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Cannabis Packaging Trends for 2016

Only a few years into a post prohibition cannabis market, many brands are recognizing the need to upgrade their packaging to remain not only compliant, but more competitive in the newly regulated retail marketplace.

Packaging design is crucial for cannabis brands, as it is often times the first impression with the consumer. With marijuana sales at an all time high, cannabis brands are stepping up their packaging game to influence and educate consumers.

Sustainable Packaging

From recycled glass to post consumer paper, brands are looking to eco-conscious materials, dyes, and containers to stand out on the shelves. Plastic and mylar bags used to be king as an economical, resealable solution for dried cannabis flower. Sustainability has long been at the core of cannabis culture, and many brands are looking to present their green values on full display.

Point of Sale Display

Signage & display at point of sale is extremely valuable real estate in the retail environment. It not only allows for room to support your brand message and educate consumers, but it can be an effective tool to merchandise your products effectively. Retailers are challenged to keep products organized and visible, especially for brands with several product categories. Well designed displays draw the eye and provide brand consistency.

Color and Texture

With brands launching new products on the market and scaling to meet demands, brands have to evolve past their logo, and build strong designs that reach across product families. 2016 is the year for bold, contrasting color combinations, geometric patterns, and matte textures in order to visually catalog strains and flavors, and the end to the monochromatic color schemes and black and white labels.

Simple, Authentic design

Use of personal style is a powerful element in branding. In step with design trends for micro breweries, cideries, and distilleries, the human factor can convey pride of an artisianal craft. Hand written fonts, craft browns, and illustrative graphics evoke a local farm to table feel that is real and authentic. Simplicity is key for clean messaging on packaging, and use of creative labeling on packaging gives brands added dimension.

Anything but Organic

Until federal legalization, the use of the word "organic" is a no-no, as some cannabis brands are learning the hard way. Because the USDA is a federal agency, the certified organic programs are out of reach for brands in legal states. Additionally, the excessive scrutiny and testing for regulated cannabis in comparison to other agricultural markets is causing a lot of concern. Not all pesticides are harmful, but because of recent press, it is a pandora's box of consumer doubt. This has created a trend for brands to assert their clean farming methods on their packaging. Whether Clean Green Certified, or Sun Grown Certified, look for words like sun grown, pesticide-free, all natural, sustainable, clean, and pure to be stamped on everything from edibles to pre-rolls.


Brands are more dynamic than their logo alone, and for brands to resonate with customers, everything from their packaging to their website must tell a cohesive story, supported by strong brand values. If every cereal on the market said they were delicious and good, it would be challenging to get to the core of what is really in that box, or what makes it better than another product. Smart brands are attracting the discerning consumer with a brand voice on packaging with personality and character that sets them apart.

As cannabis packaging design evolves and becomes more sophisticated, over time, brands will be challenged to find innovative ways to stay out of the weeds, and get noticed.

Contact to learn more about taking your new cannabis brand to the next level.

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