What is Luxury Cannabis?

By Kyle Swartz

September 1, 2017

As the growing legal cannabis market establishes itself, there will be greater opportunities for branding, including for luxury. Like the difference between cheap whiskey and WhistlePig, there will emerge pot products that occupy super-premium price points and the consumer lifestyles involved.

What will these look like? How will they market? Who will buy them? These are questions that barely existed five years ago but are now pertinent as legal cannabis spreads quickly through America. Regulators and law-enforcement would do well to understand all tiers of cannabis consumers, including luxury users, to better govern this new market.

Two media groups behind a new publication called The Cannabis Brand Report focused on this topic in their inaugural issue: Branding Luxury Cannabis. Both Salar Media Group and Civilized Media Group contributed to the piece, which lays out what they foresee as the defining features of luxury cannabis.

The report argues that luxury cannabis “should be of the highest quality and consistency and it should incorporate the following: It should appeal to all of the five senses . . . as part of the branding process. It should deliver on its implied and explicit promises (such as quality, healing, sensory, taste, fun) as defined by the producer, manufacturer or dispensary.

It should make people feel happy or alleviate their pain. It will be and promote the practices of being environmentally sustainable and earth-friendly. Unlike other traditional luxury items, it should be 21st Century: It should have a larger political and social meaning and deliver on its ability to provide a new experience whether in a private or public setting.”

The report further argues that this “meaning” benefits not only the user but also the community on a local, state or national level, making the purchaser part of something bigger than themselves. “It will continue to contribute to the social and political evolution to make this a better community and environmentally sustainable environment,” the report states.

The target demo for luxury cannabis, writers of the report argue, would be a “sophisticated, professional consumer who has expendable cash and enjoys the finer things in all things. Females may also be a strong target as they tend to buy brands for the experience more so than males. They tend to appreciate packaging and design more as well as favor engagement with all of their senses which influence their decision.

In addition, luxury cannabis will probably target a more mature consumer who is prone to appreciating craftsmanship and quality versus a traditional younger recreational consumer or medical patient.”

Already there are brands tapping into this emerging subcategory. Like Canndescent of Desert Hot Springs, California.

This company charges higher prices for its plant products, which they claim break apart perfectly and do not emit a chemical odor when lit. Canndescent also relies on savvy luxury marketing, including its brand-defining Instagram feed and premium packaging. The names of its five different cannabis products connect with the emotional states that they foster when consumed: Calm, Cruise, Create, Connect and Charge.

There’s already a luxury cannabis subscription box service, and an exclusive cannabis club based out of Beverly Hills. Bethenny Frankel, the former Real Housewife-turned-successful alcohol entrepreneur, has announced Skinnygirl Marijuana, a pot strain for the health-conscious consumer: Frankel claims it does not cause munchies.

Which altogether is to say that the cannabis industry will have many socioeconomic layers to. As with most consumer products there will emerge a higher-end customer base, defined by the luxury brands they consume. Regulators and law-enforcement should not lose sight of this fact when crafting laws and rules that govern all aspects of the legal-marijuana market.

Kyle Swartz is editor of Cannabis Regulator. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com. Read his recent piece: The Future of Cannabis Parties.

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