February 01, 2018

Hippo Premium Packaging: Taking Marijuana Marketing Mainstream

CannabisTech had an opportunity to speak with the CEO and Co-founder of Hippo Premium Packaging, Kary Radestock, about their end-to-end branding and packaging solution for cannabis businesses.



Although branding and packaging may not seem like a complex endeavor in the grand scheme of cannabis production, with the complicated regulations imposed on labeling and child-resistance, many new cannabis businesses fall short. Often businesses may have the budget for marketing, but without the proper guidance and the right partners, their marketing solutions are not as good as they can be. Hippo Premium Packaging hopes to change this by incorporating mainstream marketing solutions into the cannabis industry.

 

Recognizing the Need

With 25 years in commercial branding and packaging, Radestock recognized the cannabis industry needed a better solution.  After spending six months researching and preparing a business plan, her Fortune 500 company couldn’t support the cash banking system of the cannabis industry and asked Radestock to give up the project.  Instead, she struck out on her own, and Hippo Premium Packaging was born.

Kary and her partner, Chief Operating Officer, Julia Gosnell, set out to not only solve a short-run packaging problem but to make quality brand design and packaging more accessible to the small businesses of the legal marijuana industry. Their goal is to provide an end-to-end solution including everything from pre-design planning and brand formation to packaging and compliance. Radestock explains, 

“The cannabis community is a small business community who is focused on the core business. Often, they need an expert in brand development, packaging or marketing. Hippo provides a single solution, one partner to handle it all so the small business can focus on its core competencies.”

 

Handling the Hurdles

Banking issues have been the biggest hurdle in most cannabis-based businesses. Kary recalled the awkwardness of one meeting with a client where she was paid $16,000 in cash and had to ask for a bag to carry it all. Although 95% of her clients now either have bank accounts or can deposit cash into an account owned by Hippo, some clients may have their accounts frozen or even shut down, so banking can still be a hurdle for canna-business to overcome.

However, the biggest sticking point, at least in the California market right now, are the regulations. New regulations can create major problems for packaging solutions. Short implementation requirements make staying compliant a challenge. Radestock explains hiring an agency can help minimize the confusion. As an authority on compliance, Hippo Premium Packaging and Kary’s team of experts can help clients keep compliance in check.

“Clients are daunted by regulations, so it’s nice to have someone on your side as you’re going through it,” Radestock stated, “All of us are in this together.” 

 

Planning Makes Perfect

With the complexity of compliance and the infancy of the market, Radestock says many times clients are simply not familiar with the process, so education plays a big part in properly executing a successful product launch. Until the industry secures standardized, universal standards for cannabis packaging and labeling, businesses need to put effort into planning, sales projections and forecasting. Too often clients don’t know exactly what they need or how much they’ll need, and short runs are challenging, so Kary stresses the importance of careful planning.

Branding, on the other hand, presents an entirely different challenge, because business owners romanticize about being a large, well-recognized brand, but don’t know where to begin. Radestock stated she often hears clients say, “I want to be like ”, with little understanding of what sets them apart.

“Be solid about who you are as a brand, find what makes you special – your differentiating factor,” Radestock said. 

 

The Future at Hippo

Child-resistant, compliant packaging options walk a fine line between mitigating child tampering and inducing frustration on the intended user. Radestock is excited to tackle this challenge by announcing Hippo’s distributorship with one of the most dominating forces in child-resistant pharmaceutical packaging, Burgopak from the United Kingdom. With their high level of compliance, and experience working with Radestock in mainstream industries, together they soft-launched a new, beautiful pinch design packaging solution at MJBizCon. The design, already approved in the pharmaceutical industry, is being retested in new sizes and is expected to be available by April 1st of this year.

In closing, Kary reminded that different products require different types of packaging, and although businesses may luck out and find the right manufacturer for their product, hiring a professional print production manager, or firm like Hippo, can help reduce the complexities so that business owners can focus on the core of their business. If you’d like to learn more about how Hippo Premium Packaging can help your business develop a professional image and brand, go to HippoPackaging.com.