Are Feelings the Future of Cannabis?
Is the shift from strain names to feelings based on demand or just a marketing ploy? Is dumbing down cannabis products the right direction?
How are you feeling today? Do you want to feel elevated, relaxed, spacey, or calm? Recent trends in cannabis marketing and embraced by some brands is to remove the strain names used in their products and use effects and feelings. In the marketing world of “features vs. benefits”, is that shift due to demand and “pain points” of consumers, or just a marketing ploy to spoon feed cannabis to new consumers.
Many brands, including Ignite and Dosist, have gone from their vape pens with strain names to using just the effect that the strain would have on the consumers. Instead of Blue Dream or Gorilla Glue, you know get a proprietary blend that will make you feel happy or relaxed. What are some of the issues with going this route starting with the most important?
Cannabis Effects Everyone Differently
Regular readers of Cannabis.net know we have a few articles up on how and why cannabis effects everyone differently. Why do some people feel panic attacks with a certain edible and others feel dreamy and relaxed? A few articles point out that our body endocannabinoid systems and deficiencies in those systems are all unique in the same way you might need more calcium and I might need more vitamin D. Genetics also plays a role in how our body responds to different cannabinoid profiles. So the main problem with dumbing down the cannabis products is that you can’t predict how a certain sativa or indica is going to make you feel “Relaxed”, when it could have a different effect on different people. Even if a indica makes 80% of its user feel relaxed, you are still looking at 20% of our clients NOT having the experience described on your product.
Did you know there are different types of THC? Which type of THC is in your simplied edible product labeling?
Are Consumers Wanting This Change?
Generally, the reasoning behind the change is something along the lines of “Consumers are so confused by strains and crazy names are too complicated, so they just want to come in and buy a product based on how they want to feel.”
Is that true? Has it been tested out with analytics and surveys?
I am dubious that this assumption is true based on the human history of recreational product buying and how brands have evolved. When we walk into a wine store, there are hundreds of different bottles of white and red white. We have not evolved in this industry to the point where wine just says “Good with Chicken”, “Serve with Fish”, “Best with Red Meat” on the labels. Why? Wouldn’t consumer demand dictate in this niche that a buyer is just overwhelmed by all the selections of red and white wine and what each one goes well with that they just want it dumbed down to a pairing of effect?
A second discretionary area where we haven’t seen this change is candy and chocolate. Walk into CVS, Rite Aid, or Walgreens and look at the candy and gum section at the register. Hundreds of brands and designs are there to chose from and the chocolate/candy industry hasn’t evolved to the point of just “sweet”, “sour”, “creamy” etc. Why haven’t candy and chocolate consumers been overwhelmed by the selection of candies and chocolates and just wanted it simplified to effects? Yes, they keep the milk chocolate next to each other, in the same way a dispensary may keep sativas together on the shelf, but they are not mixed down to just the name of the desired effects. So, who or what data is showing that this is what the consumer really wants? Is this a real pain point of cannabis consumers? It isn't for consumers of wine, chocolate, and candy.
Is Dumbing Down Cannabis Smart Right Now?
At this stage of the nascent cannabis industry should we be oversimplifying and dumbing down cannabis products and strains? Isn’t this the time to be educating people about the hundreds of strains and products out there as opposed to spoon feeding simplified products to people? Why not created education around it? People love wine classes, reading Wine Spectator each month, and traveling to vineyards around the world trying wine and learning about different grapes. Why aren’t cannabis companies going this route as it is a proved successful model, as opposed to just summarizing cannabis strains into one-word products?
Oversimplifying a product this early in the cycle could limit growth with non-users. Did Porsche and Ferrari change their marketing or model names to “fast, faster, and fastest”? No. We are selling the cannabis plant short by going this route so early in the industry. Instead of fostering education and immersion in the plant, we are creating a dumber, less informed audience to try cannabis.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.