4 Ways To Beat a Saturated Market

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Illustration: balein / Shutterstock

Anyone with a cannabis brand is well aware of how crowded the market has become. Despite continued growth, there are too many brands doing too much of the same thing.

A saturated market is good for only one reason: It indicates there is demand. However, standing out from your competitors or entering such a busy industry can seem impossible without the right mix of strategy, connections, capital, and luck.


I’m here to tell you your fate doesn’t have to be left to … well, fate. With the right strategy and marketing, you can cut out all the noise and set yourself up for success.

Here are four ways to make your brand stand out in a saturated market.

Develop a strong brand story

A brand story captures the essence of your brand through the emotions you want your customers to feel. How you connect with your customers and humanize your brand is the most underestimated yet most make-or-break aspect of your marketing.

It’s why brands like Cann tend to cut out all the competitor noise. With fun phrases like “Give up the booze, not the buzz,” and “Let summer get to your head,” Cann encapsulates the emotions around swapping alcohol for cannabis in a lighthearted way. Instead of focusing on the benefits or harms of one substance over another, Cann embraces the idea of cannabis as a different, alcohol-free kind of buzz.

Cann set a standard for other infused drink brands, and you can’t compete where you don’t compare. In other words, develop a brand story that hooks your audience and makes them want to come back to you—and only you—every time.

Find a niche

While the industry may be saturated, there are plenty of ways to use the plant. Some people use cannabis for medicinal reasons, while others may use the plant for sexual wellness and pleasure.

The industry overflows with niches. Choose one that will give you an edge with your customers and allow you to compete in a less busy sector of the market. By specializing in a specific segment, you can tap into a more targeted, likely more ready-to-buy audience.

Define a unique proposition

When you do one or two things really well, your brand becomes recognized for those things. Most people think of their unique selling proposition (USP) as the one thing that makes their brand stand out from competitors in the market.

However, I encourage you to define your USP in two ways: your core offer and your main value-add. Your core offer is usually your most popular product, the one that performs the best with your customers and that you can leverage across your brand’s platforms. In other words, which of your products gets the most buzz among your target audience? Your main value-add is a point of differentiation. It might be customer service, the online ordering experience, a social media community, or something else. This is the one aspect you should develop consistently.

When you can pick one or two things to focus on and improve, you can say with confidence you have best-in-class “X” and attract people accordingly. For many brands, this tends to be education or budtender training, but the world is your oyster. As a product-based brand, customer service and online ordering also are incredibly important to customers.

Regardless of what you choose, you can tend to that aspect of your business consistently until it’s objectively superior to that of your competitors. In the end, you’ll have a USP that revolves around a product and a core value that together drive your brand identity: premium flower with superior customer service, high-end CBD with a tight-knit online community, gourmet edibles with seamless online ordering… You get the idea.

Work smarter, not harder

Everyone is hustling to be noticed. Work smarter to expand your reach and give your brand a solid footing by getting creative.

For example, if your brand specializes in recreational edibles, consider partnering with a food brand that pairs well with your offer. Or perhaps you can team up with a food influencer or well-known chef. Similar creativity can be employed to tap into other audiences, such as through influencer marketing or ad placement in popular entertainment like music videos, Netflix shows, and more.

As the industry continues to boom, advertising and marketing will go well beyond your traditional channels. Think bigger and get creative to create campaigns and experiences that hook your audience on your brand before they even become aware of your competitors.

Think of your favorite cannabis brands. They likely are as sophisticated in their brand strategy as they are competent at their product offers. In order to make your brand stand out, you must invest heavily in brand strategy. From your positioning and messaging to your visual identity and more, branding is a major part of your business.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of surviving in a crowded industry, know the industry is still growing—and there is room for you to thrive if you approach marketing right. Take it one step at a time, consult a specialized marketing agency if you need to, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Dan Serard CCG Dan Serard oversees business development and strategic partnerships for marketing agency Cannabis Creative Group. With more than four years of experience in the industry, he is active in associations including the Cannabis Marketing Association, Rolling Stone Culture Council, and National Association of Cannabis Businesses. He serves on the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Marketing and Advertising Committee and co-chairs the Content and Education Committee.

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