Cannabis Marketing on Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is a time for gift-giving. Chocolates, flowers and more recently, cannabis. Recreational marijuana brands are eagerly trying to associate their products with the romantic holiday, and for good reason. Valentine’s Day is a multi-billion dollar industry. Let’s take a look at how Canadian Licensed Producers are capitalizing on the day of love and analyze some interesting market data from the U.S.

In-Store Promotions

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Licensed Producer Aurora, with the help of agencies Grip and Zeno Group, ran its first in-store promotion for its AltaVie recreational cannabis brand by asking customers to consider a different kind of “flower” for this year’s Valentine’s Day gift.

Canadian cannabis marketing regulations state that the point-of-sale is one of the few places advertising is permitted. Storefronts are completely age-gated (as required by law) and ensure that the consumers being exposed to the advertising already have an existing interest in purchasing cannabis products. Retailers and LPs have started collaborating on creative ways to integrate marketing into their stores.

Darren Karasiuk, global EVP of adult use at Aurora Cannabis, told The Globe and Mail that he noticed a substantial interest among consumers about how cannabis could potentially help with intimacy. This is why the company chose Valentine’s Day for its first in-store promotion.

The campaign was focused on the brand’s “Cabaret” sativa-dominant strain and ran in select storefronts in Alberta, which is currently the province with the most privately-owned cannabis stores in Canada. The creative plays on words that encourages shoppers to buy “dried flowers” for their loved one this year.

Participating retailers gifted Valentine’s Day cards to shoppers that feature a photo of a bouquet made out of cannabis buds. The campaign included signage in-store and a profile sheet (pictured above), which suggests pairing the strain with romantic dinners, a sensual massage and a “Do Not Disturb” sign. This sheet also outlines important characteristics about the AltaVie “Cabaret” flower including terpene and cannabinoid levels, an aroma description and the intended effect (stimulating).

Social & Digital Advertising

Fire and Flower is a Canadian cannabis retail chain with locations in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

On Valentine’s Day, the company’s social media pages and age-gated website displayed messages such as “Love is in the air” and “Find your cannabis match today,” accompanied by a Valentine’s Day themed quiz that matched the user with specific strains based on their answers.

“We’re getting good traffic and [it’s] giving an opportunity for people to see how events in their lives can be combined with cannabis,” said Nathan Mison, a vice-president for Fire and Flower.

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Branding

Xscape, a recreational brand owned by CannTrust, sells a “Flix’N Chill” strain, a name that appears to be a play on “Netflix and chill,” a slang phrase that is used to imply sex.

Xscape’s strains are all named based on actions and events. Other products include “Walk The Dog” and “Tailgate”. The brand’s slogan is #StrainsForWhatever and is marketing based on specific use cases.

An image posted on Xscape’s Instagram page on Valentine’s Day featured the slogan “Strains For Baby Making”, further promoting the concept that cannabis increases sensuality.

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U.S. Consumer Data

Headset Inc. operates a market intelligence platform that provides real-time insights to the cannabis industry. The company gathers cannabis retail data to create industry reports. This year they published an interesting data snap about cannabis retail spending in the U.S. on Valentine’s Day.

The report found that women spent 4% more than usual, while men spent 5% less.

Women spent more on flower, while men bought more pre-rolled joints, edibles and topical products.

With such a lack of consumer data in the industry, reports from companies like Headset are valuable for cannabis marketers to analyze and understand. It appears that females spend more on cannabis products on February 14th. Cannabis brands should use this data to form questions. Are women buying more products as gifts or for personal consumption? Why are men spending less? Do they have a perception that their significant other wouldn’t appreciate receiving cannabis products on Valentine’s Day? These questions will reveal insights that can help cannabis brands create products and marketing communications to best service their target market.

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Analysis

Holidays and cultural occasions present an opportunity for all companies to launch creative marketing campaigns. Valentine’s Day is arising as an important event for cannabis brands as the plant continues to be associated with sensuality and intimacy.

It is apparent that retailers are quickly becoming one of the most effective ways for Licensed Producers to advertise. They are able to launch elaborate in-store marketing campaigns like AltaVie’s Valentine’s Day activation. Additionally, retailers are able to create digital content that promotes LP products, such as Fire and Flower’s Valentine’s Day strain quiz. It will be interesting to see how cannabis brands continue to partner with retailers to utilize in-store and digital promotions around holidays and special occasions.

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