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Everything You Need to Know About Cannabis Brand Swag Regulations

When you were younger, did you ever go to a friend’s birthday party and get sent home with a bag of goodies after it was over? This bag would often be filled with treats that followed the party’s theme, whether that be plastic jewelry, pens, notepads, or, of course, candy and other sweets. Now that […]

Cannabis Brand Swag Regulations

When you were younger, did you ever go to a friend’s birthday party and get sent home with a bag of goodies after it was over? This bag would often be filled with treats that followed the party’s theme, whether that be plastic jewelry, pens, notepads, or, of course, candy and other sweets.

Now that we are older, most birthday parties don’t send us home with gift bags anymore. Instead, you are more likely to get a gift bag when you attend a networking event or a conference made possible by specific vendors. These bags are filled with branded merchandise for you to take home and use.

These are swag bags. And they are an essential marketing tool, especially for cannabis retailers and manufacturers.

Below, we’ll dive into what swag bags are, how to decide what products to fill yours with, and why you should use them. Plus, the cannabis industry faces unique regulations that can impact your swag; we’ll see how and offer tips to help you stay compliant.

What Is Swag?

Simply put, swag is promotional material that businesses use to promote their brand. They typically include branded promotional products that are given to employees, current customers, and potential customers.

Their goal? To increase brand recognition and customer engagement and attract new customers to their products.

Swag can include a variety of products, such as:

  • Stickers
  • Clothing
  • Accessories tailored to your industry
  • Notepads
  • Writing utensils like pens and pencils

As you choose the specific swag products you want to offer, you’ll need to keep some things in mind. But we’ll go over how to fill your swag bags in a later section.

There are many ways to give swag to people in your market. Here are some ideas:

  • Give swag as a gift with a customer’s first purchase.
  • Include a small swag gift with any purchase or with the purchase of specific items.
  • Make swag products part of your rewards tiers in your customer loyalty program.
  • Give new employees branded products as they come on board.
  • Share swag with employees throughout the year to show appreciation for their hard work.
  • Fill swag bags to give away at promotional events.
  • Make swag bags to give away at any event or conference you attend.
  • Have a swag section on your online retail store, allowing customers to purchase pieces they like.

The ways you can utilize your swag are endless, subject only to your imagination.

Why You Need Swag for Your Business

The Case for Why You Need Swag for Your Business

All of this sounds good, right? But is it really worth it to create and purchase all these branded products? The answer is a very passionate “yes.”

Studies have shown that swag and the use of promotional products help keep your brand in customer’s minds. Plus, depending on what you give, they can become a very effective marketing tool, as people will unknowingly help spread the word of your business.

Here are some stats to show the importance of swag when it comes to business:

  • Eighty-five percent of consumers keep any promotional product they receive for more than one year.
  • Eighty-five percent of people also say they remember the name of a company that has given them swag.
  • Fifty percent of people own clothing that features a brand logo on it.
  • Fifty percent of people also own a writing utensil (pen, pencil, highlighter, or other) that features a brand.

With numbers like these, it’s not hard to see how promotional materials given to employees and customers can benefit you.

Your company will stay at the forefront of their minds. Every time they use the pen you gave them or light up using a branded cannabis lighter, they’ll remember you. Because you gave them something useful, they are likely to go to your site or store to shop when they need something.

Many customers report that receiving swag gives a better impression of your company than simple, traditional advertising channels give. The more highly customers think of you, the more likely they are to buy more from you and recommend your products to friends.

Also, the cannabis industry, in particular, faces unique regulations and restrictions when it comes to marketing efforts. Because cannabis is not legal at a federal level, national commercials promoting your business are not allowed. Plus, at a state level, many governments don’t allow marketing in print, on the television, or on the radio. Or if they do, there are some strict criteria you need to meet. That can mean that the swag you give out may be one of your only forms of marketing.

Choosing the Right Swag Products: What You Need to Remember

As you can see, the value of swag is great, and it is an invaluable marketing tool for your cannabis business. But it is essential that you choose the right products as part of your swag options.

Here are some tips and factors to consider as you choose your swag products:

  1. Know your audience. Knowing your target audience is essential when selecting the types of products you want to purchase as swag. This also means you’ll likely need different pieces for different events. Your loyalty program audience will value different items than those you give away at a convention. Think about what is important to your audience and use that knowledge to choose the best products.
  2. Make it useful as well as fun. You will want to strike a balance between having fun swag items and useful swag items. While fun items are unique and a great way to catch the eye of new customers, practical items are also important. You’ll want something people find valuable and will use; then, they’ll think of you when they use it. Your swag bags, general swag offerings, and swag used in your loyalty program should be a nice mix between useful and fun.
  3. Ensure it is high-quality swag. Giving swag to people that breaks immediately or is of poor quality is not a good idea. This can leave potential customers with a bad impression of your brand, and they may think all your products are of poor quality. As you purchase swag, make sure it is high quality so that your company makes an excellent first impression and a lasting one.
  4. Make sure it complements your brand. The swag you offer should relate to your brand. Now, giving something like a pen is a good evergreen option; you’ll want to make sure the look of the pen fits your brand (making it green, for example). Plus, the product should be helpful in what you sell. For example, it would be odd if a roofing company gave you a shirt with a picture of a dog on it. As a cannabis brand, keep in mind what your customers will find helpful and use that knowledge to drive your choices.  
  5. Make it unique. The cannabis industry is quite crowded, and competition is fierce. Find a product that has a unique and helpful feature, or a unique yet useful product, to offer your customers. This can help you stand out and attract more customers. Working with a swag partner can help you find fun and interesting ideas.
  6. Make sure it has room for your logo. The entire point of swag is to function as promotional material. As such, you will want to make sure your logo can fit on the item, is readable, and maybe even has information on where people can find you (within restrictions). Ask if your swag company can show you a mock-up of what your product will look like with your logo on to ensure it meets your brand’s standards.
  7. Choose something that will last. While this isn’t really related to how your customers perceive your swag, it is an important note for you, a cannabis company. Many swag retailers have minimum purchase amounts and offer discounts when you order more items. So, make sure you choose something that will last, as you will likely be giving these out for a while. Pens, rolling trays, even clothing can be long-lasting, making them good options.

Restrictions You Need to Know

Restrictions You Need to Know

For cannabis brands, choosing your swag products is just the first step. You also have the added responsibility of staying compliant in your logo design and marketing in general.

As you wade into the swag and promotional material market, keep these things in mind:

  • Each state has its own regulations and restrictions, and you are responsible for being compliant in every state you operate in.
  • Your products should not appeal to minors. This is a common law between the majority of states that have legalized cannabis.
  • If you promote your social media or website, you may face restrictions on what you can list and promote on these channels.
  • Because your swag will contain your logo, it is essential that your logo be compliant with state regulations.

The Cost of Being Out of Compliance

If your branding is found to be out of compliance, your business can face various penalties based on the state you are in. Your company could have fines imposed on it, or your operating license could be revoked.

Beyond this, if your business is fined due to violations, your reputation in the industry can suffer. Customers will lose trust and likely start shopping at other retailers who are known for staying compliant.

Finally, if something like your logo is found to be non-compliant, you can lose money. You will need to redesign your logo, which can be costly, then replace everything with the old logo. If you have a ton of swag with your old logo, you’ll need to replace it all and be out of the money you spent initially.

Tips to Stay Compliant

Tips to Stay Compliant and Ahead of Changing Regulations

The cannabis industry is constantly changing. New laws can be signed into effect with little or no notice. It is up to you to ensure your company remains compliant with new laws. Plus, you don’t want to miss out if a new law eases some restrictions.

But how can you keep up with this ever-changing landscape? The short answer is to bring in some help.

Some companies find it beneficial to hire legal counsel who can help monitor legal changes and keep them informed. They can also help guide you with any other legal questions you have along the way when it comes to operating a cannabis business. You will need to decide what your budget can handle as you look for help.

You can also work with professional partners to help you design your logo and create your swag. They have experience in the industry and are well-versed in the regulations you must follow. Having someone partner with you can give you peace of mind your company is complying with regulations.

In addition, you can also set up news alerts for specific keywords in your area. You could choose something like “cannabis law” to alert you so you stay up to date.

Combining all three of these options is a great way to ensure you stay compliant in your swag products, your brand, and even the way you operate in general. As with any business, being knowledgeable in your industry is a huge benefit.

Final Thoughts on Swag and the Cannabis Industry

Swag is an effective marketing tool for all businesses, cannabis ones included. It is a great way to build loyalty with existing customers, reach potential new ones, and reward employees.

In addition to choosing the right swag products, you have the added responsibility of ensuring your brand and your swag is compliant. Many states have restrictions around how your logo can look, and since your swag will contain your logo, ensuring it meets any outlined criteria is important.

You’ll also need to meet other regulations, like ensuring your swag products don’t appeal to minors or make it into their hands.

Staying ahead of the many regulations in the cannabis industry can be a challenge. That’s why bringing in professionals and taking steps to ensure you are well informed on changes in the industry are so important.