“I bought Snoops’ weed because he’s Snoop Dogg,” says 44-year-old Glenn Miller …
It was inevitable. As a projected $7 billion cannabis industry continues to sweep across the U.S., many are jumping into the equation trying to get their fair share of the loot. But no group has more of an advantage to do so than celebrities, namely ones who have built steadfast followings around smoking the stuff.
Artists like Tommy Chong, Rihanna, Wiz Khalifa, Willie Nelson, Sublime with Rome and Snoop Dogg are a few already in the game trying to win over enthusiasts. But according to a new study by Marijuana Business Daily, some dispensaries are jacking up the prices of those products for very little reason other than the name that’s attached to it.
Before getting into it any further, this isn’t at all an oddity in the world of business. Does anyone think Michael Jordan’s sneakers are made of higher quality materials than the basic Nike runners? Or does Drake’s whiskey taste more delicious than a cheap plastic bottle with a handle attached to it? It’s called licensing, and it works.
“Celebrity brands enter the market with instant awareness,” says Trevor Wade, global marketing director at brand consulting agency Landor Associates. “They’re usually thousands, if not millions of people, possibly globally, who know who the celebrity is.”
And like in Colorado, many are coming back to the plant after years of hiatus because it’s now legal and more socially acceptable. This leads consumers into looking for a direction in which to buy.
“I bought Snoops’ weed because he’s Snoop Dogg,” says 44-year-old Glenn Miller. He says he hasn’t smoked weed since the late ‘90s, but now does again because of a shoulder issue. “The lady behind the counter tried to sell me something with the word ‘alien’ in it and it just didn’t sound at all appealing,” he adds. “But Snoop had ‘bananas’ — so I was sold.”
When told about the price hike in celebrity brands, Miller simply shrugged it off, saying he expected as much, but would rather walk out with something he trusts rather than a strain he knows nothing about.
Matt Bell, Vice President of Public Relations at Nerve Cannabis Consulting, says there’s more to it than just slapping an image on strains and pulling in extra profits. He works closely with the Chong’s Choice brand (produced at Verde Growhouse in Colorado), which recently launched in the Colorado marketplace.
“Celebrity brands bring marketing value to a dispensary,” he says. “So, dispensaries are willing to pay to be associated with certain celebrities, to be able to let fans of the celebrities who have brands know that their stores carry them. Chong's approach differs in they spend a premium on the product, and work with businesses that are a natural fit — where Chong's fans are anyway.”
According to the MBD report, Chong’s Choice has little, if any, markup on its products compared to regular strains in the marketplace. Leafs by Snoop, at least in Colorado, sees about an 11 percent uptick, while Willie’s Reserve seems to be through the roof.
Though a lot of it likely has to do with the experience one gets while purchasing a celebrity endorsed product, too. Purchase a few buds of Snoops’ Leafs or Willie’s Reserve and the consumer walks out of the store with a fancy box in which it sits — a noticeable strategy inspired by some of the world’s top electronics products like Apple. It's a sight that overpowers the boring pill bottles most flower comes in with a regular purchase.
But it's Business 101, an effort to bring trust and value into an industry that's overly competitive already and will be even more so in the coming years as more and more states look to legalize and reap the benefits that comes with it.
Welcome to the world, cannabis. You're all grown up now.
An email sent to Willie's Reserve has, as of yet, gone unanswered.