One in five American adults can now legally eat, drink, smoke or vape cannabis. For the fledgling companies fighting for customer attention, the game of differentiating their products through branding has begun. And nothing conveys these emerging marijuana brands and stories so clearly as the pretty packaging in which they’re increasingly wrapped.
Rolling a crinkly, crooked joint by hand, the preferred packaging of an earlier generation of pot smokers, seems like a quaint ritual compared with the new products. Exhibit A is Toast’s marijuana cigarette packs, which are black with embossed art-deco designs. “Toast” is written in gold italics. The cigarettes, called “Slices,” come 10 to a pack.
The filter tip is purple with a gold butterfly and gold text where the purple ends. The branding was inspired by 1920s cigarette cases, according to Gabrielle Rein, Toast’s chief creative officer.
“The packaging had to be positioned as luxury,” said Rein. “It had to look very chic and upscale, it had to be unisex.”
Packaging is one way companies are making money from marijuana sales without the legal risk of actually touching the plant. The marijuana industry was worth $6.7 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $50 billion by 2025, according to Cowen and Co.
Ed Kilduff, the branding guru who created the Rabbit wine opener and an Oprah Winfrey-endorsed herb saver among many other products, is now getting into cannabis with his company Pollen Gear. Kilduff saw an opportunity when he noticed how cannabis is typically packaged: cylindrical tubes with pop-tops that largely lacked character.
Cannabis retail stores were selling different qualities of weed — bottom shelf, middle range and premium — all in the same boring packaging. So Kilduff designed a stylish child-proof glass cylindrical container to differentiate premium weed products.
“There’s no way right now for