I write about how marketing strategy can stray from business strategy.  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

(AP Photo/John Locher)

Is it just a matter of time before we see a cannabis-infused reincarnation of the Marlboro man on point-of-sale displays in dispensaries?

“Absolutely not,” says Danny Keith, CEO/Founder of Cannabis Club TV.

“What most in the cannabis space are failing to grasp is that alcohol and tobacco are the controlling agents in respect to success of the cannabis industry. Alcohol controls the distribution parameters while tobacco influences marketing and branding. Exactly the reason you do not see Joe Camel anymore is why you will not see it in cannabis.”

Krista Whitley, CEO of Las Vegas-based Altitude Products, takes a similar stance.

“I’d rather not comment on the comparison between tobacco and cannabis, as one is poison and the other is healing medication.”

Tim Calkins, Clinical Professor of Marketing at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, foresees a highly competitive environment.

“We will see very creative brand-building activities in the years to come. I anticipate that marketing investment will grow exponentially as companies work to carve out a leading position and capture value in an emerging market.”

Education As A Cannabis Brand Attribute

Danny Keith believes cannabis branding will be driven more by education than imagery.

“There are more new customers in the cannabis space than in any other space in recent history around product consumption. Without education of product, customers are ignorant and the lack of budtender education is a white-hot space.”

“It is important for brands to establish their presence for brand recognition while also educating the budtender about the quality of the product. Only then can the two marry and have brand presence at dispensary level while customer appeal on the macro awareness level.”

How Much Education Do Cannabis Consumers Want?

If market growth requires informed consumers, education makes sense. What’s unknown is the recreational marijuana consumer’s thirst for product information.

In 2017, U.S. legal cannabis sales were estimated at $9.2 billion by Arcview Market Research/ BDS Analytics.

The organization forecasts a $47.3 billion market by 2027.

Right now, roughly two-thirds of spending is recreational and one-third medicinal.