This December, the GPA Global team will be exhibiting at MJBizCon, an event that unites legal cannabis professionals from across the world. The convention – which is expected to attract 35,000 people – is coming at a key time for the industry; recent reports have projected growth of 23.9% in the next six years, with the global market reaching an estimated value of $66.3 billion by 2025.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a guide for companies looking to package their cannabis products. If you’re a brand looking for guidance, here are five simple tips to keep in mind.
Tailor the pack to your intended demographic
As with alcohol products, cannabis has to be packaged carefully to ensure it appeals to its intended demographic. Consumers want to be certain that the product they’re buying is safe, reliable and legal, and they’ll seek out packaging that reflects those qualities.
In addition to looking for a pack that is attractive and high quality, cannabis consumers will also typically seek out a familiar packaging format. An edible product that comes in a sealed pouch, for instance, might remind the consumer of a packet of cookies or dried fruit, and will therefore be suggestive of food.
Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind is that cannabis packaging should appeal to adults only. Using bright colors, cartoons, funny slogans, or kid-friendly words runs the risk of attracting children to your product – you may also find yourself in trouble with regulators.
In short: keep it simple, chic and age-appropriate.
Create sustainable packs
For brands trying to stay current, sustainability has never been more important. It’s well known that younger groups are particularly eco-conscious; recent studies have found that Millennials (mid 20s to mid 30s) and Gen Zs (teens to mid 20s) are the groups most committed to buying from brands with a strong environmental track record.
Pair this information with the fact that the majority of cannabis users in the USA are between the ages of 18 and 29, and the picture becomes clear: sustainability should be a key priority for cannabis brands.
Unfortunately, as a fast-growing and increasingly competitive industry, cannabis is associated with a large amount of waste. New brands often make the mistake of opting for the cheapest materials (e.g. non-recyclable plastics) rather than sustainable alternatives.
The truth is that sustainable packaging is the smart move in the long run, even if it might initially require a larger investment. Taking steps towards sustainable packaging will attract a loyal consumer base willing to pay more for their cannabis products.
At GPA Global we work with a range of sustainable materials, including FSC-certified paper, RPET (a durable, lightweight and recyclable plastic), wet pressed pulp, sugarcane bagasse, soy inks and repurposed substrates.
Ensure child safety
We’ve already spoken about the importance of an age-appropriate design on a cannabis pack, but child safety goes beyond appearance. Cannabis packs should be certified as child-resistant, which means they should have undergone testing to demonstrate that they prevent child access. This isn’t just a consumer preference – by January 1st 2020, it will be a legal requirement across every state in the USA.
In response to this specific demand, safety experts working in the industry have developed a variety of innovative methods for keeping children safe. The issue is made more complex as many consumers of cannabis are elderly or disabled, which means the pack must be resistant to children, while remaining accessible for adults who may have problems with mobility or dexterity.
Specific legal requirements will vary depending upon where you are manufacturing your product, but generally a child-resistant product is designed to be difficult for children under five to open. It will typically be opaque, closable (if designed for more than one use), and appropriately labeled.
Some common safety measures currently used within the industry are exit bags (opaque, sealed pouches to carry the product out of the retail environment), push-and-twist caps, and metal tins.
Once you’ve developed these features for your product, it’s essential that you put the product through rigorous child safety testing; typically this should be carried out by a third party company.
Adhere to labeling regulations
Cannabis products occupy a unique space in the market, falling somewhere between food, alcohol and pharmaceuticals. With regulations being different across the USA and the rest of the world, it’s vital that cannabis brands accurately label their products according to local regulations.
With this in mind, a packaging brief should take into account the room needed to correctly label your product. If the text isn’t clear and legible, it might as well not be there!
Be prepared to adapt
As we’ve already discussed, cannabis regulations vary hugely from city to state to country – and they’re changing all the time.
To stay ahead of the curve, cannabis brands should be ready to roll out changes in packaging and labeling at the drop of a hat. Additionally, brands can future-proof against delays and regulatory fines by going beyond the current requirements. For example, where your company is based, it might not currently be necessary to carry out third party safety checks, but that may change in a matter of months. Implementing rigorous safety checks now could save you time and money down the line.
Find out more about how you can package your cannabis product by getting in touch with GPA Global today.
Author: Ivona Baxter
Published: 28 November 2019