By July of 2019, 11 states and the District of Columbia had legalized cannabis for recreational use. In the 2020 election, voters in four more states approved recreational legalization, bringing the total to 15 states. According to 2019 U.S. Census estimates, more than 110 million Americans now live in a state that has legalized marijuana.
The rapid build-up of new dispensaries and online cannabis retailers has created a high demand for product packaging that combines security, safety, and aesthetics. Fortune Business Insights noted the global consumption of cannabis was $10.6 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD $97.3 Billion by 2026.
Cannabis Packaging: More than Meets the Eye
Packaging and selling cannabis involves much more than simply putting the product in a box and calling it good, however. First, since cannabis containing THC is a narcotic, there are strict rules and guidelines in place mandating child-resistant packaging. Secondly, with so many producers jumping into the legal marijuana market, it is imperative for packaging to stand out and be a difference-maker.
Below are some factors to keep in mind when considering cannabis packaging:
Safety and compliance come first. Cannabis packaging laws vary greatly from state-to-state. And an innocent mistake that could cost your company money or even threaten its license by making sure your packaging conforms to local laws. Some online resources, such as marijuanapackaginglaws.com can give you an in-depth state-by-state look into cannabis packaging laws.
Green sells. No, not just the green leafy substance itself. Many cannabis consumers tend to have a strong environmental ethos, and much marijuana packaging stress elements such as “organic” or “raw.” This is often reflected in the packaging colors chosen, with an emphasis on earthy colors such as muted greens and browns. Brands hoping to elevate their cannabis packaging should think about investing in sustainable packaging solutions.
Focus on health. In many states, medical marijuana became legal before recreational use. Sticking with wellness and holistic medicine themes can be effective even with recreational customers. Brands can tap into the medicinal properties of their products and use medical or pharmaceutical symbols and colors, adding legitimacy and appeal to their product.
Don’t be afraid to be edgy. Since cannabis was an illegal, “counterculture” substance for much of American history, it can be effective to playfully hint at the product’s edgy origins by incorporating iconic imagery like the five-cornered pot leaf and other symbols from the plant’s past.
Think about shape and texture. Researchers are finding that there is a bigger connection between consumer habits and texture than previously believed. If packaging looks intimidating or difficult to open, people are less likely to use it. Design your packaging to fit the human hand, use visual clues, and make sure it is easy to open.
Cannabis Packaging that Stands Out
While the cannabis market is a brave new world, the tried-and-true guidelines of good packaging design remain relevant. To make your product stand out from the competition, it must be unique, eye-catching and informative. Your packaging choices should be appealing to the eye and to the hand.
Because cannabis–sold at dispensaries–is a behind-the-counter product, it’s more important than ever to have powerfully focused package design.
Finally, because of its popularity with younger consumers, cannabis packaging should lean hard into the “craft” and “authentic” movement. Make sure your design reflects these sensibilities and has a distinct, genuine identity.