cannabis marketing

Cannabis Marketing, Shedding the Stoner Stereotype, Part 1/3

In branding, cannabis industry, marijuana marketing by Josh Whitaker

Why is Shedding the Stoner Stereotype so Important for Cannabis Marketing?

How’s this for cannabis marketing?

“Duuude! I’m sooo high. Do you have any Doritos around? I’ve got the munchies bad.” “Yeah. Hang on a sec, I’m almost through this level, just gotta get a few more punches in.” “Alright man. Cool. Cool.”


The prevailing image of marijuana users in today’s cannabis market is of lazy twenty or thirty somethings. They’re living in mother’s basements. We see them as playing video games, eating junk food, and getting no real work done. They are seen as wasting their time and potential. True, the image has a few more dimensions than that, but it is still the overall stereotype. As the cannabis industry expands exponentially and businesses begin to tackle the legal challenges of advertising, eliminating the stoner representation of the product is a hurdle worth jumping over.

Part I: Bringing Marijuana to the Mainstream

Some businesses have already begun. Cannabis marketing is quite real now. Savvy business owners are not aiming their products for such a narrow slice of a very big pie. The demographic is far wider than that. They’re going after academics, hipsters, PTA members, medical and mental health patients trying to avoid harmful medications.  They’re going after responsible adults from all walks of life, all socioeconomic statuses, and all genders. They’re portraying cannabis usage in homes, back yards, decks, at events, or even walking their dog after dinner. They’re going after the mainstream.

The results from the 2014 GreenWave Report say if cannabis becomes federally legal, it could be a 35 billion a  year business by 2020. That is 35 billion dollars in twelve months, building up momentum in only 5 year’s time. That’s how fast this industry is growing, and their aren’t that many stoners in the U.S. to make up that kind of money. Businesses know that.

Cannabis Marketing Helps Marijuana Become More Normal

Cannabis marketing is the figurative gatekeeper. What companies present to the public as the image of marijuana will begin to be what the population associates with the available products. Will it be six-foot, florescent plastic bongs, burning up large buds of weed by cloudy-headed deviants? Consider instead, attractively packaged mints with precise dosing listed on the front, discretely carried in a designer bag by a middle-aged successful business woman. She’s on her way to a social meet-and-greet after work. She’s classy, successful, and a discrete cannabis consumer.

Colorado Companies that are doing it right already

images from Dixie

Colorado-based Dixie has been advertising to the mainstream for some time now, with a motto of, “the future of cannabis” and a packaging theme where all of their products look like bottled and boxed spa products. Clearly, their strategy has been seeing the future longer than most. Go Dixie.

Along these lines, Dixie has their measured milligrams printed right on the label and has everything from “relaxing mints” meant to convey the idea that you can have a little breath freshener whenever you may want it, to THC infused chocolate, and pain relieving oil for daily aches and pains. This is not just pushing the edge anymore, but breaking down the entire idea that pot is a herb put in a pipe and smoked until one is lost in hazy delirium. Marijuana has grown up and past this unfitting, too-small, idea.

Foria is another business that comes to mind that skipped the stoner image completely and came at marijuana from a different angle: female orgasms.

Again, the packaging, marketing, and even those who have reviewed their products, magazines like Cosmopolitan and GQ, give their marijuana product a different angle of legitimacy. Their company evokes a spa-like feel. The favorite hashtags are #pleasurewithin and #legalizeorgasms. Homepage images show pretty vulva-shaped flowers, and water dripping between two-cupped hands. It look like their target audience might be well-paid, middle-aged women, but I’m not entirely sure what is giving me that idea. Hmm…maybe all of it.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Cannabis Marketing, Shedding the Stoner Stereotype, next month!