CA: Marketers Have High Hopes For Legal Cannabis

Photo Credit: Robyn Beck

Los Angeles has long been the epicenter of branded events. Predictable weather and celebrity residents are some of the reasons marketers are acivating brands in the City of Angels. California also happens to be one of the few states that have legalized cannabis in 2018.

Brands are always looking to push the envelope in terms of entertaining and we may be reaching a point where cannabis will start taking center stage in the conversation. Marketers can expect the below trends to start affecting their events in the Golden State for years to come.

1. Old stigmas will fall by the wayside

“Although it’s available for legal purchase by 20% of the US adult population, cannabis still carries a stigma that the average corporate event planner… may choose to avoid,” says Adrian Sedlin, founder of CANNDESCENT, a California cultivator of ultra-premium flower. “Quite simply… cannabis may feel too avant-garde for the host.  As such, cannabis will only be found at the most progressive of these invitation-only events. Think art opening or a Grammys party.” He also believes that existing venues like outdoor concerts without cannabis offerings will quickly look to add a cannabis revenue stream.  “Cannabis is green, and there’s money to be made,” he concludes.

Perceptions of cannabis culture are changing as the industry becomes more systemized. Lindsay White of Acme Elixirs pulls back the curtain on what it looks like to imbibe at branded affairs in 2018.  “Sampling at events gives the industry a much classier, cleaner approach – no one is passing around bongs or sharing joints. They’re sampling pre-packaged chews, using alcohol wipes to clean up, things like that. There is order and class to it.”

2. Fashion and music will pave the way

Bert Culha, partner at Field explains that the demand had been there even before 2018. “The music and fashion industry are generally the most interested in offering cannabis product options at their [corporate] events,” he explains. His brand has already been hired by many household names in both industries and Field has been experiencing a palpable increase in interest for “The Field Bar,” a branded area at an event where buds are displayed in elegant glass vessels along with other contraptions like disposable vape pens.

3. Event hospitality will be taken one step further

For years, branded events have been aflush with perks for attendees, generous gift bags, free beauty services and even wildcard offerings like complimentary onsite tattoos on some occasions. The cannabis industry has been hard at work diversifying the types of products they offer consumers. These now include beauty, health and wellness products. As a result, the types of perks typically associated with brand activations will now benefit from the legalization and rise in popularity of cannabis.

“We can set up a beauty bar at an event just like any other beauty brand. We can give massages and facials and let people sample the products as they choose,” says Melissa Christensen of Cannabliss, who offers products like organic hemp salve and body oils.

Before deciding if entertaining with cannabis is right for a specific brand, marketers will first need to assess how progressive their client is. Next, they should consider how their target consumer will perceive the move. If both answers seem favorable, it may be time for your brand to consider a new type of entertaining.