Part II: What the cannabis industry can learn from alcohol advertising

Posted On: March 28th, 2019

Last week, we looked at the results of a 40-year study conducted by the University of Austin at Texas regarding how alcohol advertising has influenced consumption – and the lessons the cannabis industry can take away from that study. Although alcohol is much more widely accepted in American society today, the industry has had to claw its way up from post-Prohibition scorn that looked a lot like the challenges faced by the cannabis industry today.

This week, we’re going to take a look at how certain alcohol brands are using social media to boost sales – and, of course, the takeaways for cannabis companies that are trying to grow brand awareness via platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

#1: Engage your audience

One of the oldest alcohol brands in the United States is Jack Daniel’s. Established in 1866, it’s rather remarkable that the brand has become one of the most successful social media users in the entire industry. How does Jack Daniels do this?

Well, for one thing, the whiskey-maker pays attention to its audience. When consumers post comments or questions about the brand on Instagram and or Facebook, the majority of them get a reply straight from the distillery. If a fan tags the brand in a post about his birthday, chances are he’ll receive well-wishes that same day via social media. This sort of engagement fosters brand loyalty and gives fans a sense of “belonging.”

While many cannabis companies do not yet have the resources of Jack Daniel’s (i.e., the financial wherewithal to employ multiple social media marketers and social listening tools), there are strategies that will foster consumer engagement. Something as simple as post-notifications to a few trusted employees with authorization to respond will help your brand remain meaningfully involved with its fan base.

#2: Provide exclusivity

Let’s face it, brand fanatics like to fantasize about what it’s like to work at HQ of their favorite booze purveyor. Chances are their jobs are mundane and uninteresting. The very thought of working in the alcohol or cannabis industries brightens up their otherwise tedious workdays. So, why not give them what they want?

Nobody does this better than tequila-maker Pátron. The company famously uses social media to provide a virtual reality glimpse into Hacienda Pátron – where the golden agave liquor is created. If you’ve viewed the posts, you know that this is a simple introduction into a world of unparalleled luxury and decadence.

Cannabis companies can do this too. While state or federal laws may prohibit you from posting pictures of cannabis consumption , you can probably get away with pictures of your production facility, corporate offices, or even the lock on your grow-room door. Make consumers feel like they have inside knowledge and they’ll keep coming back.

#3: Be accessible

Other alcohol brands have gained social media success by sparking real conversations with consumers via social media. The Delaware-based brewery, Dogfish Head, experienced a surge in online popularity after the company hosted a twitter-based Q&A with the company’s president. This simple campaign bought the brewery a loyal following it may have never enjoyed otherwise.

What each of these examples has in common, of course, is the idea of making consumers feel special. It may sound trite, but it’s what people crave. This is especially true for “vice” industries like alcohol or cannabis, both of which can give people the perception of escaping from their everyday lives.

Importantly, each of these brands is also making an impact on consumers without doing anything their detractors disdain. They’re not appealing to minors. They’re not showing people in varying states of intoxication. They’re not even showing people in the act of consumption.

Instead, all they’re doing is allowing people to feel like a part of something bigger (and perhaps cooler) than themselves. It’s a simple strategy but an effective one. If you have questions about how to grow an organic audience in the cannabis industry, we can help! Don’t just take our word for it, check out a case study of one of our clients in the cannabis industry here

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