In the old days, reputation was everything in the world of cannabis. Without the benefit of government regulation, internet searches, or scientific research, trust played an outsized role in the process. These days, fortunately, such leaps of faith no longer are required thanks to the advent of state-legal markets.
Today, many brands understandably have staked their claim to a piece of the market through roots based on heritage and culture. From formerly underground empires gone legit to those whose claims to plant medicine extend back thousands of years, the instinct to make your brand stand out is wise in a marketplace seemingly always flush with fresh competition.
Beyond the obvious benefits of showcasing a proven track record in a crowded field, the specifics of a brand’s ties to culture and heritage also offer a direct bridge to connecting with customers and belief systems. Be it the seasoned expertise of a veteran green thumb now cultivating for the masses or a brand built around uplifting specific social justice causes, there’s immense value in knowing what makes your company unique and showcasing that uniqueness at every turn.
In addition to keeping a close ear on what consumers are saying, brands must ensure they maintain products of high and consistent quality. After all, 82 percent of shoppers want a brand’s values to align with their own, so connecting your brand to the values tied to your heritage and culture is just as important as connecting with culture directly.
Use those values, and don’t be afraid to be authentic in your storytelling to make the connection for consumers. Tell your story the way it happened. Not all struggles or successes look the same, so don’t feel obligated to fluff up or change details for storytelling’s sake. Let your incredible truth shine through.
Here’s another reason to connect with your values: Fifty-six percent of workers say they wouldn’t even consider a job at a company where the corporate values are at odds with their own. That’s why it’s essential to share your brand’s story both externally and internally. This can encourage employees to become brand ambassadors.
Use the myriad free online tools to discuss your brand’s heritage. From websites and social media to marketing campaigns and traditional press, creating compelling media campaigns is a great way to emphasize your company’s culture while providing valuable educational materials.
Culture and heritage are indisputably important, but be sure you don’t rely too heavily on them as the only cornerstones to drive sales. Being known for a specific thing can be of foundational importance, but reputation comes with a challenge: how to elevate one’s brand to reach demographics beyond the usual suspects. Additionally, brands must ensure their cultural approach doesn’t end up pigeonholing their products or relegating them to a niche.
One remedy is to seek appropriate partnerships to continue growing. If you choose this route, be sure to find partners who share your brand’s vision and values while also looking for opportunities that will help take your brand to new markets, make critical introductions, and be a cheerleader throughout your growth.
For example, TILT Holdings has partnered with brands that center their niche, cultures, and backgrounds to bring them into new markets, including Her Highness for women, Highsman for sports enthusiasts, women-owned CODA, and Black- and woman-owned Black Buddha Cannabis.
These partnerships help each brand reach new consumers in new markets with existing retail customers and allow TILT to cast a wide but diverse net of products to bring in new consumers who want to purchase products that resonate with them.
Owing to the competitive nature of today’s cannabis marketplace, the time to magnify your brand’s name as much as possible has arrived. It’s important not to rush into haphazard plans in pursuit of this goal, though. On the contrary, the diligent work required to create a brand built on heritage and culture is worth careful consideration as you evaluate the best possible strategy.
Amy Larson is senior vice president of marketing and communications at TILT Holdings, a global provider of inhalation technologies, cultivation, manufacturing, processing, brand development, and retail. She entered the industry in 2015 as vice president of marketing for COHN Marketing. Previously, she spent more than fifteen years as a strategic communications and marketing professional for the consumer, tourism, retail, and real estate industries.