Now is the time for cannabis brands to be proactive in planning for the 2020 holiday season. Holiday shopping has been shifting online over the past few years, but the pandemic has left all brands with no choice but to migrate the majority of sales and advertising to the internet. And consumers are already aligned. eMarketer reported that over 80% of 26-38-year-olds already planned on doing the majority of their holiday shopping online this year. 

Cannabis brands will not only be competing with each other for ad space but with some of the world’s most established traditional brands boasting multi-million dollar budgets. With a well-planned promotional strategy targeting the right audiences, you’ll set yourself up for success this holiday season. Here are some best practices to get you there.

Embrace Programmatic 

Cannabis brands have historically been restricted in their digital advertising capabilities, but programmatic serves as a scalable solution. With much room for creativity and sophisticated targeting across both endemic and non-endemic sites, programmatic advertising can help you reach your ideal holiday audience through the wide variety of high-impact placements and quality inventory. Offering a full-funnel opportunity to build brand awareness, maximize budgets and drive sales revenue, programmatic advertising is key to jump-starting your holiday campaigns.

Start Early 

Due to current shipping delays nationwide, consumers are likely to begin shopping online earlier than usual this year. Another reason is that by increasing ad spend in the earlier part of your strategy, you will benefit from accumulating a larger retargeting pool to drive conversions during peak holiday shopping times. Retargeting is essential for driving sales from existing customers and driving brand awareness for converting new customers during the holidays. 

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During last year’s holiday season, 73% of shoppers bought from brands they were already familiar with. On average, it takes a cannabis consumer three weeks from the first time they are delivered a brand’s ad to the time they make a purchase on their site. This year, the most effective programs will begin reaching consumers up to four weeks before the official promotional period kicks in and will also require compelling creativity. 

Create Scalable Messaging

The holidays are a heavy promotional period, which means it takes a lot to cut through and capture attention. And cannabis brands have the added complexity of maintaining compliance. Sitewide and selective discounts were the most popular promotional types of messaging leveraged by brands during the 2019 holiday season, and free shipping and gifts were close runner-ups. 

Cannabis brands should familiarize themselves with cannabis gifting laws before campaign submission, as regulations vary by state and region. If you are set on offering a free perk, the safest way to overcome the idiosyncrasies of cannabis gifting laws is to offer free shipping. To provide a seamless customer experience, ensure that coupon codes are as frictionless as possible and either automatically applied or easy to spell.  Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean that your messaging has to focus on price reductions and discounts either. In fact, 25% of brands in 2019 opted not to even offer any kind of special offer. 

If you are a premium direct-to-consumer cannabis brand, it is important to remember that while discount deals might drive short-term spikes in sales, they can actually serve as counterproductive to your perceived brand equity in the long run. No matter what ads you run, a plan for all holiday creative assets should be completed as early as possible to allow for extra turnaround time on approvals and amendments with your legal or compliance team. 

Reach The Right Audience

Delivering your ads to the right audience will drive success throughout your campaign. This is true of any time of year. CPM’s tend to be highest in Q4 because of increased advertiser demand. Investment into programmatic advertising during the holidays will only produce a positive return if you leverage premium cannabis audience segments likely to take action on your ads. 

Sourced from leading endemic companies, the Fyllo Data Marketplace offers cannabis brands access to two types of previously inaccessible audiences: Endemic audiences (THC/CBD purchasers) and “Infused” audiences (demographic, lifestyle, interest, and brand purchaser audiences enriched with THC/CBD transaction data). Additionally, with the holidays consisting of many different celebrations attracting diverse audiences, you have the power to activate personalized campaigns around each one to reach specific cannabis consumers at various stages in your purchasing funnel. 

The holiday season can be the most wonderful time of year for brands. But only if they’re well-equipped and well-prepared to tackle audience targeting and programmatic advertising. To learn more about how Fyllo can help you with holiday planning, contact our Media Solutions team.

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