Is Lifestyle Branding Appropriate for Medical Cannabis?

Lifestyle branding has been a hot trend in marketing for quite some time. It has been used by beer companies, automakers, and just about every other type of business that can find a way to associate its products or services with a particular lifestyle. We even see it in the cannabis space. But is lifestyle branding appropriate here, especially in medical cannabis?

Cookies is one of the more well-known cannabis brands in the U.S. Dispensaries and pharmacies around the country sell at, including the Beehive Farmacy in Salt Lake City, UT. It should be noted that Utah is a medical-only state. Their rules are different compared to those found in recreational states like California and Oregon.

This reality creates an interesting dichotomy for companies like Cookies. They do not produce cannabis exclusively for the medical market. They just produce cannabis. They grow, process, package, and sell it. Whether it is used medically or recreationally depends on where it’s sold and to whom it is sold.

The Point of Lifestyle Branding

Cookies isn’t afraid to advertise the fact that they consider themselves a lifestyle brand. They are perfectly fine with associating cannabis products with a particular lifestyle that appeals to their customer base. Kudos to them. They are practicing a tried-and-true marketing method that has worked successfully for decades.

Lifestyle marketing works because it impacts people where they live. The whole point of this type of marketing is to present customers with a lifestyle they either already enjoy or hope to enjoy in the future. By associating the brand’s products or services with that lifestyle, a company encourages fans of the lifestyle to buy said products or services.

So what is the lifestyle cannabis companies are hoping to promote? We will leave that for them to explain. It is enough to say that it’s a positive one enjoyed by a group of people who believe cannabis should be part of it.

Lifestyle Branding and Medical Cannabis

A company like Cookies relying on lifestyle branding is all well and good when recreational marijuana is the product on tap. But the same type of lifestyle branding could be tricky in the medical cannabis space. To understand why, think of some of the pharmaceutical commercials you’ve seen on TV.

Big pharma is one of the most prolific TV advertisers. One can barely watch for more than 30 minutes without seeing at least one drug commercial. It turns out that many of the commercials are designed around lifestyle branding. The message is simple: take our drugs and you’ll be able to enjoy the type of lifestyle you want despite your current medical condition.

The commercials are benign enough. But have you ever noticed that nearly all of their messages are in some way related to family and/or spending time with friends? Those same messages might not fly with medical cannabis. The cannabis lifestyle is somewhat different. So how do companies market their products without making enemies of the regulators who oversee their industry?

Maintaining the Medical Aspects

A brand might not have such a challenging time with lifestyle branding in a state where both medical and recreational consumption are allowed. Think New York, California, and Colorado. But in a medical-only state like Utah, marketing must maintain a medical aspect. That throws a monkey wrench in the whole lifestyle thing.

Is lifestyle branding appropriate in the medical cannabis space? That’s a question still in search of a definitive answer. People who have yet to warm up to medical cannabis would probably think not. Those already on board are probably in favor.