Article by Chris Keam, Lift News
What will marketing efforts for recreational cannabis look like? It’s a good question: One that federal government regulators can’t yet answer, leaving Canada’s licensed cannabis producers in limbo as big budget plans and potential profits hang in the balance. With legal recreational marijuana looming on the horizon this summer (or later), Health Canada’s rules for important issues such as packaging and advertising restrictions remain undefined.
“The biggest issue is not that there is going to be rules. We expect that,” said Dave Bigioni, chief marketing officer for Canopy Growth, a large-scale licensed producer planning to supply recreational cannabis as a supplier and/or retailer in provinces across Canada. “But (it’s) just the timing. Packaging is one area that all the LPs (licensed producers) are waiting for final direction on, as are the retailers, so we are looking forward to being able to nail that down as we move forward.”
Reps at another major Canadian cannabis company, Aphria, also acknowledged the impact of unclear regulations.
“The entire industry is waiting on the government to set the regulations around marketing and advertising for the recreational market,” agreed Aphria’s director of communications Andrew Swartz. “Until that time, we are not able to discuss our plans, which will necessarily be shaped and guided by those regulations.”
Despite the uncertainty, marketing efforts are already ramping up. Leafs by Snoop, the American rapper-branded cannabis currently being distributed by Canopy to medical consumers and regulated by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), is slated for distribution to recreational cannabis consumers in Manitoba. But celebrity endorsements may be forbidden by as-yet unpublished ad regulations.
Aphria-backed Hiku Brands has taken another approach – upscale, targeted campaigns designed to smash stoner stereotypes and appeal to niche markets across the demographic spectrum. In early February, it was officially launched by CEO Alan Gertner, with sub-brands Van der Pop, DOJA and Tokyo Smoke each targeting a different kind of cannabis consumer.