America’s Next Big Holiday?

Written by Adam English
Posted April 23, 2019

Perhaps I’m officially “of a certain age” where I can’t help but scoff at this, but corporate America just went bonkers with their marketing budgets.

Gearing up going into Friday there was a barrage of marijuana- and CBD-related advertising, and this is probably just the start.

At the center of this is the long-established but under-the-radar “4/20”, which has been an unofficial day for marijuana smokers for decades.

What was once not-so-subtle backpack patches and amateur artwork in Trapper Keeper binders and on blackboards just raked in millions upon millions in advertising spending.

Not only does this show that corporate America is transitioning from cheeky tweets to full-blown marketing campaigns, it also shows where marijuana and CBD will be breaking into the broader consumer market.

Obviously, a lot of the action was related to food since that has become a preferred method for medical and recreational marijuana use, along with CBD.

There were a handful of marketing campaigns for products that probably won’t be long for this world. Think Four Loko’s hemp-flavored 12% alcohol drink. It doesn’t contain hemp, CBD, or THC at all. But who knows? Certainly they had a focus group.

Then there are the more illuminating tests that companies were doing.

Carl’s Jr. pushed a national campaign for what was actually a one-store-only offer. Customers could buy a CBD-infused burger.

To be honest, I have my doubts about CBD holding up on the molecular level on an insanely hot quick-cook griddle, but adding CBD to a finished food product in any restaurant location is the start of very valuable marketing data.

Also, if it gains traction, it is a good “value added” source of easy revenue.

Then there is the potential for business-to-business deals that can expand sales. Ben & Jerry’s sent out free pints of its Half Baked ice cream today for customers in California who got a delivery from Caliva, which offers marijuana and CBD products.

This is a particularly important space to watch, as we already heard from Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey that the company is very interested in selling more hemp products while expanding into CBD, if federal law becomes more accommodating.

We can expect that to be a perfect testing platform and market entrance for Amazon as well, considering Amazon owns Whole Foods Market in its entirety.

We could keep going with the food list with a wide range of products including CBD-infused popcorn, candies, coffees, and honeys. Then there are the free or discounted food offers if you show up on a certain day. However, those are all just standard product pushing campaigns on par with game day pizza deals.

The pushes into adding CBD to lower-end fast food as a “value added” revenue source, the collaboration for boosting combined sales, and the push into delivery are what to watch for promising sales trends.

Also of interest are some new targets that have seen massive expansions for advertising campaigns.

First up are baby boomers. It isn’t terribly surprising that this is a target for some products. Think CBD products ranging from drops or pills to creams and oils. Also consider how expensive it can be to advertise to the demographic.

According to Adloop, CBD advertisers on its online platform spent just $50,000 last year. That’s up to around $1 million already, marking a 1,900% year-over-year jump.

Moms are also a big target, with a 150% jump year over year from the start of the year until mid-April. Adloop’s data shows the top products are health products to treat conditions like anxiety, nausea, migraines, and insomnia.

We should also look at pet owners, on whom CBD advertisers spent 125% more over a comparable time period last year. This is going to expand far further with the announcement that Canopy Growth is teaming up with Martha Stewart with an initial focus on pet CBD products.

There is a very good reason these brands are testing these markets and pushing large amounts of marketing dollars in this direction.

Marijuana product retail sales in the U.S. grew threefold in 2018 compared to 2017. They should hit $20 billion by 2020.

Hemp-based CBD is expected to match or exceed that total by 2020.

This is serious money and corporate America — at least a smart segment of it — turned a page from bad puns on Twitter to establishing a far more serious presence in the marijuana and hemp product sectors.

This will continue, and it will only be a matter of a few short years before the sector is practically unrecognizable.

With 4/20 as the most recognizable and marketable day associated with marijuana and hemp, we can expect each year to become bigger than the last.

We may not see any Hallmark cards but, for marketers and advertisers, this will be the next big U.S. holiday.

Take care,

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Adam English

follow basic @AdamEnglishOC on Twitter

Adam's editorial talents and analysis drew the attention of senior editors at Outsider Club, which he joined in mid-2012. While he has acquired years of hands-on experience in the editorial room by working side by side with ex-brokers, options floor traders, and financial advisors, he is acutely aware of the challenges faced by retail investors after starting at the ground floor in the financial publishing field. For more on Adam, check out his editor's page

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