May 24, 2016 8:50 AM

Weed Industry Demands Rebranding

After recreational pot has been legalized in four states and the District of Columbia, and about two dozen states made medicinal weed use legal, it is now time to rebrand marijuana.

Although the industry is expected to get about $44 billion in sales by 2020, it is not so easy to find an advertiser that would agree to collaborate with pot business. The trick is not just in making marijuana consumption legal; it is also important to change the public's negative perception of the product. Advertisers simply do not want to risk due to pot's murky status.

However, marketers may change their opinion if they see what they are missing. At least, that is what High Times magazine and advertising firm Sparks & Honey are counting on.

The most popular magazine about cannabis culture made a press release about a report they are going to publish with Sparks & Honey. It will reveal in detail "the behavior, motivations and cultural influence of the cannabis consumer." In other words, they want to analyze the stereotype that describes a marijuana user as a junk-food-addicted loser. Unfortunately, this image was used in so many movies that people cannot even imagine that a person who consumes marijuana can be pretty much anyone.

Larry Linietsky, chief operating officer of High Times, said that people who had no contact with marijuana industry could not even imagine that any person around them could be a weed user. It could be your neighbor, the teacher in your children's college class, it could be the guy next to you at the gym, it could even be your spouse.

It means that the target audience of marijuana advertisement is much wider than the marketers might think. So far, most ads in High Times promote marijuana-linked TV shows or movies. Spending money on other products is still considered risky, though other products such as tobacco and alcohol do not have this kind of problems.

Marijuana has benefits: it is organic, it is locally grown, it has medicinal features, and it is popular. High Times is sure that advertisers will only gain if they start collaborating with the pot industry. They are very ambitious about the issue: together with Sparks & Honey, they believe that it is now time to rebrand marijuana in order to change the perception of what it is and how it affects the world around us.

However, this is not exactly breaking news; some marijuana companies have already started to promote their products similarly to the way it is done in wine and beer industries. A large role in weed image rebranding is played by celebrities that participate in the pot business. Such celebs as Snoop Dogg, Whoopie Goldberg, comic Tommy Chong, Melissa Etheridge, and many others have become entrepreneurs making their own marijuana products and supporting their launches with very positive and attractive ad companies.

Linietsky states that cannabis can easily become one of the most demanded products in today's market. Recreational marijuana allows people to relax and release their mind from all the problems that appear in this high-anxiety, high-strung world every day.

Further weed legalization can encourage advertisers to start collaborating with the pot industry, and hopefully, more and more cities, counties, and states will start considering the possibility of pot legalization.

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