Should Big Boozy Brands Be Welcome?

You’re probably someone who enjoys alcohol. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but...

By
Jamie Bonthron
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You’re probably someone who enjoys alcohol. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but...

You’re probably someone who enjoys alcohol. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but with about 2.4 billion people sipping the sauce, it’s serious business. So what does that mean for cannabis? Well, in short, some big booze brands that dominate the alcohol industry are getting into green.


As a content agency, thermidor< talks about cannabis brands (and to them) quite a lot, and I thought it might be interesting to take some of what we’ve seen, and see if we can’t figure out if big booze is actually welcome. 

*Spoiler alert* It doesn’t matter if they are – they’re coming in anyway.

If nothing else there’ll be some gifs to keep your brain amused between the wordage.

Sins of The Past

Without getting into a debate over the dangers of alcohol consumption, because we all already have plenty of that in cannabis, I’ll start by looking at some of the bad behaviour these boozy brands have exhibited toward the cannabis industry

A brilliant article from The Intercept highlights the lengths the big alcohol companies, and pharma (but we’re not getting into that today) have gone to in the hopes of quashing legal markets across the States. This is, in large part, due to concerns that a dramatic uptake in cannabis consumption will negatively impact alcohol sales.

Seems kinda reasonable when you put it like that. Sort of. Ahhh who am I kidding? It makes sense for their business – but it sucks for bud.

The big issue is that much of the stigmatisation of cannabis – something that continues to plague the growth of the industry – is down to misinformation. Misinformation that is generated, supported and shared by groups who find it very useful to have some ammunition in the fight against weed.

 

From a rec perspective, you could argue that there is still the illicit market, so if people want to get their hands on cannabis they can – fuck it right?

But where this really stings is on the medicinal side. Patients who would otherwise benefit from medical cannabis can’t get access to it easily, because legislation is informed by political opinion– which is swayed by lobbying groups, which are backed by big businesses.

So if you’ll join me in a little leap, and it is a little one – wherever medical access to cannabis has been or is being hamstrung, is arguablyin part, down to alcohol businesses not wanting to see their top-line dip. 

Separating Brand From Reality

To cloak their past indiscretions, it’s perhaps reasonable to assume that alcohol brands won’t look to make a big splash as they tip their toe in the green pool. Tracking how alcohol brands balance the need to stand out alongside their desire to keep a low profile, at least at the start of their settling in, will be fascinating.

In alcohol, brand is everything. The same goes for CPG goods. On the surface, the companies behind them are essentially selling something that (visually at least) is indistinguishable from competitor products. What good brands know – more than anything else – is who they're selling to and what will move the needle. That’s why you see so many different iterations on the market. 

You’ve got everything from everyman beers and cooking wines, all the way through to your bourgeois gins and party vodkas.

In legal rec markets, cannabis is slowly getting to this point, and there are some downright beautiful brands already out there, finding their niche and speaking to their people. The saving grace though is that most brands in the cannabis industry are so new, they haven’t had much time to get much of a foothold.

The truth is it’s reasonably easy for a well-crafted brand to make you forget what’s gone before, particularly if it’s masked by larger corporate efforts. Creating separation from reality with words has been a tool as long as stories have existed. 

Who Cares?

So that’s the conclusion here – and I know it’s not a particularly satisfying one, but it is where we find ourselves. Big alcohol is going to get into cannabis, despite having spent a fair amount of time and money in the past fighting against it.

However, does backing a ‘healthier alternative’ go some way to assuage any lingering guilt associated with enabling booze binges? Maybe. We’ll have to see if Molson Coors – or whoever gets there first – backs medicinal use or teams up with the Last Prisoner Project.

But the one thing booze brands won’t have when entering the cannabis market is authenticity. A play for cash, backed by a faceless multinational, won’t curry favour with any discerning cannabis consumer, they’re too smart for that.

If you do care though, it just makes sense to shop with independent brands that care about you and the quality of their products. Those businesses that don’t necessarily want to be stocked nationwide, and are happy instead to show off what they do best, closer to home. It’s the way grassroots works.

thermidor< is a creative content agency based in the UK. We do more than just run our podcast, and we might just be your ticket to a more honest way of communicating with your customers, whether you’re growing grams, flogging flowing, shilling software, or handling hardware.

Blog Author
Jamie Bonthron
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