Celebrities are eagerly joining forces with dispensaries to help boost marketing efforts. Last year we witnessed musicians like Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson unveil their personal lines of cannabis products. With many products, there are mixed reviews, and the celebrity endorsed cannabis strains are no exception. Quality aside, it is fun to witness the trend in celebrity weed endorsements.
Nike, Adidas, & Native Roots?
Much like shoe and clothing companies have done for years, the Colorado Dispensary chain Native Roots is leading the charge with celebrity endorsements. Growers from the dispensary worked with Boulder, Colorado musical duo Big Gigantic to develop “Cookies and Dream”, a hybrid strain. The strain was unveiled last January at the Native Roots tree house X-Games after party.
Before releasing Cookies and Dream, Native Roots growers worked with DJ GriZ, another Boulder artist. They called their creation GriZ Kush, another hybrid that is loved by Colorado. Native Roots CEO Josh Ginsberg suggested that many other artists were lining up to collaborate with his team.
Working for now
A few weeks ago, the Grateful Dead band, Dead and Company, performed in Boulder, Colorado. During one of their performances, bass player Oteil Burbridge wore a shirt from the dispensary Groundswell. In the following days, representatives from the Denver dispensary experienced swarms of new customers mentioning the shirt.
Oteil and Groundswell growers worked together to create “Oteils Egyptian Kush”,a hybrid of Alien OG and OG Kush. This strain is one of the best sellers in Denver, Groundswell’s chief grower said,
(Egyptian Kush) is the ultimate musical strain with a cherry flavor that Burbridge likes.
But some critics are concerned that this marketing model will not prove successful in the long run. While dispensary chains struggle to define their national presence, they are latching on to short-term solutions. Harvard Business School Professor, John Quelch, explains this in his 2014 case study “Marketing Marijuana in Colorado.”
I see this as a low-cost vehicle for achieving brand differentiation. I think it’s probably going to proliferate but unlikely to be a real good basis for sustained differentiation. Each of these individuals will attract a certain number of aficionados who are drawn to purchase the product as a recognition of the music or the artist, but if they don’t care for the product, they won’t buy it again.
Overall I regard this as a relatively unsustainable model, but understandable given the fragmented nature of the local market at the moment. – Quelch
Marketing for any new product is always somewhat of an experiment. Regardless of the sales aspect of having celebrity endorsements in the cannabis industry, there is a political side as well. In some cases, celebrity endorsers are active politically and put a good face on the cannabis industry. This association is invaluable.
Whether the industry can sustain its ability to tap celebrity influence into the future, is yet to be seen. But one thing’s for sure, if they keep coming up with crazy strains like Cookies and Dream, things won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
What do you think about the wave of celebrity endorsement in the cannabis industry? Let us know on social media or in the comments below.