Cannabis Packaging: Attractive, Compliant and Profitable

Written by Natural Brilliance

Packaging can seriously impact your sales profits, by affecting your consumer’s perceptions of your brand. How does this happen? For one thing, the purchase decisions made in-store are made unconsciously. Yes, while traditional packaging methods are betting on your consumer’s use of logic, rationality and reason, eye-tracking tests have revealed some surprising findings. These findings indicate that your consumers are making their purchases based on emotion and instinct.

More importantly, the decision to purchase is done subconsciously. This means that the majority of the time, your consumer is not even aware of their decision to buy or not to buy your product. In fact, these decisions are made within three to seven seconds, and based on reactive instinct. Paul Scheele, in his book “Natural Brilliance”, talks about people unconsciously absorbing new skills/abilities  directly from books in a method called “implicit learning”. Essentially, the brain is able to pick up billions of bits of information, much faster than we can consciously be aware of. Not only that, but this enables the brain to cause new behavior that is influenced by non-conscious awareness.

What does all of this mean?

It means that your packaging not only needs to look attractive, but it also needs to be functional. Through your packaging, you have the opportunity to communicate with your consumers on a whole-brain basis. You’re not just targeting their sense of rationality, logic and reason. You’re also communicating with your consumer’s subconsciously. (No, you don’t have to become a psychologist to use and understand psychological buying principles.)


Creating Successful Cannabis Product Packaging:

You need five key ingredients to cook up attractive, compliant and profitable packaging.


  1. Attractive Appeal & Attention– Here you can be as innovative, artistic and creative as you want, within the limits of compliance laws, of course. Create a theme with pictures and colors that take positioning into account. For example, if you want your product to be perceived as jovial and festive, then you’ll want to think about using bright colors and images of people laughing or smiling. Your goal is to get your consumers to not only notice your product, but to also trigger positive emotions of trust and loyalty. You want to think outside of the box and see if you can come up with unique and interesting ways to catch attention. Study some of your competitors, especially the ones that are thriving. What kind of packaging are they using? Test out some of their products, and note down your feelings. Look at products that you use and love. What drew you to the packaging? A good example of great product packaging is Magnum Ice Cream. The white chocolate flavor comes in black and gold packaging, radiating emotions of prestige, stability and power – all that from just ice cream.
  2. Practicality – Once again, innovation and creativity are key. However you want to also keep in mind that the packaging has to be practical. It needs to be designed around your product. Not only does it need to be attractive and appealing, but it has to be functional as well. To get a better sense of this, think about how eggs come in cartons and not plastic bags. On the other hand, milk can be packaged in plastic or glass bottles without affecting the quality.
  3. Informational – Your packaging needs to fully communicate its contents to your market. This means you’ll need to include sales copy on the packaging to inform your buyers as to what it is they are purchasing. This can include a list of materials or ingredients, logo, and a short bio of the company. It’s really easy to miss this, but it’s very important that you let people know exactly what they are paying for. This helps to avoid confusion, returns and even lost sales. Have you ever had to go through the hassle of returning a product, because the packaging did not adequately (or truthfully) describe what it was you were getting?
  4. Branded – Most importantly, you want to be consistent with your marketing and branding methods. For example, if Eco-friendliness is part of your brand, why not think about using minimal packaging or even recycled material? If you have a premium brand that is considered luxurious, then why not think about using thank you cards or fancy boxes? If your brand is modern, hip and trip, then think about creating funny product names or atypical packaging. You want your consumers to see your packaging and instantly recognize your product as coming from your brand. Think about the various special edition Coca-Cola cans produced every year, for example. While they all look different, they also all have a consistency that enables you to instantly recognize any of them as coming from the Coca-Cola brand.
  5. Compliant– Your packaging is regulated by the laws in your state. While every state is different about the requirements for cannabis product packaging, they all have the same goal in mind. This goal is to prevent accidental usage by children or people who are not authorized to use the product. This can be a challenge, as the law wants you to make your packaging as unattractive to children as possible. Therefore, you are a bit limited as to how you can make your designs look, however, this should not stop you from being able to create successful packaging.


A few key points to summarize and keep in mind include talking to retailers about requirements that they may have regarding weight, size and shape. Also, keep in mind that if you’re shipping and selling  business-to-business, then packaging flair is not as important. However, your packaging must still remain consistent with the price and quality of your brand. For example, you wouldn’t wrap a fancy Rolex watch in a brown paper bag, would you?

Another point to keep in mind is that packaging comes in layers. You have the container that protects and houses the product, the outer packaging and the shipping container, also known as the master carton. Your product packaging should consist of:

  1. Product container – plastic case, cardboard box, bottle, etc.
  2. Outer packaging – this holds your product and displays information about it.
  3. Inside protective material – foam, plastic, bubble wrap, etc.
  4. Label Information – may include logo, sales copy, product name, company name, price, awards, testimonials, ingredients, warnings, UPC code, instructions, etc.
  5. Master carton – holds and protects quantities of product. Make your packaging easy to transport and carry.
  6. Shipping Information – printed on shipping container and can be company name, handling instructions, product weight and quantity, etc.

Your packaging should emphasize the benefits of purchasing your brand with images that communicate productivity, a better life, safety, saving of time and money. If you have something unique, then be sure to emphasize that in your packaging design. Don’t forget that you can use all five senses in your design. For example, you could have a unique shape that your product comes in. Or you could explore different textures of packaging, such as a rough, felt surface as opposed to a smooth, shiny, and glossy surface. Design your packaging with lighting in mind. Will it be seen in fluorescent or incandescent lighting? Contact packaging vendors and discuss with them your needs and projects. Make a list of packaging requirements and sketch out possible designs that you can now take to various packaging vendors and discuss. You can look in the Yellow Pages for Package Design and Development companies or you can look for vendors on the Packaging Digest website. It’s usually best to find one that’s local, so you can meet with someone in person. Not only that, a local packaging company near your product will save you money and time by reducing your shipping costs.


In order to help with planning your packaging, you can use this handy template as a guide:

  • Clearly state your objectives of packaging. Is it sell, educate or inform?
  • Detail the information and images on the outer package with logos, awards, benefit bullet points, testimonials, etc.
  • Illustrate the size and shape. Is it round, flat, square, rectangular?
  • List the materials that will comprise your outer package. Is it metal, glass, plastic or cardboard?
  • Detail the interior contents. Aside from the product, is there bubble wrap, or foam to protect it? Is there a user manual? Will you include coupons?




Natural Brilliance. Overcome Any Challenge At Will. (Scheele, Paul. Ch. 9, pg 100-107)

Product Idea to Product Success. A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making Money from Your

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Natural Brilliance