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Nov 16, 2016 12:20 PM

Why Investing in Celebrity Branding Is Not Sustainable Anymore

With the constant growth of the marijuana industry, more and more celebrities are getting involved in cannabis businesses. But are the weed brands of popular artists sustainable enough to attract the money of pot cultivators? Some industry experts claim that it is more reasonable to invest in weed phenotyping rather than celebrity-branded pot businesses.

Celebrity-Branding Boost

Visiting your nearest dispensary, you can see many familiar names on the shelves: starting from Willie’s Reserve to Leafs by Snoop to Marley Natural. All these pot brands are extremely popular among the fans of the namesake celebrities, who are very eager to get a piece of the billion-dollar cannabis market.

Pop stars' weed brands are going to become even more widespread now, after three more states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis—California, Nevada, and Massachusetts. In California, such local musicians as Melissa Etheridge and Wiz Kalifa have already launched their cannabis lines. In addition, rapper The Game bought a stake in a local dispensary right before the voting. While these musicians may be great artists, will the products they sell be equally good?

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Al Harrington Supports Marijuana Legalization in California
Al Harrington, former forward of Golden State Warriors who played in the NBA until 2014, stands for marijuana legalization for adult use in California.

Decreasing Price Differences

One significant difference between a celebrity and a regular weed strain is the price. According to Emily Fata, founder of Green Pioneer, cannabis users have to pay more for celebrity products, but the price is not much higher. Research shows that dispensary customers end up paying 17% more for celebrity-branded products than for their non-celebrity alternatives, based on the average costs of edibles, strains, and extracts of Snoop, Willie, and Marley brands.

In her study, Fata demonstrated that with the expected increase of celebrity brand popularity, the marijuana market would become over-saturated with artists' products, and consequently, the manufacturers will have to reduce their prices.

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Seven Celebrities Who Got Financially High in Colorado
Since marijuana received legal status in Colorado, this state has become attractive not only for common cannabis users but also for those who want to start their own business associated with pot. They say, some people, including the celebrities, even moved to Colorado only because of this reason.

Why People Buy Pop-Star Strains?

However, there are also other factors that determine a brand's success and sustainability. Consumers prefer celebrities' products as they are considered more relevant and familiar to the public. When Snoop Dogg came to the cannabis market in 2015, his line of personally branded marijuana increased customer's demand for such strains as Cali Kush and Tangerine Dream, along with several types of weed edibles.

Though Leaf's revenue has stopped rising over the last several months, their products still allure cannabis admirers who are seeking extraordinary experiences. Moreover, Snoop Dogg's fans are sure that the musician will promote only those products that he likes and is sure other weed users will enjoy too.

According to Josh Ginsberg, CEO of Native Roots, most musicians are very peculiar about the marijuana they sell, and some of them even ask cannabis growers for their own strains that can reflect their music. An example of that would be the new hybrid GriZ Kush that the company released after several months of working with Boulder artist GriZ.

Another dispensary chain, GroundSwell, has also launched several weed strains specially developed in corporation with popular musicians. This marijuana has immediately become popular among weed consumers, as people are looking for cool and unique experiences and want to be closer to their celebrities.

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Is Celebrity-Sponsored Weed Efficient Enough?

However, some industry experts are not so optimistic about celebrity-branded cannabis and claim that it is nothing more than just stamping a famous name on a pot strain. They are quite skeptical about the fact that it is possible to breed marijuana that will be resonating with a particular music genre.

Moreover, as more and more celebrities are launching their own cannabis, these products might become less noticeable for the consumer's eyes. Ginsberg supposes that investing into weed phenotypes and growing methodology could be more beneficial than just using celebrity brands.

John Qielch stated in his case study Marketing Marijuana in Colorado that celebrity endorsement is a quite unsustainable marketing model in the long-term but an inevitable stage of the local market development.

Supporting his opinion, Emily Fata suggests that cannabis growers should look for business opportunities in a broader perspective. Considering the fast development of the marijuana industry, it is more reasonable to invest in brands with ground-breaking and authentic values.

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