Cannabis is becoming more and more mainstream in the US: 2023 saw continued growth in the social acceptability of cannabis use, new states legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis sales, and a major social media platform change its policies to allow for cannabis advertising. The cannabis market is forecast to reach a whopping $50.7 billion in sales in 2028, representing an 88% increase from 2022’s $27 billion.
While the industry is clearly on the rise, cannabis marketers have plenty of challenges to contend with—from a maze of advertising regulations, to economic uncertainty and inflation, to the upcoming loss of third-party cookies in Chrome and shift towards privacy-friendly digital advertising. To both navigate these challenges and capitalize on the market’s potential, cannabis marketing teams will need to prioritize brand awareness, crafting targeted strategies that make the most of the spaces where cannabis can be advertised and where their target audiences spend time.
Here are some trends and tips for making the most of cannabis ad spend in 2024:
There are a lot of consumers out there who are new to cannabis. So, when they go to purchase a cannabis product, they're often choosing whatever the budtenders recommend, whatever looks flashy and fun, or perhaps most commonly—especially during inflation—whatever’s at a good price point for them. As such, it’s extra important for cannabis marketers to drive education of their brands and generate interest in their products. Connected TV, digital audio, and digital out-of-home (DOOH) are great channels for accomplishing this. Marketers can tap into CTV private marketplaces (PMPs) that accept cannabis, such as Telaria and FreeWheel, cannabis-friendly podcasts, and digital out-of-home partners like Place Exchange.
In 2024, cannabis brands looking to amp up awareness and differentiate themselves most effectively will also need to ensure their tactics are as targeted as possible. One way to get more targeted with these efforts is to identify specific consumer personas and tailor lifestyle content that extends beyond cannabis use specifically for these groups. There are segments of consumers who enjoy things like cooking, gardening, and outdoor activities in addition to cannabis, so tapping into those interests is a great way to create consumer personas for targeted advertising efforts. And looking towards a privacy-first future, CTV and podcasts also offer contextual targeting opportunities where cannabis marketers can reach these groups of people.
While cannabis brands are very familiar with traditional out-of-home, 2024 should see more and more marketing teams spending on digital out-of-home (DOOH).
DOOH is great for cannabis advertising for a variety of reasons. First, it offers all the benefits of traditional OOH, plus all the benefits of digital advertising—the ability to target, track, optimize, refine, measure results, and quickly switch out creative as needed. Also, as cannabis gains legal status in different regions, an increasing number of dispensaries are emerging. The more dispensaries there are, the more opportunities there will be for advertisers to leverage in-store DOOH screens to reach customers who are ready to buy in prime places and moments.
At the same time, while there are many restrictions when it comes to advertising cannabis online, DOOH comes with fewer restrictions, so advertisers can get many more impressions from a wider audience. Overall, it's a great way for cannabis brands to get more bang for their buck with less red tape.
Finally, next year should see more and more cannabis brands trying to engage audiences beyond the digital world. For example, brands will likely invest more time and money in educating budtenders on their products: If you go into a dispensary and have no idea what you're doing or what you want, you’re going to ask a budtender for their advice. If those budtenders are educated and excited about your products, then they'll be more likely to talk about them with those customers.
Savvy marketers will also lean on real world engagement opportunities that are more commonly associated with B2B advertising—such as conferences, panels, and interviews—to get people talking about cannabis and their brands. These strategies can help make up for all the regulation and restrictions that exist for traditional and digital cannabis advertising.
Overall, cannabis marketers will need to approach brand awareness in new and creative ways in 2024 to differentiate themselves in a market where everyone is vying for consumers’ hard-earned dollars. By prioritizing targeted messaging, digital out-of-home, and real world engagement, cannabis brands of all sizes can ensure they're making the most of their marketing dollars and setting themselves up to capitalize on the explosive growth coming to the cannabis space.
Hungry for more 2024 trends? Check out our 2024 Trends Report for everything digital marketers need to know for next year.