Product packaging is one of the oldest branding disciplines. Now, packaging is increasingly becoming a storytelling medium, especially in a nascent industry like recreational cannabis.
Gone are the days of selling buds and brownies in tiny zipper bags: Cannabis packaging is more sophisticated than ever before. Brands that do it right are creating marketing history while simultaneously changing public opinion with their perfectly packaged creations.
Developing cannabis manufacturers are raising the bar at the intersection of wellness, compliance and luxury branding.
Safe, secure and informational packaging
The number one function of packaging in the cannabis industry is to comply with state laws. Very few consumer products are being regulated as tightly as state-legal cannabis and all of its infused byproducts.
In most states with medical or recreational cannabis programs, each individual item must be sealed in containers that are both childproof and tamper-evident. In several places, even the bags customers exit the stores with must have some kind of child-proofing function. Pulling this off, while remaining chic and stylish, is a challenge for cannabis brands who want to appeal to a higher-end audience.
What is actually printed on the packaging is also important to consider, especially in the edibles space where dosing can be tricky. Newer consumers are prone to eat an entire candy bar rather than the recommended one-inch square. Packaging helps fill that education gap by explaining the basics, such as recommended dosage, total dosage, average onset time and best time of day to consume. SPOT, in Seattle, is one such edible brand that puts painstaking detail into their edible labeling for the direct benefit of the consumer.
Additionally, packaging can be used to highlight special qualities like unique flavors, organic or vegan ingredients that make a product truly superior to its competitors on the shelf.
Pushing the envelope and elevating the industry
In cannabis, smart and artistic packaging design is equally important to all the compliance measures companies must undertake.
For years, marijuana products were sold in packages that did not fit their mysterious and therapeutic side effects. In moving away from the old school street subculture, creating thoughtful packaging solutions provides cannabis companies a unique way to change the entire conversation surrounding their products.
Take Canndescent as an example. The company packages cannabis flower and pre-rolled joints in an entirely new way, throwing traditional slang-sounding strain names to the wind and instead using their packaging to tell a story about how the product will make the user feel or painting a picture of the type of occasion that strain might best accompany.
Canndescent is no stranger to adapting its packaging to complement creative marketing activations. They put together collectible single-strain gift sets complete with branded matches and rolling papers and fashioned them into cross body bags inspired by designers such as Coach and Hermes. The chic gifts were distributed at exclusive parties during both weekends of last year’s Coachella.
Opponents of the plant may still be out there, but perhaps beautiful, safe and functional packaging can eventually bridge the gap between cannabis and the masses.