Cannabis plants inside of a licensed cultivation center in Washington state.

Rory Savatgy

Survey Finds Marketers Lukewarm to Enter Cannabis Space

According to a survey by Emerging Insider, a content relations firm, marketers throughout North America are split on whether or not they would be open to working with the cannabis industry. The survey of 600 marketers found 43 percent of respondents were willing to take on cannabis industry clients, while 32 percent said they would not be open to taking on clientele in the space. The remaining respondents indicated they would need to check with their company executives.

Of the companies who said they would work with cannabis industry operators, 52 percent said they would be so inclined due to the potential revenue derived from the space; 29 percent indicated “it would be an interesting or fun area to conceptualize campaigns”; and 19 percent felt it would “provide a novel challenge.”

Of the respondents indicating they would not be willing to market cannabis products, 38 percent believed doing business with the industry would “lead to a negative perception of their firm”; 26 percent indicated they do not possess the necessary expertise to be involved in the industry; 20 percent said they had “no interest” in the cannabis space; and 16 percent believed the industry is “not yet robust enough to make it worthwhile.”

One of the most prevalent issues marketers faced in considering the space was the legality of cannabis, and 85 percent of respondents said the “first step” to industry involvement would be to hire counsel, while 68 percent admitted they “have little knowledge” about cannabis marketing laws on a state or national level. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed believed that public relations would be the “strongest marketing integration” due to cannabis advertising laws, while 24 percent indicated search engine optimization marketing would be the best way to enter the space and avoid regulatory issues.

The vast majority of respondents, 80 percent, indicated traditional advertising platforms are “years away” from being able to properly handle legal and regulatory challenges associated with the cannabis space; and respondents were divided about where the greater opportunities for marketing-related growth in the space lies – 53 percent said the consumer-based products and services sector provided a greater growth opportunity, while 47 percent believed business-to-business would scale more rapidly.

Just 6 percent of respondents claimed they did not see venture capital funding becoming robust in the space during the next five years, while 70 percent indicated venture capital would “increase substantially” over the next year.

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