CANNAINVESTOR Magazine January / February 2017 - Page 90

If you think that branding is not important for the future of America’s marijuana industry please reconsider. Just reflect upon the lowly hot dog. Almost immediately that earworm of a song,”I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner” pops into your consciousness.

America’s marijuana industry is no different than the hot dog industry. Branding is quickly becoming critical in determining the success or failure of many marijuana businesses.

America’s legal marijuana industry generated revenues of $6.5 billion in 2016, a 30 percent increase over 2015. Predictions indicate that the industry is on track to generate annual revenues of $20 to $30 billion in 2021.

Two U.S. Industries which achieved growth rates similar to what we’re now seeing in America’s marijuana industry were cable television in the 1990s and the broadband internet industry in the early 2000’s. Cable television grew in the 19 percent range and the growth of broadband internet was close to 29 percent.

Twenty-eight U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have or soon will have medical marijuana. After last November’s ballot initiatives, eight states have or will have adult-use, recreational marijuana. California, with a population of almost 39 million people has the potential to dwarf the sales of all those other states combined.

America’s legal marijuana industry, especially in the western states, has experienced rapid growth and continues to evolve. However, product differentiation and product branding are in their infancy when compared to most other industries.

Increasingly in many of the Western U.S. states including California, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, dispensaries and retail stores have similar, “me too” products. For example, If you visit a dispensary or retail store in a western state and ask for a vape pen cartridge, the budtender will likely show you three or four similar products. Due to the lack of distinctive branding and the lack of consumer awareness of the brand, it can be a challenge to differentiate one vape pen cartridge from the other.