Canadian cannabis retailers need to utilize a variety of methods to increase brand awareness and affinity among their current and potential shoppers. Many retailers opt to create their own branded clothing, accessories, and merchandise to achieve these aims. Recently, stores have even launched their own branded cannabis products as well.
In this article, we will analyze the importance of branded merchandise and products for retailers and include some outstanding examples from the Canadian market.
What better way to build brand loyalty and simultaneously turn your shoppers into walking billboards than creating branded merchandise that they would love to wear/use? Retail stores can create a variety of items including smoking accessories (bongs, pipes, papers, ashtrays, lighters, vape pen batteries) and apparel (t-shirts, hoodies, hats, pants, flip-flops). If these items are high quality and visually appealing, it is likely that your shoppers will represent your brand in public and on social media, helping grow brand awareness and affinity.
These items can be sourced from a variety of producers. Companies like Greenlane and agencies such as Humble & Fume are great for creating branded accessories such as lighters. Jupiter Research and Detonate Group are examples of companies that can create custom-branded vaporizer batteries. There are hundreds of Canadian and foreign white-label clothing companies that can be partnered with to offer branded apparel.
Important note: British Columbia-based cannabis retailers are only permitted to sell cannabis and accessories used in the consumption of cannabis in-store. These BC retailers cannot sell branded clothing in-store or online to residents of British Columbia. Technically BC retailers can still sell clothing online to residents of other provinces. A representative from the LCRB told ADCANN that “the LCRB has no policies regarding giving items away and does not regulate or have authority over items sold in stores other than licensed Cannabis Retail Stores.” Private retailers in all other provinces can sell branded clothing within their stores.
Here are some of the best examples of Canadian cannabis retailers who have launched their own successful lines of branded merchandise and apparel.
Tokyo Smoke was the first Canadian cannabis brand to launch a storefront – albeit, at the time, it only sold coffee and non-infused items. Since then, Tokyo Smoke has remained one of the top cannabis companies in Canada when it comes to branded apparel, merchandise, and accessories. Their signature red circle logo design is easily recognizable to those who know. Tokyo Smoke offers a variety of sweatsuits, t-shirts, hats, ashtrays, lighters, and much more.
The company is also the first in Canada to launch their own unique vaporizer battery system and pods – called the “Luma”. This device closely resembles a PAX-era style battery and is emboldened with the brand’s red circle logo. The company also launched three pods that work exclusively with this device – “Go”, “Equalize” and “Pause”. All of these branded items have helped Tokyo Smoke achieve status as “more than just a store,” but a lifestyle cannabis and coffee brand that is deeply ingrained in their shoppers’ rituals.
Burb is a British Columbia-based cannabis retailer with three stores that have gained nationwide attention for their apparel and accessories. Although BC-based retailers cannot sell their clothing or products not used in consumption in-store, Burb is somehow able to continue to display their clothing for shoppers to see. Because of the regulations, most of their apparel sales are done out-of-province, helping build their brand awareness across the country.
Burb offers a variety of high-quality and unique clothing options from hoodies to shorts to necklaces to t-shirts to hats and more. The store has also collaborated with brands like BLLRDR to create limited-edition apparel pieces. Burb also offers a line of branded smoking accessories that can be found for purchase in other cannabis retailers across the country. Burb’s high amount of brand awareness among Canadians can no doubt be attributed to their merchandise strategy.
The Hunny Pot
The Hunny Pot is the first cannabis store to open in Toronto. As part of their store and brand launch, they created a variety of branded accessories and apparel. Shoppers can purchase a variety of items including pipes, bongs, hoodies, t-shirts, and even coasters that bear the signature Hunny Pot honeycomb logo in-store and online.
The Hunny Pot also utilizes this apparel to grow their social media following by running giveaways on Instagram for a chance to win. Most recently, they gave away a pair of Hunny Pot branded sweatpants and received hundreds of engagements and new followers on Instagram. It is important to remember that this branded apparel can be utilized for social media content, giveaways, and building relationships with influencers and ambassadors.
In the summer of 2020, Canadian cannabis retailers began launching their own cannabis-containing products into the market. Although currently there are only a handful of retail stores that have created their own brands, we at ADCANN expect this to change over the coming years as more stores see the benefit in launching consumable items.
Retailers have the benefit of real-time market research and can form a thorough understanding of their consumers, which puts them in a unique position to formulate offerings that will satisfy them. On top of that, budtender recommendations are still one of the main purchasing drivers for retail-shopping consumers – allowing these stores to recommend their own products instead of others. We expect many retailers to offer their own products eventually.
This will likely be done mainly through partnerships between stores and Licensed Producers to “white label” their own products, but some stores will likely even opt to grow their own and make their own offerings once it is viable to do so. Currently, if a retailer launches their own branded product they must go through all existing regulatory processes, sell that product to the provincial distribution branch and then buy that product back from the distributor to sell in-store.
Additionally, some retailers have launched brands in markets that they do not have stores in. It will be interesting to observe if retailers choose to stock products created/branded by other retailers, even if that company doesn’t have stores in their province. It seems counterintuitive that a retailer would want to benefit and advertise for one of their competitors, even indirectly – but time will tell if this cannabis-containing product strategy pays off.
Here are three examples of Canadian cannabis retailers who recently launched their own consumable product lines.
This award-winning Ontario-based retailer launched their first cannabis-containing product, the “Jumping Jack 510 Vape & Battery,” in August of last year. This Superette-branded vape pen and cartridge is made in partnership with Fume Labs and The Blinc Group. These products are now available in Alberta, a market that Superette notably does not yet have stores in. They are able to grow brand awareness of their company name through vape sales, which puts them in a good position if they ever decide to expand as a brick-and-mortar in the prairie province.
Fire & Flower
Edmonton-based publicly traded cannabis retailer chain Fire & Flower was one of the first stores to launch their own product – a new CBD sub-brand and product labeled “Revity”. This new brand has a very similar aesthetic to Fire & Flower and will be sold in their locations across the country. This will allow the retailer to recommend their own in-house CBD oil over other competitors and increase revenue and profits.
Fire & Flower was analyzed by the Creativity & Compliance crew in the latest episode.
Spiritleaf, a multi-chain retailer with locations across the country, announced the launch of Spiritleaf Origins (a private label brand of cannabis products) in early 2021. These products were expected to be offered to cannabis retail stores and provincial distributors in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario this spring. However, these plans may have changed as Spiritleaf was recently acquired by Sundial Growers, a licensed producer, and investment company. Spiritleaf is another retailer that is looking to expand their brand awareness through cannabis-containing products that their own stores and competing stores will (hopefully) carry.
Canadian Cannabis Retail Marketing Guide
Over the past few months, when it comes to creating original content, we’ve been focusing on the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian cannabis industry, retailers.
This series of articles is dedicated to informing and educating Canadian cannabis retail store operators about marketing, promotions, branding, partnerships, and product selection.
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Last Updated on May 19, 2021 by ADCANN