As cannabis goes mainstream, the industry will likely see a shift in focus away from THC-heavy strains to CBD-focused products. Many are suggesting that this move towards CBD is an intentional ploy by large corporations looking to “codify” their brands as drugless for consumption outside of states where recreational or medical marijuana has been legalized. Is this just another case of Big Cannabis manipulating consumers?

The “trojan condoms” is a term that has been used to describe the CBD industry. The “Trojan Horse” is a term that has been used to describe cannabis as it enters mainstream society. Industry experts discuss the future landscape of cannabis brands.



Mary Ellen Schrock, brand advocate at Vibe Growth, told her colleagues on a panel dubbed “The Trends Dictating the Future Landscape of Cannabis Brands” at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in New York City last week that it was time for the next generation of cannabis branding. (Originally posted by Nina Zdinjak on Benzinga)

Madison Fiore, Hawke Media’s head of growth, Peter Barsoom, 1906’s CEO and co-founder, and Jamie L. Pearson, CEO and president of Bhang Inc., were among the other panelists. The discussion was conducted by Jon Purow of Zuber Lawler, who specializes in cannabis regulatory and commercial issues.  

Companies must concentrate on the retail side of the business without a brand’s distinctiveness, according to Schrock, who noted that there are two things to consider when establishing a successful cannabis brand in highly competitive markets like California: 1) guaranteeing quality, and 2) gaining customer confidence. This may be accomplished via vertical integration or by adopting a “holistic approach.”

What Is Cannabis 3.0, and How Does It Work? 

“There has been very little development in how we smoke flower,” Barsoom said, explaining that the majority of the modifications throughout the years were really part of an agricultural evolution aimed at increasing production and potency. The act of smoking marijuana, on the other hand, hasn’t altered much.

When it comes to Cannabis 2.0, it’s all about “flavored marijuana,” according to Barsoom, who added that there are a variety of candies and chocolates to choose from. As a result, “Cannabis 3.0 is what we consider to be really functional cannabis.”

Cannabis 3.0 is primarily targeted at individuals who aren’t seeking to get high; it’s not only about smoking; it’s also about finding alternatives to the booze and medicines that the majority of people consume and use to cope with daily difficulties.

According to the panel’s experts, here is where new fast-acting technology, various kinds of administration methods, and the introduction of small cannabinoids will bring greater innovation and usefulness. The industry is attempting to get a better knowledge of the customer, rather than just capturing current behavior.

CBD as a Trojan Horse in Product Selection 

When developing a product, one of the most essential things to remember is that “you can’t always innovate solely on what customers want; you have to know what’s feasible,” as Pearson put it. The absence of research is one of the reasons cannabis businesses are still operating under prohibition. “We don’t know what these products’ consequences are.” That’s why, according to Pearson, Bhang is wary of using effect-based marketing until more evidence is available worldwide.

“We’re going to stick to what we know how to do best, which is create great products.” Customers want continuity at the end of the day, she said, adding that Bhang has been in the CBD industry for ten years and that people have been seeking stability during that period. “As a result, navigating rules is a component of the product selection process. “We planned to utilize CBD as a Trojan horse.”

Intellectual Property and Marketing 

Because of the nature of the business and associated regulations, the cannabis industry suffers from a lack of promotion.

Because they are unable to engage in e-commerce, most of the top companies do not devote as much time and effort to content development and community nurturing, according to Fiore. Because there are less restrictions in the CBD market than there are in the THC space, several companies are expanding their CBD product lines.

“If you want to avoid a roster of attorneys and lots of litigation,” Barsoom says, consumer acceptance is the greatest kind of intellectual property protection. Consumers who want to purchase your goods because of how well they function and deliver on their promises are the greatest kind of protection.

Despite the obvious lack of intellectual property rights in the cannabis industry, Barsoom’s true problem is a lack of product or brand distinction. He said, “Most of what we see is simply a brand on a box.”

It’s always been about what we’re providing to customers, the promise that we’re making, such as fast-acting and giving a particular impact, according to Barsoom. This is accomplished via the use of various plant medicines that have undergone extensive clinical testing.

Pearson emphasized the need of intellectual property protection in this sector, citing Bhang’s experience with individuals attempting to steal their brand.

“You must safeguard your brand.” If you’re going public, I believe it’s a moral obligation for your shareholders,” she said.

The Challenge of Consistency 

Because various states have varied soil and growth circumstances, the THC concentration of the same strains may vary dramatically. So, how can companies maintain brand consistency throughout the country?

“It’s simple; I’m in charge of the supply chain,” Pearson said. She stated that their formulae work with everything, and that if they control the whole supply chain, they can produce the identical product in any state.

The Importance Of The Budtender’s Job 

Pearson added, “There are two buckets of cannabis consumers.”

Cannabis users and those that are interested in learning more about cannabis. 

While cannabis users know precisely what they want, the canna-curious will inquire as to what is excellent, giving the budtender a lot of influence.

“As a result, as a brand, you must advertise in two ways: to the customer and to the budtender,” Pearson said.

At the end of the day, cannabis is a consumer packaged goods item, therefore companies must advertise their products to budtenders in a unique manner. Consider a $2,000 Airbnb competition to see who can sell the most items.

Fiore agreed that the budtender’s position was critical.

“So, in whatever way you can, shower love on budtenders.” 

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