In the war for brand dominance in the cannabis industry, companies are trying everything under the sun to gain even the slightest of edges over their competitors. One of the most important fronts in this never-ending battle is the realm of cannabis packaging. Although they say you should never judge a book by its cover, the truth is product packaging plays a significant role in the purchasing decisions of consumers. This begs the question: how do you design cannabis packaging that makes consumers gravitate to your products?
Here are seven ways to elevate your cannabis packaging design:
#1) Keep Compliance in Mind
Before you start designing your cannabis packaging, you need to familiarize yourself with cannabis packaging laws. Every state and country where cannabis is legal has slightly different laws when it comes to cannabis packaging, and one innocent mistake may end up costing your company thousands of dollars or even its license to operate. Fortunately, there are plenty of online resources to help you along the way.
Websites like marijuanapackaginglaws.com can give you an in-depth state-by-state look into cannabis packaging laws. States like California and Massachusetts also offer online resources for packaging and labeling requirements. Some states also offer free compliance reviews. If all else fails, you can always turn to a compliance company to conduct a review of your cannabis packaging.
#2) Know Your Target Audience
Whether you’re designing cannabis packaging or something else, the most important part of the process is to know your customers inside and out. If you already have an established customer base, find out more about them. What’s their average age? Gender? Income level? What kind of lifestyle do they lead? Is it active or sedentary? The more you know about your target audience, the better able you’ll be to meet their needs.
If you don’t have an established customer base or you just want to target a new audience, then you should create a customer profile and answer those questions yourself. What does your perfect customer like to do in their spare time? What are their hopes and dreams? What are their pain points and how can you help them? Is there any reason why they wouldn’t want to use your products, and how can you change that?
By becoming intimately familiar with your target audience, you can create the perfect cannabis packaging design that will grab their attention and convert them into loyal customers.
#3) Focus on the effects and experience
If you want your cannabis packaging to capture the attention of consumers, you need to rethink how you describe your product. THC, CBD, Sativa, Indica; unless you’re a veteran cannabis user, all of these words will sound like meaningless gobbledygook. Instead of focusing on how much THC your product contains or whether it’s a Sativa or Indica strain, draw attention to the particular effect that the cannabis will have on its user.
For example, take a look at the cannabis brand dosist. The company sells a vape pen called Sleep, which has an 8:1 THC-to-CBD ratio. While consumers can read on the back of the package to find out the THC-to-CBD ratio, the packaging emphasizes that it is meant to help you sleep.
Another key point to emphasize is the flavor. No one knows what “Girl Scout Cookies” or “Green Crack” means, but if you take the time to educate your customers about terpenes and flavor, customers will have a much clearer idea of what to expect when purchasing your products.
#4) Design Packaging with the Senses in Mind
When designing eye-catching cannabis packaging, you always want to take into account the human senses. As much as people like to pretend that they are rational beings, the truth is we often base purchasing our decisions off of things like shape, color, and texture.
Color is an incredibly powerful asset. One study found that approximately 62-90 percent of consumers’ purchasing decisions are based on the color of the product’s packaging. Bearing that in mind, think about how the color of your product’s packaging fits into your overall branding and the intended function of your product. For example, if you are selling a product intended to energize your customer, you would want to use bright colors, like yellow or red, as opposed to a color like black.
Similarly, texture plays an important part in purchasing decisions. Hoping to figure out the connection between texture and consumer habits, marketing researchers once tested various food products in containers with different textures. They found that the texture of a container can alter a person’s perception of the product. For example, subjects claimed that yogurt in smooth containers tasted better than yogurt in rugger containers.
The shape of your cannabis packaging is also important. If your packaging looks intimidating or difficult to use, 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.
#5) Embrace Sustainability
The issue of sustainability is very important. Not only does the industry struggle with wasteful packaging, thanks largely to onerous regulations, but also the issue is very important to consumers. Brands hoping to elevate their cannabis packaging would do well to invest in sustainable packaging solutions.
Fortunately, there are several sustainable packaging solutions companies that service the cannabis industry.
Sana Packaging offers packaging made from hemp bioplastic. Plastic made from hemp requires significantly fewer natural resources to produce, carbon-neutral has a cellulose concentration equal to many of the leading sources of plastic (such as wood or flax), and is 100% biodegradable.
HISIERRA offers packaging solutions made from sugarcane. Like hemp, sugarcane-derived plastic is carbon neutral. While sugarcane is not biodegradable, it is recyclable and most plastics made from sugarcane comes from sugarcane waste, so its impact on the environment is greatly reduced.
One of the best renewable packaging options comes from N2 Packaging Systems. N2 uses nitrogen to hermetically seal cannabis inside metal tins. The tins are 100% recyclable, the nitrogen is a renewable resource, and the cannabis itself is actually preserved longer than other cannabis packaging options.
Regardless of which sustainable cannabis packaging solution you choose, be sure to let your customers know what you’re doing. Say it loud and proud; let everyone know that your brand is embracing sustainable business practices. This helps you distinguish yourself from your competitors and help you make inroads with environmentally conscious consumers as well.
#6) Publish Your Cannabis Testing Results
In this day and age, people want to know exactly what it is they are consuming. Cannabis is not exempt from this. While every state with legal cannabis has stringent testing regulations, not all states require brands to share those results on their product packaging. A great way to elevate your cannabis packaging is by sharing some of those test results.
You won’t be able to fit an entire lab report on your cannabis packaging design, so you will have to exercise discretion in what you share. So what results should you share? Naturally, the product’s CBD-to-THC ratio is something that consumers will want to see. You may also want to share the concentration of minor cannabinoids as well, although most consumers are still having difficulty distinguishing between CBD and THC, so that might not be for the best.
Terpene profiles are also something you may want to share on your cannabis packaging. Most consumers won’t be able to tell the difference between borneol and nerol, but the connoisseurs will and they will appreciate the extra effort on your part. Sharing the terpene profile on your cannabis packaging will help elevate and distinguish your brand as one that cares about the quality of the cannabis experience as well as the effect.
It is recommended that you do not share the results of your contaminant testing. While it is admirable that you may wish to demonstrate to your customers that your product is safe for use, most consumers won’t be able to tell you what those results mean. Instead, what will happen is that people will see the word “toxin” or “contaminant” and, regardless of whether you are compliant with the law, they will think that your products are unsafe. A general “this product complies with state contaminant testing rules,” message will suffice.
If your cannabis packaging is running out of space, and you still want to share your testing results, get creative. Publish your testing results online, and place a QR that leads to the results on the packaging design. Most people these days have smartphones and will be curious to see what your results say.
#7) Ask the Experts
When it comes to compliance, the devil is in the details. It is one thing to know that you should design your cannabis packaging to stimulate the sense or that you should know your target audience, but those can seem like empty words if you don’t know a single thing about branding or design. Even if you do know a thing or two about branding, sometimes it’s best to ask for a second opinion. If you’re having trouble coming up with brilliant cannabis packaging designs or you find yourself beset with doubt, your best bet is to turn to an expert for help. At Wick & Mortar, we often find ourselves with clients that have great branding ideas but just need a little help to get the final product across the finish line. That is why we employ a tight-knit team of creative experts to create compelling visual identities for cannabis brands. If you’re thinking about hiring a cannabis consultant, here are a few things to take into account.
Regardless of whether you choose to go it alone get a little help from experts, like Wick & Mortar, as long as you keep these design elements in mind, there’s no reason why you can’t elevate your cannabis packaging design.