Starting a Business / Marketing Strategies

5 Questions to Ask Before Picking Your Packaging

Cannabis packaging comes with its own unique set of challenges and regulations. Make sure you know the facts before getting overly creative.
5 Questions to Ask Before Picking Your Packaging
Image credit: AHPhotoswpg | Getty Images
6 min read
Brought to you by Marijuana Retail Report

In retail, brand recognition is everything, and in many retail industries, manufacturers have carte blanche to package their products in any way they see fit and perceive attractive to the customer.

This isn’t the case for cannabis packaging, which has regulations regarding what can and absolutely cannot appear in a cannabis product package.

If your cannabis product is in the launch phase, coming down to that crucial part of packaging, here are 5 questions to ask your brand before signing off on any product packaging deals:

Related: New Customers Drive Innovation in Legal Marijuana Products

1. Is it compliant?

Compliance with your packaging is first and foremost what you should consider. While you may feel creatively inspired to produce packaging that will wow any consumer, you simply just can’t go too far out of the realm of regulation. Depending on your state, there are important restrictions on colors used, use of characters appealing to children, and requirements for child-proof and tamper-proof packaging.

While there is quite a bit of creativity to be had in cannabis packaging, and the U.S. industry is quite liberal (take Canada’s approach to zero creativity packaging for example), products will always be checked for packaging compliance before being able to hit the shelves.

Labeling compliance that includes the Primary Panel and the Information Panel is of equal importance and must be tackled concurrently with packaging compliance to produce retail-worthy cannabis products.

2. Does its design hit our target market? 

While it’s definitely a no-no to produce packaging that could appeal to minors, the adult-targeted packaging is where creative freedom reigns.

Take Whoopi & Maya for example, creating a line of products specific to the needs of women’s health. Their packaging is based on subdued color, with labeling and packaging that is smooth, consistent, and the colors used on each product name bring on the essence of the product’s intended effects, making it attractive to women looking for medicinal relief that is unique to their specific needs.

Lord Jones is another popular brand that defines sophistication with packaging any adult who puts design at high importance and who would be proud to display in their (kid-free) spaces, especially their topical products. The design is reminiscent of old Victorian style with products that look as good as any high-class cosmetic or topical product on the regular cosmetic and beauty care market. Their products look perfect on the nightstand or vanity of the woman who loves good products and taking good care of herself.

Use creativity and get to know the nuances of design, patterns, and color that draw people into particular products because of their packaging.

Related: 10 Cannabis Startups You Need to Watch

3. Is it tasteful and truly out of the realm of appealing to minors? 

Another important feature of packaging is distinguishing between medical and recreational use. Unfortunately, when you see some products that are on the market, their packaging and overall branding is reminiscent of old stoner culture, or the products you would see if you were visiting Amsterdam ten years ago.

If you’re doing a recreational cannabis product package, don’t go the way of tacky, and stay away from imagery that throws shade on the professionalism of the cannabis industry. Instead, opt for clean packaging, clean labeling, and double and triple consider the way your brand does or does not appeal to minors.

Stay away from neon colors, stoner culture imagery, or patterns that seemingly make the advancement in cannabis regress. Be forward thinking about what you’re presenting as your cannabis brand, and lead the way in packaging with ultimate tastefulness and sophistication.

4. Do you need to bring in the experts? 

Don’t let your product get lost in a sea of green, and anyone tackling the issue of their product packaging will soon find that it’s really difficult to stand out with so many well-designed packages. Cannabis packaging has become so sophisticated that photographers and graphic designers are now wholly dedicating their careers to upping the ante on how a cannabis brand looks via their packaging.

The days of handmade, computer printed labels are long over in the professional cannabis retail space. Consider hiring a professional cannabis packaging designer who knows what’s already out there, and is poised to help your brand stand out, and their name stands out in the design world. Some brand designers creating buzz include Wick & Mortar and Courtney Zalewski of Los Angeles and NYC.

5. Does the packaging make logical sense for the product? 

Here’s where you want to get into consumer behavior a bit. We all know that people get enticed by packaging, and the size of packages can really get into their psychology. For example, take concentrates. Long-time cannabis concentrate users may be intrigued by tiny packaging of a concentrate that packs some serious punch, but those who are new to concentrates may think “that’s it?” when picking up a small product.

Packaging your concentrates in a way that they’re hardly visible on the shelf doesn’t make much sense for sales, but at the same time, you don’t want to be like a disappointing bag of chips with oversized packaging for concentrates. Try a few different package sizes to see what makes the best sense for your product, and keep convenience and easy storage in mind as a selling feature for your customer.

Related: Why Your Cannabis Business Is Failing, and How You Can Fix It

Be smart, be creative, be innovative. 

Packaging is both an art and science, due to the need to produce a cannabis product packaged in line with state requirements, and using art, design, and color in a way that gets the point of the product across to the right audience.

Don’t take your cannabis brand’s packaging lightly, keeping compliance top of mind, while considering the measures you’ll need to take for design resources to make your product stand out amongst the others on the shelves of dispensaries.

By Javier Hasse
From retailers to growers, producers, and suppliers, there’s a seemingly never-ending list of startup opportunities in this emerging market. In Start Your Own Cannabis Business, marijuana, biotech, and entrepreneurship reporter Javier Hasse introduces forward-thinking entrepreneurs like you to the industry and shares hard-earned tips and success stories from pioneers and visionaries in the marijuana industry.
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