It’s three months into federal legalization of adult-use cannabis in Canada. LP’s are hampered by Health Canada marketing regulations and being creatively compliant is the buzz phrase.
Parties, events, conferences, educational opportunities and free swag dominate the landscape where Licence Producers can peddle their brand direct to consumers. The Lift Expo in Vancouver this month offered brands the opportunity for creative experiences where they expressed themselves with interactive quality spaces. This expo enabled canna-fans opportunities to collect branded-mass-produced-made-in-China items designed to last as long as dried cannabis left in the open-air … it takes very little for these free gifts to self-destruct damaging whatever lays in their wake.
A ‘free’ gift is no longer ‘free’ when valuable belongings are mangled by cheap branded loot. Imagine black dye running in the wash all over clothing and linens you love; or, water leaking all over your bag impacting your computer, camera, wallet and joints due to a branded water bottle which doesn’t seal.
The cannabis industry is already non-environmentally friendly: packaged cannabis is locked away under layers of plastic plastered in warnings; indoor growing gorges electricity through use of high-intensity lamps, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and outdoor irrigation is drying out streams in California. It’s disappointing that the majority of LP’s continue their environmental impact with their swag gifts where it appears quantity is valued over quality.
The good news is, there’s exceptions, a handful of cannabis brands stand out with carefully hand selected gifts.
Here are the top 5 cannabis brands nailing swag:
7Acres was recognized as the Brand of the Year at the 2018 Canadian Cannabis Awards presented by Lift & Co. They're committed to High End Cannabis experiences and Respecting the Plant - which is reflected in the gorgeous gift box they mailed out directly before legalization in October; these gift boxes went viral on social media channels.
This box was excellently executed with high quality packaging featuring beautifully branded items, including: an embroidered snap-back hat, stash jar, 2 lighters, 2 packages of rolling papers and a Krush grinder. This 7Acres branded Krush grinder is one of my absolute favourite swag items.
4. BLISS CO.
This smaller Licence Producer taps into quality designer products to gift to their clients. Including, design forward glass pipes by Laundry Day and record keeping strain & cooking journals by Gold Leaf. Bliss Co. understands the necessity of collaborating with a wider network within the canna-community; by doing this, they’re one of the few LP’s who appreciate the value of creatives.
These creatives are responsible for contributing to the dawning of a narrative which reaches beyond the stereotypical stoner of lazy, male and young. Their work is shifting the paradigm to normalization of consumption. Without these beautiful tools, cannabis wouldn’t be able to reach a wider demographic of consumers. Just like Lululemon popularized yoga in the West, designer pipes and beautiful journals will contribute to the popularity of cannabis.
3. TOKYO SMOKE
Tokyo Smoke dominates in free gifts, they consistently operate outside the box leading the industry and understand that amazing swag doesn't need to be expensive.
In 2017 they sent free branded rolling papers to everyone who signed up to their mailing list; for legalization they gifted a Red Superproof Limited Edition 3D Biodegradeable Lighter Case Joint Locker; in-stores, they’re offering designer golf tees which function as a poker when you’re rolling a J; for elite guests, a personally engraved Pax Vaporizer; and a BlyssCloud favourite, a take home self-designed bouquet of fresh flowers with vase.
Their gifts reflect their brand story of well-designed and carefully curated products for the urban hipster consumer.
2. TANTALUS LABS
This lower mainland Licence Producer is operating in a blue ocean of opportunity due to their commitment of Sungrown BC Cannabis with an environmentally controlled greenhouse called SunLab.
Unique to their swag is they push the message of SUNGROWN with the Tantalus’ logo (a mountain with sunbeams) playing a minor role. The choice to showcase a cultivation technique rather than a brand name is a paradigm shift distinguishing them.
Of course, their swag is stellar and a must-have. These include an Erb grinder, Doob Tubes and a reflective anorak 3M jacket which is perfect for the rain forest climate in the Pacific Northwest. A common theme of this swag is it's ideal for the environmentally aware individual who loves smoking J’s outdoors year round.
1. EMERALD HEALTH
Emerald Health’s swag dominates in quality. This Lower Mainland LP is very clear on their brand story and why they’re doing what they do. Their swag is a reflection of this embodying their brand lifestyle – which is health & wellness.
They gifted out discreetly branded chic high performance outdoor gear by Arc’teryx; including, a weather resistance urban backpack, fleece base-layer and packable shell jacket. They also offered a Muse, an immersive meditation headband that provides real time feedback on mental activity. I love how Emerald considers the lifestyle intentions of their target demographic of end-consumers who will choose their brand because of the vitamin-like wellness benefits they’ll be offering.