A product’s packaging is more than just a functional storage container; it plays an integral role in building a business’ brand. For cannabis businesses in particular, the impact of retail packaging has been growing in importance over the past few years as markets have become increasingly diverse and competitive.
But above all, the cannabis product industry is also unique in that there are several packaging issues to consider that are exclusive to the industry, such as conforming to constantly changing rules and regulations, designing for child safety, and providing clear labeling that helps to educate consumers about the proper usage of the product.
Designing a good package for your marijuana-based product thus requires a significant amount of consideration and research. Below are a few points to keep in mind as you begin the design process:
Before anything, do your research. Before you even try to come up with product design ideas, you need to conduct some market research. Take a look at what other brands in your market are already doing. Pay particular attention to how the business presents their cannabis product and how the brand interacts with the consumer once starts using it. Build a collection of samples and try them out for yourself. Try to also get current customers to answer a few questions about the features they like and don’t like.
Learn about the current laws and regulations. All cannabis-based businesses must follow specific packaging and labeling guidelines, yet many cannabis brands are unsure about what is needed to remain compliant. In fact, the laws and regulations change so frequently, that cannabis businesses are encouraged to print labels and product packaging in small batches.
Depending on the region you are selling in, there are numerous regulations involving certain primary labeling, such as font size, net weight and volume, milligrams of cannabinoid content, recommended dosage, and contact information. Edibles have additional requirements, such as including words like “cannabis-infused,” as well as a list of ingredients, the date of manufacture and expiration, potential allergens, and much more. Having a child-resistant solution in place is also required. If your cannabis packaging comes in containers that are so small that you can’t fit all of the required labeling, then there are other options, such as peel-back labels or hanging tags.
You need packaging that fits your specific product. As you go about designing your packaging, you need to keep in mind the needs of your particular product and the consumers who are buying it. There are currently thousands of kinds of cannabis products in the market that have many unique packaging demands. For example, if your product is oil-based, then you want packaging that is oil-resistant so that any leakage will not destroy the product’s labeling. If your product needs to stay moist, then you want packaging that will retain this moisture and perhaps be resealable for repeated use.
Think about how to make the package design child resistant. While all cannabis product packages need some child proofing, edibles and products that come in small pieces, are even more important. You can’t just childproof a primary package of cookies or a candy bar infused with THC, you also need to think about how you will childproof each individual piece of your product once the package is open.
Offer clear instructions. New cannabis consumers as well as novice users or those unfamiliar with the industry need to understand exactly how a cannabis product is intended to be used. Be sure that your packaging includes specific and clear instructions on how to responsibly consume or use your cannabis product.
Once you’ve decided on your packaging solution, it’s time to get started on the branding. Consider these three things before jumping into the design process:
Avoid the design clichés. Everyone knows what a marijuana leaf looks like, and your customers don’t need to be reminded of it. Even the ubiquitous green and brown colors will generally be a big turn off in your packaging. In order to create a strong brand identity in the market and stand out on the shelf, you need to think outside of the box in terms of your imagery and color scheme.
Watch the language. The language used in your packaging makes as much of an impact as the imagery does. In general, the term “cannabis” is more technical than other colloquial terms, such as marijuana, hemp, pot, and weed- all of which have a history attached to them that may be unpleasant to some. Sticking with technical terms and imagery will help to legitimize your brand- especially if you are offering medicinal products.
Tell your story. A lot of attention in marketing over the past few years has been focused on branded stories. Why is your product unique? What do you stand for? What is important to your company? And, how does this all relate to your customers? If you want to avoid some of the clichéd branding mentioned above, then your first job is to figure out what makes your business and your product different in a way that is relevant and relatable to your customers.
In short, as the cannabis industry continues to expand and evolve, you need to design packaging that is in line with current consumer market trends and be able to quickly accommodate regulatory changes. This means that designing your cannabis product packaging is not a one-time activity. It is an on-going process that needs to grow and adapt with your business and the people you are serving.