While the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” is one of the great moral hegemons of the 20th century, no one cares. People make snap judgments entirely based on an object’s—even a person’s—packaging. It is a good thing for the social justice oriented side of you to cringe at this debacle, but the entrepreneurial side should learn from it and take packaging just as seriously as the product it holds.
It takes about seven seconds for a person to form a first impression that will inform their future decisions. Surveys indicate that about 52% of consumers would make the decision to return to a business if their product came in premium packaging. 90% of consumers keep packaging after their initial purchase and reuse it. Businesses that have invested in their packaging noticed a 30% increase in consumer interest. Almost 40% of consumers would share a photograph of the product they purchased if the packaging is interesting.
Investing in excellent packaging is good for business, and essential to the longevity of success. Here are things to keep in mind when considering your packaging options.
States require cannabis packaging to contain certain information. You need to be absolutely sure what that information entails, so check directly with your state and local governments. But the following captures what is generally expected: the brand name, product net weight, the type of product, labels including lab tested results, and special warnings.
That might seem like a lot to include, but it is certainly possible to meet these requirements while presenting your product in a sophisticated manner. The best packaging will display these essential details in a way that still catches the customer’s eye.
Competition is what makes the free market go. When multiple companies are selling the same product, the way they present that product can be the difference between the winner and loser of that purchasing battle. Think about how you want your product to be displayed; should it hang or be placed on a shelf? Will its shape be interesting but also conducive to restocking? Does it look like every other similar product, or does it deviate from the norm in a way that appeals to the customer?
While it is important to maintain functionality, packaging that offers customers an added experience once they get home and open their product is sure to leave a lasting positive impression that will very likely result in continued purchases from that customer. For example, Bloom Farms’ Highlighter vape pens come packaged in cream, black, and tan letter-pressed boxes reminiscent of the “Roaring Twenties” glamour. Before they even get to the product, customers will enjoy the experience of opening the super swank boxes encasing their product.
A lot of what makes a product’s packaging stand out is in its branding, and in the cannabis industry, branding is more important than ever. While cannabis’ bad reputation is changing as more Americans than ever before support its legalization, the word “marijuana” still connotes the image of a plastic baggy, a neon green leaf icon, and tie-dye for many who have yet to embrace or even truly investigate the culture. The way a company brands itself can affect both the company’s and the legalization movement’s success.
Branding agencies that have capitalized on the reimaging of cannabis culture have devoted themselves to developing clean, artistic, and modern typography, logos, slogans, and other visuals to professionalize their image.
For example, the marketing agency Sockeye worked with Mirth Provisions to create a brand appealing to the natural side of cannabis with dark, rustic imagery. Pentagram worked with Snoop Dog’s cannabusiness, Leafs by Snoop, to create a bright, delicate, and elegant brand one wouldn’t necessarily expect to come from the famously pot-loving rapper.
Functionality and Safety
Packaging is more than just advertising. It is also the mechanism by which a product stays away from unwanted variables that it could harm or that could harm it. For example, cannabis products should (and are often required to depending on the state or locality) place a heavy priority on protecting children from accidental ingestion. Warnings that clearly state that a product contains cannabis and should be kept from children, child resistant packaging that hinders children without preventing adults from accessing the product, and opacity blocking the product from sight until it is opened are all means by which companies make their best efforts at child safety.
Additionally, packaging is meant to protect the product itself from variables like air, light, or humidity. Of course, the type of product determines how much of these elements it can withstand, but the packaging should meet its product’s requirements to maintain the longevity of its shelf life.
Packaging must also be functional. It shouldn’t be totally impossible or too cumbersome to open, or people won’t buy it again. In an Ask Your Target Market survey, 62% of customers stated that they would not buy a product again if the packaging was not easy to open. As previously stated, most customers reuse packaging after their initial purchases; if a product’s packaging is too tedious to deal with, the company misses out on the free advertising that occurs when an old package is reused.
The signs of global warming and environmental decline are increasingly difficult to avoid, and smart businesses know that investing in the environment is an investment in their future. Not only is stewarding the environment well the right thing to do, it’s also becoming increasingly popular with consumers—75% of consumers consider corporate sustainability responsibility when making purchases. Touting plastic free, recyclable packaging are ways to make consumers feel good about choosing a product over another less sustainably packaged one.
According to a New Frontier Data report, the cannabis industry will create more than 250,000 jobs by 2020; that’s more than what the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects from utilities, government, and manufacturing jobs. As cannabis becomes legalized, the packaging industry becomes important for both companies seeking product encasement and for the creatives who have the skills to provide what these companies need. The more creative the packaging options are now, the more innovation inspired, and that’s a great thing for an economy wanting job growth and a generation desperate to find meaningful work.