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Retail Marketing for Cannabis Goes Mainstream in U.S.

As the sale and use of cannabis becomes more common and accepted, producers and manufacturers are embracing mainstream marketing strategies and tactics to reach potential customers. This trend has already had implications for print marketers like Vomela.

Cannabis refers to the non-hallucinatory compounds in the marijuana plant, called cannabinoids. Why is the market for cannabis growing so rapidly? The reason is two-fold. First, the majority of states (37 and counting) have legalized its sale. Second, Americans are quickly proving the drug useful. Users say cannabis relieves symptoms from a variety of illnesses and conditions. The drug reportedly helps relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s, ALS, HIV/AIDS, Cron’s disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, Multiple Sclerosis, severe nausea and chronic pain. 

The hallucinatory compound in the marijuana plant is called THC, which is now legal in 18 states. Although legalization of TCH products is growing more slowly than that of cannabis, marketers (in states where THC sales are legal) are also engaging in more comprehensive promotions and branding strategies.


Growth in manufacturing and sales is skyrocketing

The statistics around growth of cannabis products alone (not including THC) are phenomenal. The industry employs 243,000 people, is prescribed to at least 4 million Americans, and 43% of Americans use cannabis without a prescription. In 2021, legal sales hit $25 billion. They are expected to reach $84 billion by 2026.

cannabis graph-1

Advertising spending alone for cannabis sales are expected to

more than double by 2028 to $3.4 billion.


Because of this growth among the states, Congress is debating several bills which would make cannabis legal at the federal level. At the least, the federal government is expected to pass legislation around commercial banking and insurance related to the cannabis industry. These regulations would open cannabis sellers to being listed on stock exchanges and allow for federal taxation on cannabis income.

The industry sells cannabis (and THC in states where both are legal) in a variety of forms: concentrates, flowers, vape pens and cartridges, pre-rolls, edibles, beverages, tinctures, topicals and other product variations.

In this fast-paced and evolving industry in the U.S., growers and manufacturers are working with print marketers who can help them develop their brands, handle scale, and preserve the integrity of their products via innovative packaging solutions.


The rush for market share drives marketing and sales

With growth comes competition. To gain market share, companies are adding branding and marketing strategies to the selling process. Meanwhile, multi-state operators are scooping up local and regional growers and producers and developing national brands that can be marketed more efficiently.

As the industry becomes more mainstream, and the players become more corporate, cannabis companies are dealing with state regulatory adherence, supply chain complexities and logistics. At the same time, marketing executives are refining branding, retailing, and consumer education via communications including in-store displays, packaging, wayfinding, privacy films, wall and floor graphics and signage. Trade show displays and exhibits are in demand, too.


Vomela providing solutions for U.S. sales

As legalization accelerates in the U.S., Vomela, is establishing relationships with cannabis manufacturers.

Vomela found that many U.S. manufacturers who had originally imported print and packaging solutions from China, now wanted domestic solutions that negated overseas supply chain disruptions and freight costs. Given its national network of print facilities, Vomela has already become an industry leader in the space—offering better response, better security through regional printing, larger capacity, and disaster recovery, all at competitive prices.

Further, as cannabis manufacturers grow in sophistication, they no longer seek to work with order takers, but rather, print consultants who can solve problems through print engineering. For one client, Vomela was asked to change the packaging paper, coating, and shape to hold all the product parts more securely than previous packaging.

cannabis packaging-1The industry is now asking for the range of marketing solutions, including point of purchase, store displays, and signage. Manufacturers want print, in-store and other solutions that preserve the integrity of their products and promote their brands. “For example, packaging to reflect high-end branding may call for special laminates and foil stamping,” says Steve Lemm, senior account director of the Vomela cannabis initiative. “With our range of locations and capabilities, we can offer the solutions and innovations they are looking for, and the scale they demand.”

Evidence of the rapid growth of the industry is evident in Vomela’s numbers alone. “In just a year, we’ve expanded to working with eight manufacturers on 15 to 20 packaging solutions,” says Jeff Duncan, who is also a senior account director working on the cannabis initiative. “Our affiliates can handle everything from in-store graphic and printing needs, to product packaging and trade show exhibits and displays. We can do it all.”

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