Your Celebrity Cannabis Brand Doesn’t Mean S#!%, Consumers Shun Celebrity Marijuana Items Says New Data
If you are a regular follower of Cannabis.net you know we beat the drum continuously on how branding and marketing is relatively useless in cannabis, with a few exceptions here and there. The general idea is that consumer surveys, all the way back to when Canada legalized marijuana at the Federal leve,l show that consumers of cannabis care about three things. How did the product work and did you get the desired effect, how much did that product cost, and how far did you have to go to get that product. The color of your package and the font of your print is irrelevant to any post-purchase cannabis survey.
Now comes an update from Bloomberg entitled, “Celebrity Star Power Has So Far Had Limited Impact on Cannabis”. Guest writer Kevin Simauchi looks at how celebrities such as Martha Stewart and Mike Tyson have dipped their toes into cannabis and CBD marketing.
As Kevin points out, Martha and Mike have had some moderate success, but I would argue that Martha’s foray into CBD with Canopy Growth was from a galaxy far, far away at this point. Completely different time and place now from when Bruce Linton lead Canopy Growth to the biggest weed company in the world as Canada legalized recreational cannabis for the first time. If Martha introduced a new CBD line, even after the recent FDA announcement on CBD in food, would it even make headlines today?
Mike Tyson is unique in the sense of being a cultural icon and a huge user of cannabis. The Tyson brand did so poorly at launch, they had to revamp it and get new investors involved to launch Tyson 2.0 as it is called now. The creative marketing of the “ear-bite” gummies refers to a famous boxing match where Mike Tyson actually bit part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off. If Tyson 2.0 released a regular cannabis gummy called “Tyson’s Treat” and It was a small square, are we talking about it and is there any buzz around it? This victory may be chalked up to creative marketing, not necessary Mike Tyson’s name.
Outside of those two examples, the celebrity brands don’t sell very well or stand out from the crowd with consumers. While Simauchi mentions the likes of Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Rosario Dawson, the data and dispensary owners say celebrity brands don’t stand out to consumers on a crowded dispensary shelf.
As the article states:
For Daniel Firtel, who leads TRP, a cannabis retailer with 18 dispensaries across eight states, he’s noticed that consumers don’t “necessarily care as much about celebrity attachments.” The vast majority of his company’s top-selling brands aren’t celebrity-linked ones, he added. Statehouse Holdings Inc., a cannabis company with 14 California stores, similarly noted that celebrity lines haven’t upended the competition.
Interestingly, two brands get mentioned as successful and they do not carry any celebrity endorsement.
Some retailers in states where marijuana has been legal the longest say that celebrity-linked brands have struggled to seriously compete with bigger labels such as Jeeter and Pacific Stone.
One good point the articles brings up on the “why” celebrity brands aren’t working is due to the restrictions on advertising cannabis that are currently in place without Federal legalization. The fact a celebrity can’t use their full marketing power to influence and create buzz around a cannabis brand could be hurting their launch and continued growth. The idea being, you may be a celebrity with lots of social media followers, but you can’t go out and blast your weed brand as you see fit since there are heavy restrictions in Canada and the US on marijuana advertising.
Part of the failure may the feeling of “faux celebrity weed endorsements”, questioning whether the celebrity is “all in” on cannabis, or is it just another endorsement deal like water, shoes, or clothing.
For Firtel and TRP, celebrity-backed products simply don’t have the capital or bandwidth to grow to the level of their more mainstream peers.
“A rapper or some sort of musician or celebrity, they’ll put out a strain and then it’ll kind of get launched and there’s a little bit of hype, but then there’s really not the follow-up,” Firtel said. That’s “because they don’t have the infrastructure, the team and, really, the level of commitment that is necessary in cannabis.”
The moral of the story is that if you are looking to create a great and lasting cannabis brand, don’t bother wasting your money on the latest hot musician or movie star, better to put your budget into the real influencers with consumers, the budtenders and people giving the face to face advice to the consumer.
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