The cannabis packaging market has undergone significant growth, and various companies in many segments have recently launched recyclable packaging — such as metal cans, compostable cellophane bags and compostable pouches. Product marketing through packaging should be a focus, but meeting local and federal laws is critical for success.
According to Research and Markets (researchandmarkets.com), the cannabis packaging market in North America alone is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.40 percent until 2021, reaching $8900 million in 2021. Legalization is bringing new users to the market. As well, the popularity of alternative ingestion techniques, such as topical sprays and edibles, are fueling the market’s growth.
Cannabis can be seen infiltrating markets from pharmaceutical, beverage and food to personal care. Now more than ever, brands should look at premium packaging and unique flavor combinations for drinks and foods. The following are some recent launches for cannabis-infused products.
Beauty, Brawn and Easy
BLOOM FARMS (getbloomfarms.com) has come out with Rose Gold, a vapor pen with fine details that elevate it to a high-gloss fashion accessory. The premium all-natural CBD oil makes it more than just a thing of beauty.
Beyond the luxurious metallic finish, Rose Gold features a metal mouthpiece, filigree accents, leaf-shaped LEDs and an updated stylus.
With a newly designed battery and embedded ceramic element, Rose Gold is optimized to evenly heat oil and deliver consistent potency and flavor. Out of the box, Rose Gold offers convenient and safe relaxation with breath-activation, inhale shut-off and an FDA-grade BPA-free cartridge.
Sustainably farmed and responsibly made, the products are designed around the mantra: relaxation, relief, creativity and fun.
BLOOM FARMS also carries organic CBD tinctures in varying THC levels. All of the hemp for the tinctures is grown in the U.S.
The oils are packaged in a cloth bag inside of a paperboard carton with gold and silver lettering for a high-end look.
Packaging with Reclaimed Ocean Plastic
Sana Packaging (sanapackaging.com) is a startup that designs and develops sustainable and compliant packaging solutions for the cannabis market. Its newest venture is a partnership with Oceanworks — and a new line of reclaimed ocean plastic cannabis packaging.
Oceanworks partners with collection and processing agents around the world to bring trusted sources of ocean plastic materials to consumers eager to use their purchasing power to make a difference.
“Among other reasons, Sana partnered with Oceanworks because the company saw an opportunity to address the global plastic problem and have a positive impact on the environment,” says James Eichner, co-founder of Sana Packaging.
“Plant-based hemp plastic will remain our core focus because long-term, bio-based materials are what we need to be moving towards. We can’t be using virgin petroleum-based resins for single-use products like packaging, it just doesn’t make any sense,” he adds.
Sana Packaging’s flagship product line is made from 100 percent plant-based and chemical-free hemp plastic. The first reclaimed ocean plastic products to launch are the 110 mm Sana Tube, the 70 mm Sana Tube and the 27.5 dram Sana Container.
Moving a Saturated Market
The makers of Budweiser, Coors and other large- and small-scale brewers are placing their bets on cannabis as a way to fight saturated markets and shifting consumer trends. And what better way to attract new consumers?
Province Brands of Canada, an early-stage premium adult beverage company, has a patent-pending process used to create the world’s first beer brewed from the cannabis plant. Its first beer, Cambridge Bay Imperial Pilsner, is brewed from hemp and contains alcohol; while its cannabis-derived beer, which is alcohol-free, will be introduced when Canada permits cannabis edibles and beverages later this year.
“We’re starting with a 7 percent ABV Imperial Pilsner, but this process is so versatile, we can make any style of beer from hemp or marijuana: alcoholic, non-alcoholic, lager, ale, stout, IPA, bock, porter … anything,” said Rob Kevwitch, Ph.D., Province Brands’ master brewer.
Cambridge Bay is brewed by mashing and fermenting the stalks, stems and roots of premium, food-grade hemp. It has just four ingredients: water, hemp, hops and brewer’s yeast. No grains, adjunct, sugar or alcohol are added, and all of the alcohol in the beer comes from the fermentation of the cannabis (hemp) plant.
Entering the Wild West
Once marijuana is legalized on a federal level, the playing field will change.
By Tom Newmaster, founder of FORCEpkg
Cannabis is a disruptive force, creating a Wild West atmosphere among those who wish to profit from its potential. You see everything from strains with exotic names to package designs reminiscent of the lava lamp. But in spite of the Day-Glo exuberance, it’s crucial to remember that cannabis is no different than any regulated consumer product.
Design-Thinking Basics Apply
I’ve been teaching branding and packaging design to college students for the past 10 years. And the fundamental branding questions apply to cannabis like they do any other product:
Of course, there are special considerations for cannabis products — such as the regulatory language that has to go on packaging. Right now, this is especially relevant in the U.S. where it’s a state-by-state adventure. Plus, there are warning symbols/icons that must be displayed on pack to comply with child-resistant mandates.
Other product categories face similar challenges, however. Package designers who work with regulated products, such as beer, alcohol and pharmaceuticals, are well-versed in creative ways to adapt. And that experience will be a valuable asset moving forward.
There are unique challenges for this sector. But rather than packaging design, these have to do with brand image. In other words, if you’re selling a cannabis-infused product, does this fit your overall brand essence and messaging? Is adding CBD or THC authentic or does it feel forced? Will working cannabis into your product line cause you to lose loyal customers?
Cannabis and Your Product Line
For some brand owners in categories like beer and wine, cannabis is not just a good fit — it’s a must if you plan to stay relevant. The beer category has been losing share over the past decade. Fortune reported in 2018, AB IN/BEV’s “Heineken and Molson Coors have reported significant drops in beer volume in the U.S. The decline in sales is brought on by consumers increasingly turning to other alcoholic beverages like whiskey and wine, and an overall falloff in alcohol consumption.”
While top names in beer and alcohol, like Molson Coors and Constellation Brands, gear up to enter the infused beverage arena, marketers in other categories are looking at whether or not their brands are up to the risk. Some are launching entirely new brands and others are going the intellectual property route with moneymaking devices like spray dispensers, child-resistant packaging, etc.
Some say that cannabis is a new category. The fact is, cannabis is just another layer — think organic, non-GMO or gluten free. They are layers on an existing product sector. While cannabis awaits federal approval for national sales (like Canada), brands will have to adhere to the restrictions dictated by their states. It won’t be too long where we will see cannabis edibles on the shelf right next to candy corn.
Tom Newmaster is the founder of FORCEpkg (forcepkg.com) and has more than 25 years of experience in CPG branding and package design. He was a principal and co-owner of WFM, where he led creative and won awards for The Hershey Co., Pfizer, Stoner Car Care and Zippo. Newmaster has launched new products for Fresh Solutions Network, Koch’s Turkey, Klamath Basin Fresh Organics and Wolfgang Candy to name a few. He also serves as an adjunct instructor at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design.