Dawn Rowlands, CEO Dentsu Africa
As South Africa prepares for the full legalisation of cannabis, the country finds itself at the forefront of a burgeoning industry that will see digital and influencer marketing, educational campaigns and new media spaces emerging.
This article first appeared in Media Online on 13 July 2023.
The legalisation of cannabis has opened a multitude of opportunities for businesses in South Africa.
The country boasts a favourable climate for cannabis cultivation and, with its rich biodiversity, it is well-positioned to become a major player in the global cannabis market.
As local entrepreneurs and investors recognise this sector’s potential, we can expect a significant increase in cannabis production, processing, and distribution. The growth of this industry will also add significantly to employment opportunities – not just in cultivation, but also in the various by-products.
The legalisation of cannabis has paved the way for a transformative shift in the advertising and marketing landscape. With the removal of legal barriers, businesses in the cannabis industry can now openly promote their products and services.
However, this newfound freedom comes with a need for responsible advertising practices and compliance with regulations.
Targeted digital marketing
In the digital age, targeted marketing plays a crucial role in reaching the right audience. The local cannabis industry is likely to leverage digital platforms, including social media, online publications, and search engines, to effectively target potential consumers.
By employing data-driven strategies and understanding consumer preferences, businesses can tailor their messages to specific demographics, thereby maximising their reach and impact.
Influencer marketing has become an increasingly popular approach to connect with consumers authentically. Influencers who align with the values and ethos of the cannabis industry can help establish trust and credibility. As regulations permit, we can expect to see the rise of cannabis influencers who can educate and inform their followers about the benefits and responsible use of cannabis products.
Given the historical stigma surrounding cannabis, education will be a key aspect of the industry’s marketing efforts. Businesses are likely to invest in educational campaigns to dispel myths, provide accurate information, and promote responsible consumption.
By empowering consumers with knowledge, the cannabis industry can establish itself as a reliable and trustworthy sector.
As the market matures, competition among cannabis businesses will intensify. To stand out, companies will need to focus on product differentiation.
This will require innovative branding strategies that highlight unique qualities, such as organic cultivation methods, sustainable practices, or specialised product formulations. Building strong brand identities will be crucial for businesses to establish themselves in this evolving landscape.
FMCG: Companies can explore opportunities in producing cannabis-infused products such as snacks, beverages, and edibles. This includes items like cannabis-infused chocolates, gummies, energy drinks, or even cannabis-infused cooking ingredients.These products can cater to both the medicinal and recreational cannabis markets.
Fashion: Can be incorporated with hemp clothing and accessories, as well as cannabis-themed designs and prints.
Advertising agencies will need: Specialised teams that cater to cannabis businesses. These agencies can help create targeted campaigns, develop branding strategies, and navigate the unique challenges and regulations surrounding cannabis advertising.
Alcohol-infused drinks: There may be opportunities for the creation of cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages. These can include beers, spirits, and cocktails that incorporate cannabis extracts or flavours, offering consumers a new range of options.
Health and wellness: The health and wellness industry is already exploring the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis, and develop products such as CBD oils, creams, and supplements. These products can be marketed for various purposes like pain relief, relaxation, and general wellbeing.
Cosmetics: Cannabis-infused beauty and skincare products are gaining popularity worldwide.
South Africa’s cannabis industry is poised for exponential growth in the near future – bringing significant changes to the advertising and marketing landscape.
Digital marketing, influencer collaborations, educational campaigns, and product differentiation will become essential components of successful marketing strategies in the cannabis sector. However, businesses must remain mindful of compliance with regulations and the need for responsible advertising practices.
As the cannabis industry takes shape, it will be exciting to witness the creative ways in which businesses navigate this new frontier.
By embracing innovation, responsible practices, and consumer education, the future of the cannabis industry in South Africa looks promising, with a vibrant advertising and marketing landscape driving its growth.