The legal cannabis market is exploding, with 30% growth in 2016 to $6.7 billion, and with it, the range of marijuana brands and products available—including buds, concentrates, oils, edibles, and beverages, to name a few. As with any consumer packaged goods product, as competition has grown, marijuana brands have begun using increasingly sophisticated marketing strategies to differentiate themselves on (the dispensary) shelf.
Toast is one such brand that has meticulously developed the product form, effects, and packaging to deliver one integrated brand experience. Explains Gabrielle Rein, Chief Creative Officer of the Aspen, CO-based marketing and packaging company, “Toast is the first cannabis company to provide consumers with an experience that is both social and responsible. …Toast is an affordable luxury, similar to the positioning of Patron in the alcohol industry. That is, a high-end product that is attainable by a wide variety of demographics, including first-time users, social users, and consumers looking for a trusted option to consume cannabis responsibly.”
Toast comes in the form of a 100% cannabis cigarette, or “Slice” in Toast parlance, meant to be enjoyed by a single person; it comes in a box of 10 for sharing. The cigarette has a low potency and is portioned to leave the consumer “feeling great yet in control—akin to having a glass of champagne,” says Rein. Like luxury champagne, Toast is meant to facilitate socialization, celebration, and positive experiences through responsible and controlled consumption.
Says Rein, “Toast was designed to be like an old luxury European tobacco brand with a new and positive twist.”
Befitting the brand’s affordable luxury promise, the cigarette box-style package for Toast was inspired by the golden age of 1920s, says Rein, “with all the glamorous jazz and swing parties and luxurious old-fashioned cigarette cases.” The package is made from a high-quality paperboard, with a front panel that flips open and then can be securely closed via a magnetic strip. The box is decorated by a proprietary European supplier with gold foil, screen printing, and embossing.
Adorning both the box and the cannabis cigarette are gold foil-stamped butterfly illustrations that Rein says were inspired by butterfly kisses: “The product has a softness to it. It’s delicate, almost ethereal—a gentle touch that will not weigh you down. The icon is a social butterfly; Toast is all about being social and sharing experience.”
The cigarette itself is made from a hemp tube, with a custom-designed filter, filled with a blend of multiple strains of marijuana that are mildly potent and curated by licensed growers to deliver the ideal experience. The cigarette is decorated with elegant graphics that mirror the box.
Toast was launched in Aspen in February 2017 and since then has grown to other cities across the state. At the dispensary, the product is placed in a child-resistant, reclosable exit bag after purchase to meet regulatory requirements.
Rein says the response to the packaging for Toast has been exactly what the company hoped for: “Consumers love the packaging. From the beautiful, sleek box to the magnetic opening to the gorgeous Slices, the first reaction is almost always, ‘Wow, that’s beautiful.’”