Marijuana marketing in Canada is only permitted in age-gated settings. What better age-gate than inside of a legal cannabis store? If a consumer is inside of one of these storefronts, they have already shown identification and have expressed an interest in purchasing cannabis products. These new retail locations present an opportunity for Licensed Producers to create connections through experiential marketing, face-to-face conversations and classic retail merchandising.

Retail Merchandising

UP Cannabis x Tragically Hip Installation in a SpiritLeaf store – @spiritleafca on Instagram

SpiritLeaf store display – @spiritleafca on Instagram

Up Cannabis has installed an “experiential hub” inside one of Ontario’s first legal recreational weed stores, opening next week in Kingston. This hub includes a painting of The Tragically Hip’s late lead singer Gord Downie, UP branded canoe paddles and a Tragically Hip branded guitar.

The LP explains that the hub is basically a “store within a store” inside one of Spirit Leaf Inc.’s cannabis retail locations. Spirit Leaf signed an agreement with one of the lottery winners selected to apply for the initial 25 retail licenses in Ontario. This experiential hub allows Spirit Leaf shoppers to interact with and learn more about the UP recreational cannabis brand.

Under the deal, both Newstrike and Inner Spirit acquired equity interests in each other and Spiritleaf stores will distribute Up Cannabis products, as well as feature branded customer lounges or experiential hubs (as regulations allow).

Note: In Ontario, a retail license cannot be issued to a corporation if more than 9.9% of it is owned by one or more licensed cannabis producers or their affiliates. These types of retail merchandising partnerships will likely continue as they present a legal loophole for LPs to profit from retail locations.

Holiday-themed Marketing

Holidays and special occasions are a perfect time for brands to launch retail merchandising and experiential marketing inside of retail stores. Here are two examples from MedReleaf’s recreational marijuana brands.

San Rafael installed a colourful promotion encouraging consumers to find their own “Pot of Gold” this past St. Patrick’s Day. The piece features a picture of a bowl of marijuana buds. LPs are allowed to show product and be more direct inside of age-gated environments.

Altavie dared retail shop attendees to “Send flowers. The dried kind.” to their significant other for Valentine’s Day. These promotions were also featured on Nova Cannabis store’s social media accounts. This activation is being called a first of its kind cannabis marketing campaign in Canada.

Face-to-face Conversations

You can’t forget about the importance of face-to-face connections. One of the best ways to create transparency is by putting a face to the brand. Having brand representatives that are able to speak intelligently about product offerings and the company will go a long way in earning the trust of consumers. Pictured above are employees of brands Trail Blazer and Aurora inside of Nova Cannabis Store. These types of “table days” are a great way to ensure that your brand stands out among the many inside of these new crowded cannabis shops.

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