden huts and brightly-painted vans. Stepping up to the interactive scent wall, you inhale vanilla cake. You travel through the market to check out one incredible confection display after another. All the while, some of the coolest people you’ve ever seen mill about in flower crowns and aviators.

No, you haven’t fallen down the rabbit hole, nor has Martha Stewart taken over Coachella. Welcome to the highly-curated world of experiential cannabis sales, one of the most innovative marketplaces out there. It’s an industry that has gone from hippie-outlier to power player, with sales skyrocketing and serious players jumping on board.

Event Marketer recently reported on the high-rising marijuana industry. “Marijuana Business Daily estimates that legal sales will grow to more than $20 billion by 2022, up from approximately $10 billion in 2018. In fact, marijuana-infused beverages alone could explode to upwards of $600 million in the next four years. Simply put, the modern cannabis industry is lit.”

Pithy puns aside, there’s a seriousness to riding the high of the cannabis industry. While educating the market and playing by the rules is paramount, there’s more to marketing cannabis than just leaf emblems and audience targeting.

Our own industry expert, Business Development Executive Zack Schwartz, explains why. Zack, who has a background in marketing cannabis brands, calls it a quickly-accelerating landscape that is prime for experiential marketing. “Cannabis is now just like any other industry from product to retail to branding. Legit runners have taken the stage, with Fortune 500 CEOs on board.”

“When the cannabis industry first got started, people were focused on the business and legalities of it all. Many didn’t see the inherent value in the marketing itself. But now, just being a cannabis business isn’t enough. It’s as sophisticated as any mainstream market out there.”

True to the theater-ethos of Group Delphi, Zack suggests that you consider the story you want the audience to experience. “When getting into cannabis marketing, you want to understand the normalizing operating principles. Take the cultural associations as a flavor, but not the driving force. This isn’t just about a big pot leaf as a brand. If you want to differentiate, think about what is motivating your customer. How will this product exist in people’s lives?”

All of this makes cannabis a natural fit for the creativity of the experiential market. “Because there are so many new laws that have been imposed, you have to think differently. Use them to innovate.” Zack says. “Both the cannabis industry and experiential marketers rely on innovation and creativity. And now, there’s so much space and opportunity to get in there and set the stage. Just be memorable.”

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