When did you last listen to a podcast?
If you’re like one in three Americans, it was this month. In 2019, podcasting went mainstream, with more than half of the U.S. population listening to podcasts on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, and other audio apps. It is an innovative and personable way for brands to create positive relationships with new consumers.
Podcasts are a growing platform for cannabis brands to connect intimately with consumers. For the cannabis industry to thrive, we need to meet consumers where they are today. As that listener demand continues to grow, here are five reasons podcast marketing is the future and why cannabis brands should implement it.
1. Untapped advertising channel
Podcasts are free from the restrictions on digital advertising and social media channels faced by cannabis brands.
Cannabis industry entrepreneurs may feel frustrated after facing massive challenges in marketing. Whether it is getting shut down by social media platforms, or trying to justify spending on outdoor advertising, but unsure if that brand awareness will translate into sales. And then, an advertising challenge has been added in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic with the loss of event marketing strategies.
Don’t overlook one of today’s fastest-growing marketing channels, with attractive demographics and engaged consumers seeking to be both educated and entertained: podcasts. The medium is growing more and more every day. It provides an economical way for brands to make a big impact with listeners. Podcasts geared to new consumers and focused on solving their challenges with stress, sleep, and sex are entrants to a landscape once dominated by industry-focused Q&A shows. Story-driven podcasts connect with a mainstream audience eager to bring cannabis into their daily lives.
2. Build trust through a host-listener connection
Are you on a first-name basis with your favorite podcast host? If you’re a podcast fan, you know how strong the connection is between the listener and the host. For many new consumers curious about cannabis — after a long break, or to solve a health-related issue — it remains a word-of-mouth industry. When people find out I work in cannabis, their first question is: “what weed should I buy?”
Data from 2018 shows that 54 percent of listeners consider making a purchase from brands advertised on podcasts. In the early days of podcasting, savvy start-ups like Squarespace and Mailchimp used audio marketing to build brand awareness and attract new customers with host-read podcast ads and sponsored shows. Today, cannabis companies have a clear opportunity to build trust and strong, long-lasting brands by partnering with podcasts.
3. Stories change hearts and minds
Currently, most cannabis podcasts speak to cannabis consumers or industry insiders. The cannabis industry still struggles to attract new consumers who, even in legal markets, may feel stigma and fear around consuming. As Gen Z, women, and older Americans incorporate cannabis into their daily lives for stress, sleep, and sex, new stories reflect the many ways cannabis impacts our lives and culture today.
With How to Do the Pot, A Modern Woman’s Guide to Legal Cannabis, we interview cannabis entrepreneurs like Julia Jacobson of Aster Farms, who uses cannabis for better sleep; Valerie Šakota from Barbari, who gives her tips for getting relief from chronic migraines. Real stories shed light on how the plant has changed lives for the better. Being successful entrepreneurs, it helps in opening minds and reprogramming long-held beliefs.
4. Discreet discovery
Cannabis brands face the daunting challenge of selling products and trying to educate consumers on the benefits of THC and CBD. While more consumers experience social media fatigue or re-consider screen time, they still expect high-quality content on demand. Podcasts bring to life information that might otherwise be skimmed over or easily forgotten. Investing in high production value and a narrative podcast style helps match listeners’ expectations for entertainment and education.
The effect is subtle but impactful. Customizing the experience you want with cannabis requires experimentation, and hearing new concepts in the privacy of your earbuds feels comfortable. Listeners are more open to making a purchase or researching what they’ve learned. Plus, it’s flexible – listen on a walk, while doing dishes, or in the car.
5. Attractive demographics
Listen up: podcasts are now considered mainstream. For the first time, in 2019, over half of the U.S. population listened to a podcast, and today, 1 in 3, more than 90 million people, listen to podcasts monthly. Certainly appealing numbers to marketers, and data from Edison Research shows that listener growth continues to grow and broaden.
Age 12-24 – 40 percent listen monthly, up from 30 percent in 2018
Age 25-55 – 39 percent listen monthly, up from 32 percent in 2018
Age 55+ – 17 percent listen monthly, up from 13 percent in 2018
Women are an increasingly attractive demographic in podcasting, and they are an underserved market in cannabis. Over 48 million women listened to a podcast last month, up from 34 million in 2018. They are educated, with a median of nearly half earning over $75,000 per year. The data found women listen to an average of seven podcasts per week. 70 percent of women choose podcasts to be entertained or to learn.
Tapping into a medium known for authentic, personal connection gives consumers an opportunity to be educated without judgment, on their terms — like hearing about cannabis from a friend. Whether it’s a conversational 60-second advertisement or a sponsored season of a favorite podcast, take a break from the cycle of social media, outdoor advertising or events and consider listening your way to new loyal customers.
April Pride and Ellen Scanlon Co-Founded Of Like Minds in 2019, intent on creating a platform where they could share what they know about cannabis with like-minded women who were curious about cannabis.