“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” is a cliche, but it can be a powerful business tool. Rightly or wrongly, the alcohol and cannabis industries can seem at odds with each other, and there is some evidence that the liberalization of cannabis laws does indeed lead to lower alcohol sales. States that legalized medicinal use experienced a 15% decrease in monthly alcohol sales from 2006 to 2015 according to a study that utilized Nielsen Retail Scanner alcohol sales data from 90 alcohol chain stores while a recently published survey found that Canadians are using cannabis more (or at least willing to admit to using) while beer consumption has gone down.
Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery, experiencing usage trends firsthand, has launched an ad campaign that embraces legal cannabis, bringing the cannabis community and craft beer communities together. This marketing push comes after the company acknowledged to The Bend Bulletin last year that cannabis legalization was hurting sales “I believe cannabis has affected sales,” said Deschutes Brewery CEO Michael LaLonde. “It’s so potent today. Someone might go and have a beer and do some edibles, and the combination of those two things means they don’t consume as much alcohol.”
You can watch the ads, featuring a Martha-Stewart-like spokesperson here:
Adweek covered the humorous, historic marketing push:
“This campaign celebrates not only our humor and creativity but our Pacific Northwest roots. It’s a way to reaffirm and honor our heritage and ignite our future in craft beer,” said brewery founder Gary Fish.
Deschutes vp of marketing Neal Stewart said the campaign is “drawing attention to the healthy tension between craft beer and cannabis and proving that the two industries, which some may think are competitive, can play nice with each other if consumed responsibly.”
“People are going to enjoy recreational cannabis, but we want to remind them that this is still one of, if not the, best place on Earth to enjoy a beer—and Deschutes helped put the craft brewing industry on the map,” said Stewart. This sentiment keeps with a recent Adweek profile that explored how Fish has been challenging the dominance of Big Beer before “craft” was even a common category.
We can expect more alcohol companies to embrace cannabis in its advertising as they realize the economic benefits they can experience, especially as we see such companies invest in cannabis, like we’ve witnessed in cannabis. The embrace can also work both ways. In competitive marijuana markets, cannabis companies may want to utilize creative ad campaigns that bring in beer, wine, and spirits drinkers. While cannabis legalization may decrease alcohol sales, alcohol isn’t going away and attracting drinkers can benefit cannabis companies’ bottom lines (and probably the health of the consumer).
If you want to learn the latest about the cannabis industry, including how to best market your company and products, the International Cannabis Business Conference is THE industry event for you. Join us in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, this September 15-16. Discounted early-bird tickets are available until August 21st.