Cannabis and community service might not seem like the perfect match at the onset.
However, Millennials and Gen-Z make up an overwhelming percentage of legal cannabis users—48% and 17%, respectively. And these demographics want to see the companies they support giving back to their communities. In fact, 81% of Millennials want to support companies that embrace corporate citizenship, while 86% of Gen-Z report being influenced in purchase decisions by a company’s sustainability practices.
Giuliano Gigliotti, an entrepreneur who works with multiple cannabis dispensaries, has made giving back a cornerstone of his marketing strategies. I spoke with him recently to get his take on how giving back can help a brand succeed.
Shama Hyder: Why is giving back an important element of your brand building?
Giuliano Gigliotti: I prioritize giving back with the companies I work with because our customers want to know that we believe in people over profits. We are here for the people and the consumer—not just to make money.
I believe it’s very important to Gen-Z and Millennials that companies play a positive role in the community and advertise themselves correctly. We spend a lot of time making sure we’re doing that, especially because there’s often a negative stereotype around the marijuana industry.
Hyder: Do you think there’s an advantage for companies that do things like host events and drives, as opposed to donating money?
Gigliotti: Marketing-wise, I believe it’s more effective to do something tangible, like an event or a toy drive, rather than just donating money.
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Here a few reasons why. Throwing an event can give you a chance to come together with other brands in your industry to put on something fun for the community. Donating money is great, but when you provide a toy drive or event you’re taking time and money to go above and beyond for a common cause.
For example, in December 2020 I worked with the company Vader Extracts to host a toy drive with a cannabis dispensary, Apothecary Sherman Oaks. Everyone who brought a toy received cash prizes as well as cannabis products at a 99% discount. We were able to donate more than 400 toys to LAFD Station 88 for their yearly toy charity, and we were able to show our customers that we really value our role in the community as a local business.
A different sort of event I helped to organize was the first annual KushStock, which headlined 2Chainz and JuicyJ. We put on this show free of charge, in partnership with other cannabis companies, to bring our community together.
Not only was it a way to thank our customers for their support, but it also gave us a chance to highlight multiple brands and influencers within the cannabis community.
Hyder: What kinds of marketing initiatives are you working on currently given the state of so many countries with lockdowns, etc.?
Gigliotti: I think it is very important to understand the local community first and start there. Each place has its own rules and restrictions right now so you have to understand those first. I’m working on projects with a few companies in Barcelona, Spain. I’ll be traveling the country to get a better understanding of the different brands and dispensaries, and promote them on their social media platforms. I’ll be working to help them connect with their local marijuana communities.
As Gigliotti says, connecting with a Gen-Z and Millennial audience means living out your brand’s values in a tangible way—no matter what industry you’re in.