Marketers Should Focus on Customer Need States, Not THC Levels

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Most cannabis marketing efforts still can be summarized with three letters: THC.

As the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels long have been presented as the definitive calling card for a given item or strain. For proof, simply step into a dispensary or browse a delivery service’s menu online. In only an instant, you’ll spot a sea of labels and branding eagerly proclaiming the potency of the products.


In today’s industry, however, terpenes, minor cannabinoids, and other vital components of the plant also have entered the conversation. Thanks to a wealth of new scientific research, we now know specific combinations of these compounds can offer targeted relief to those managing a host of health and wellness challenges.

We’ve also learned THC alone is not a reliable indicator of a product’s potency, nor can THC potency portend how a consumer will experience their high. In a market saturated with first-time customers, we must strive to make the experience of selecting cannabis products as comfortable and safe as possible.

Whether they seek a better night’s sleep, pain relief, help managing stress, or an increase in libido, market trends suggest consumers are shopping with particular needs in mind. Marketing your products from a need-state perspective is a topical strategy that can provide increased brand awareness, a loyal customer base, and sturdy roots for a company looking to stay the course in a volatile industry.

With shelf space at a premium, this highly competitive market is filled with companies going all in on THC. Why be another face in the crowd when you could be one of the select few to offer products that target specific ailments and needs?

To stand out from the competition, here are a few key points to keep in mind.

Position your products in the familiar language of health and wellness stores

Product literacy is a crucial component of successfully marketing a brand. Regulations often require product labels include a litany of information that could scare away potential customers if conveyed improperly. Fortunately, a helpful blueprint for what to say—and how to say it—exists in every stocked aisle of a health-and-wellness store. By positioning your products in a language your customers already know, they’ll intuitively be better prepared to shop for what’s likely to help them the most.

Ensure your product packaging clearly communicates its need-state potential

This one is easy in theory but tougher in execution. Full rebrands are a ton of work, no question, but this labor is no match for the value you can recoup by realigning product lines to emphasize need-state potential. For example, say a first-time consumer walks into their neighborhood dispensary following a rough bout of insomnia. Too nervous to ask a budtender for assistance, they scan the shelves hoping to find an obvious solution for a good night’s rest. That’s where a product suggesting its benefit as a sleep aid comes into play.

Sure to catch a customer’s eye, communicating need-state benefits can give products an enviable advantage on dispensary shelves. That said, be very careful with the benefit claims you make and where you make them. Most legal states make very clear which claims you can make and how—if at all.

Never miss an opportunity to educate customers

The seemingly constant arrival of new state-legal markets is a golden reminder always to center education in your marketing efforts. Beyond ensuring potential first-time consumers feel comfortable with your products, there are numerous other consumer markets to keep in mind, as well. Whether you’re targeting patients interested in only medical-focused offerings or agnostic consumers without brand loyalty, tailoring messages and creative marketing approaches to specific audiences will help you engage with a fuller breadth of potential customers.

As part of this strategy, consider infusing educational offerings wherever possible. By doing so, you will help plant the seeds for an informed public capable of personalizing their shopping experience for maximum benefit.

Ryan-Crandall-MariMed Inc HeadshotRyan Crandall is chief revenue officer at MariMed Inc. Crandall oversees all revenue generation, marketing, product development, and distribution for the company. Under his leadership, MariMed has expanded the distribution network for its house of award-winning brands to seven states and Puerto Rico. He also is the co-creator of Betty’s Eddies, which MariMed acquired before Crandall joined the company in 2018.

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