Cannabis Packaging: How to Make Your Pot Pop

One of the most essential aspects of a cannabis brand is how you package your product. Although the quality and composition of the products you sell are important, cannabis packaging represents the moment of first contact between your brand and your potential customers; and as such, it is vital that you design a package that is both eye-catching and pleasing to use.

In the cannabis industry, this can be a little more difficult than most other industries. Regardless of whether you operate in Canada or the U.S., strict packaging requirements will limit what you can and cannot have on your cannabis products; and designing something that is both eye-catching and legal can try even the most talented of designers.

However, with a little creativity, you too can design cannabis packaging that stands out and is fully compliant with regulations. Here’s how:

Things to Consider

Before you go off and start designing for your cannabis brand, you need to consider several elements that will be key to helping come up with the perfect cannabis packaging. Specifically, five things need to be taken into account, which is as followed:

Who is Your Audience?

First, you need to consider who you are trying to sell your products to. Are they men or women? Young or old? Wealthy or price sensitive? By figuring out who your target demographic is, you can then start to figure out how to sell to them.

For example, if your target audience is Baby Boomers trying cannabis for the first time, you may want to try and design packaging that is more sophisticated; something that elevates the importance of the activity. If your target audience is price sensitive Millennials, on the other hand, you may want to go for a design that is minimalistic and showcases the product’s functionality.

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Think about your ideal customer and get as specific as possible. When forming the idea of your ideal customers, consider things like age, gender, marital status, income, lifestyle, location, etc.; the more specific you can get, the better. By zeroing in on the ideal customer, you can design packaging that connects with them and lets them know that your brand aligns with their brand and identity.

What is Your Brand?

How you present your brand will have a significant impact on who your ideal customer is. A brand is the summation of every experience your customer has had with your company. From the values you hold to the products you provide; your brand will touch every aspect of your business, so think hard about how your packaging will play a role in that brand.

If your brand was trying to appeal to middle-aged businesswoman, how would you design your packaging? Would it be loud and in your face, with a giant cannabis leaf on the label? Or would you create something the is discrete and elegant, while still clearly displaying the benefits of the product?

By aligning your brand with your ideal audience, you help establish trust. When you build trust, your perfect customer is more likely to purchase your products, and they’re more likely to develop loyalty to your brand.

What is Your Product’s Function?

A key thing to consider when designing your cannabis brand’s packaging is the product itself. Are you selling flower or are you selling concentrate? Are you selling a pipe or are you selling a vaporizer? The function of the product you are selling will factor heavily into the packaging design.

To use an extreme example, if you were selling knives would you put them in flimsy plastic bags that could slide everywhere? Of course not, that would be unsafe and impractical. Much in the same way, you need to think about the purpose of your cannabis products.

When designing cannabis packaging, you have to think about more than merely covering up your product, think about the experience your customer will have when opening it. If you’re selling a cannabis concentrate, maybe you design a tool or graphic that helps determine dosage to go along with the packaging. Or if you’re selling cannabis flower, maybe you develop a resealable child-proof container.

If you design a great package that delivers a great experience, your customers will be that much more likely to purchase from you again.

What are the Regulations?

The downside of working within the cannabis industry is that packaging and labeling requirements will vary from region to region. What’s legal in California will not necessarily be legal in Oregon or Canada. If you want to keep your customers and your business, you will need to design cannabis packaging that is compliant with your region’s regulations.

Although cannabis regulations vary from region to region, some packaging and labeling requirements will remain consistent wherever you go. For example, you can safely assume that your packaging must be child-proof. You probably won’t be able to use cartoon characters on the label or make any bold health-related promises (i.e., this will cure disease).  

More often than naught, you should be able to find your area’s cannabis packaging regulations online. If you can’t find them online, reach out to the whichever regulatory body governs your local cannabis market. NEVER go to market with packaging that you are not 100% sure is compliant. 

How Will You Measure Results?

Regardless of what you do in business, you should always have a system in place to track your results.  Before you design your packaging, consider what kinds of metrics you will use to determine what success means for you.

A simple way to measure your results is to track revenue. Comparing your previous income to your current income will help determine your sales volume and, depending on whether you see an increase or decrease, can help you gauge the success of your branding efforts.

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Other useful metrics to keep an eye on include customer loyalty and brand awareness. Maybe you don’t see an increase in sales with your new packaging, but customer retention is through the roof. Or perhaps more people are talking about your brand on social media. Be mindful of these indicators and you should be able to determine the success of your branding and packaging efforts.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Key Elements to Consider for Cannabis Packaging

In addition to things like regulations or your target audience, you should also consider the science that goes into packaging. As previously stated, how a package is presented and how it makes you feel have a considerable effect on whether or not you make a purchase. In general, there are five key factors to consider when designing your cannabis packaging. Those factors are as followed:

  • Color – Color can have an incredibly powerful effect on how a person perceives an object. When making a purchasing decision, most people first rely on sight and then move on to other factors. As you design your cannabis packaging, consider what message you and your brand want to convey using color. Blue is often associated with serenity and trust, while red is associated with passion and excitement. Green is typically associated with health and nature. Find the colors that align with your branding and implement them into your packaging appropriately.
  • Texture – Humans don’t just see the world, they also touch it. When a prospective customer holds your product, you want it to be a pleasant experience. By creating a pleasant textural experience, you can help develop a sense of ownership within in your customers, which in turn can help drive purchasing decisions. Think about what kind of texture would align with your brand. If you have an artisanal cannabis brand, maybe you want packaging that feels a little rough; which gives your product a rustic and hand-made feeling. If you’re selling a luxury product, perhaps you want to create packing with a silky gloss.
  • Shape – Like color, the shape of your packaging will have a significant effect on how people will visually perceive your product. Anyone that has ever taken a basic marketing or psychology class has probably heard about how Coca-Cola supposedly designs their bottles to have a quasi-feminine shape to encourage sales. While you may not need to stoop to invoking Freudian-like emotions in your potential customers, it is important to take into account the shape of your packaging. Look for shapes that are different, visually pleasing, and (most importantly) in line with the underlying message of your company’s brand.
  • Sound – Take a moment and think about someone running their nails over a chalkboard. Even though you don’t actually hear it, the thought of the sound still makes you cringe a little, doesn’t it? Sound plays a significant role in how we perceive the world, and when you design packaging for your cannabis brand you need to think about the sound it makes when you open it. Is there a crinkle when you open it or is there a smooth scraping sound? Although the sound is something that a lot of people won’t notice off the bat, their brain will; and if you design a package that does not sound pleasant when you open it, people will subconsciously pick up on it.
  • Odor – One of the most important, yet often forgotten aspect of product packaging is its smell. There’s a reason why people love the smell of an old book or the air after a rainstorm. Smell is important, even if you don’t realize it. When picking materials for your cannabis packaging, think about how it is going to smell when someone picks it up. Do they smell the product, or do they smell the packaging? If it’s the latter, what kind of scent does it give off? While you don’t have to design a custom fragrance for your brand packaging, make sure that the package does not give off an unpleasant odor and that it does not conflict with your brand.

Even in the best of circumstances, design is difficult. But you don’t need to be a degree from a million-dollar design school to come up with packaging that will make your cannabis products stand out from the crowd. If you know your brand, know your audience, and follow the advice given here today; you should have no problem designing cannabis packaging that pops.