Here is a brief overview of the top things to consider when creating your cannabis marketing messages:
Here at Core Print & Packaging, we get a lot of questions from our customers about the right language to use on product packaging and other marketing materials. We discussed this a little bit in our earlier blog about regulations. However, we did not dive into the “dos and don’ts” of specific language. With regulations that vary from state to state, the subject of marketing language can become pretty confusing. That’s not to mention the ongoing debate within the industry about the meanings of different words. Here is a brief overview of the top things to consider when creating your cannabis marketing messages:
Speak to your audience.
Many cannabis brands are dropping “stoner” language that only appeals to a culture-driven customer. Instead, they are broadening their language to target those who may be new consumers or unfamiliar with cannabis culture. Product brands and dispensaries are using language that appeals to the overall wellness consumer. They are making sure to include messages that educate new customers on cannabis terms and products. Health and wellness messages, as well as technical language on cannabis are a couple examples. This helps to elevate the marketing message beyond stereotypical “pot culture” and creates a more sophisticated appeal.
It is still very important to maintain strict adherence to honest messages that do not overstate effects or expected results from product use. Individual states, as well as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, strictly regulate against making unfounded health claims in products. It is easy to run afoul of regulations with careless use of language.
Keep it age appropriate.
Tobacco companies were famously taken to task decades ago for marketing tactics that were undoubtedly designed to appeal to children and young adults (remember ‘Joe Camel’?). Now, regulators are concerned that marketing materials for cannabis products might appeal to those under the age of 21. Cannabis companies are extremely limited in what language and images they can use in their marketing materials. This is to avoid any perception they are appealing to children. This applies to the packaging, advertising, marketing materials, media and even logo design.
Any language that might appeal to individuals younger than 21 years old must be strictly avoided. This challenge is especially difficult on social media platforms. These platforms often shut down cannabis company accounts over language and imagery. Even with the industry’s best efforts, a recent University of Wisconsin study claims that cannabis companies are appealing to children. This is despite state regulations, so make sure you regularly err on the side of caution to avoid any mixed messaging.
Use industry-standard language.
In an industry that is growing rapidly, it is easy for language to become muddled and confusing. New products are being created all the time and new markets are constantly coming onboard. A product marketed in Washington state may have a completely different name than a similar product sold in California. Always ensure you are appealing to the right customer and staying within the boundaries set by regulatory bodies. Using universally accepted language is one of the best ways to avoid problems. If you are in doubt about how the industry uses a particular word, product name or phrase, you can consult this glossary of cannabis product terms created by the Cannabis Manufacturing Committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).
Always do your research.
A review of these three key areas should help you refine how you approach your marketing message. This should also help you steer clear of any regulatory issues. To be certain, always check with your state’s regulations regarding marketing language. Also, be sure you understand how FDA regulations apply to your brand. If you have more questions, you are always free to ask us here at Core.
While not an exhaustive list, these factors are the top considerations when crafting marketing language that meets regulatory compliance while ensuring quality and brand awareness. The team at Core Print & Packaging can review your options with you. We can help you determine what meets the needs of your brand, your product and your consumers.