If you own and operate a cannabis business in Michigan, it’s high time you invested in branding and marketing.

A lot has changed in the three years since Michigan’s first provisioning center opened. And like the Wolverine State’s many other unique features, the cannabis industry has been largely ignored by out-of-staters. Instead, MSOs made big plays in markets like Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts rather than Michigan. 

Thankfully, this provided the perfect growth environment for home-grown success stories like Lume. They established a strong position without the pressure that startups in Illinois had to deal with (1). 

The Michigan market is on track to surpass $1.2 billion this year, and now, for better or worse, the cat is out of the bag. (2) Large and mid-size MSOs have noticed, and they are beginning to make big moves into Michigan with new openings or acquisitions. 

(3) In most established markets, normalization and saturation occurred around the 4-5 year mark. But based on the rapid growth, the numbers point to market maturity happening much sooner in Michigan. And what key factor is critical to not just surviving but thriving in a saturated, competitive cannabis market? A powerful brand and exceptional marketing. 

Oregon is an excellent example.

At one point Oregon had a market surplus of flower that was measured in tons. Thanks to the low cost to license applications and no limits on the number issued, the wholesale prices for a pound dropped below $400 in August of 2018 (4). It was an extremely challenging environment, and many operators went out of business. 

But branding and marketing are the common thread that connected the winners in Oregon. Consider these businesses:

These businesses didn’t wait until August of 2018 to invest in branding and marketing. By then, it was too late. The right time to make that investment is before you actually need it. That’s what helped them survive market turbulence. It takes time to build a strong brand and a well-performing marketing program! 

Undoubtedly, the most valuable brand in cannabis, Cookies,, took years of consistently powerful messaging to reach their current coveted status. 

One of our partners in Maryland recently purchased the license to operate a Cookies store there. They didn’t do that because Cookies logo is a nice shade of blue. They did it because the Cookies brand is so valuable that it will help them sell more product and generate more revenue. 

And channels like email marketing, take time to get to a point where they can be a significant engagement activity and generate a healthy sales response. Same with SEO; the payoff with that activity happens at a scale of a year or more, not days or weeks. 

Established players like Lume will be fine. Their market dominance (or at least heavy presence) is protected as long as they continue operating the way they are today. It’s the smaller Michigan licensees that are going to feel the squeeze of the market first. They will soon be playing against competitors with much bigger budgets that can simply buy their way in rather than build a foothold over time (like the locals have). 

Sozo exteriorIs the right option to move forward by building or expanding a powerful internal design + marketing team? It could be, for some businesses. But consider that going this route takes time, costs a lot of money, and comes with a high degree of risk. And you’ll probably still need an agency or vendor for some specialties. An agency is the best option for most to get an effective branding and marketing effort moving quickly. 

We believe we’re the best branding and marketing agency in the industry, and we’ve committed to helping cannabis businesses in Michigan. Set up a time to discuss your needs, and we can tell you why. No pressure, no sales, just a talk.