Cannabis, now legalised in many countries and widely available to purchase, has attached to it its own distinctive lifestyle. Since its legalisation in many US states, YouTube has particularly become host to many a cool cannabis vlogger. All this raises the question of what kind of lifestyle we want for the drug of cannabis – if it is to be legalised. Do we restrict it in the way we have tobacco and alcohol, or do we let it run free, and embrace its relaxed perception?
Of course, much of this is speculation, but many big brands are already asking these questions. How do we market this new product? Who do we want to buy it? You can see why there’s a rush too. Arcview Market Research, a leading authority on the cannabis industry, estimates worldwide spending on legal cannabis will hit $57 billion by 2027. Recruiting firms have already placed marketing executives at cannabis companies from giants such as Coca-Cola and Krafts.
Amanda Guerrero is the business development manager at Vangst. She gives an insight into just what makes the new product of cannabis so appealing to hopeful marketers, and as to what lifestyle these marketers will want to push. According to her, ‘Cannabis is sexy, cannabis is cool’. ‘Marketers are attracted to the space because they have the opportunity to market to a more open-minded, neutral audience.’
Are these, then, the two cornerstones of the new cannabis lifestyle, being “open-minded” and “neutral”? The fact that these terms are used to describe people who want to buy this drug, still illegal in most countries, is likely to reflect public opinion. The strength of this public opinion is made more clear by marketing tactics. Many cannabis companies are turning to social media “influencers” to promote their brand, though there are some who do not wish to promote such brands.
The CEO and Founder of influencer agency Heartbeat, Brian Freeman, commented that ‘There’s a lot of confusion that’s blocking influencers from getting on board’. ‘They are scared of legal ramifications, and they don’t want YouTube to shut them down.’ There are certainly legal frameworks to navigate. Currently, Facebook, Snapchat and Google don’t allow cannabis advertising. Snapchat will consider products derived from cannabis on a case-by-case basis, but that’s all. Earlier this year, YouTube systematically shut down many cannabis-centred channels, regardless of how popular they were, leaving many wondering what changed their rules of content and why.
Many influencers, scared by this and the potential reaction to those not supportive of a “cannabis lifestyle”, currently don’t wish to promote these products. ‘I don’t care about skipping out on some money if it means saving my account’, said one anonymous influencer with nearly 200,000 followers. Another said, ‘My followers are just not ready to support these kinds of products yet’. However, whole agencies are evidently supportive of this lifestyle, and Mr Freeman explains just why they are: ‘There’s this emerging culture around the recreational use of marijuana from the greater consumer base’. He continued by explaining that ‘It’s changing the look and the perception of who the marijuana buyer is.’
It seems then, that as more people consume cannabis, marketers are keen to adapt to their lifestyles. The drug is not just becoming legal in many US states, it has proven popular in many circles and, ultimately, shows no signs of losing this public favourability.