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Cannabis: A CPG Story

Editorial Director Jessie Dowd wonders if cannabis will be the disruptor that turns the BevAlc, Big Pharma and wellness industries on their heads.

Recently, I was chatting with someone who described cannabis — and its potential market positioning — as “a zero-calorie White Claw.” It’s an analogy that has stuck with me as we dove into this issue of P2PI Magazine and began working on the cover story, which explores how cannabis is poised to become a significant multi-category influencer and market disruptor with global sales forecasted to reach $55 billion by 2026.

Whether you agree with the White Claw metaphor or not, the premise is no less tantalizing and provocative. Could cannabis be the disruptor that will turn the BevAlc, Big Pharma and wellness industries on their heads? What will the landscape look like when cannabis use is further normalized? And what does this all mean for commerce marketers as cannabis infiltrates across categories with its own host of big brands and labels?

We sought out to answer these questions in our cover story, delving into branding, marketing, customer strategy, e-commerce, loyalty, packaging and physical retail — all as they relate to the burgeoning market.

Central to all of this, marketers working in this emerging sector are tasked with educating consumers on how to integrate beneficial products into their daily lives and giving cannabis a sense of normalcy. And part of shedding its legacy stigma and rebranding cannabis for normalcy lies in reimagining the shopping experience from its medical and underground roots.

The dispensary experience has already come quite a long way in just a few short years, evolving from the seedy (pun intended … is it really a cannabis story without some sort of stoner dad joke thrown in for good measure?) first days of shady-looking dispensaries located under a bridge in a run-down part of town, to the elevated concierge experiences and uber-efficient pickup spots nestled in between trendy boutiques and restaurants we see across more and more cities today.

As part of our cover story, we dive into the plethora of exciting new dispensary concepts, featuring a handful of unique locations, pop-ups and other formats from various cannabis retailers. This roundup includes Wyllow, an other-worldly 500-square-foot Los Angeles dispensary reminiscent of a jewel box, which  captivates customers’ senses while a dedicated Atelier guides their shopping journey.

In addition to the spread of dispensaries, there are also now cannabis kiosks, consumption lounges and delivery options popping up across the U.S. and Canada. Perhaps buying it with your weekly groceries may not be as far off as we think. Just imagine all of the cross-promotional merchandising that would be possible … BOGO on Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies with your vape cartridge refill? Don’t mind if I do!

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