Originally published to BNN.ca on Nov. 15, 2017

Most Canadians favour an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach when it comes to marketing legalized cannabis.

According to a new poll conducted by GfK, 51 per cent of Canadians favour ‘dark’ marketing for cannabis once it is legalized, meaning products will not feature prominent brands or highly-visible advertising campaigns. This approach would be similar to the current restrictions on cigarette marketing.

Only 13 per cent of those polled believed brands should be free to promote products with only minor restrictions.

GfK (Growth from Knowledge) said that the nascent marketplace for cannabis products will force companies to tread carefully once legalization occurs.

“Brands and outlets will need to move cautiously, keeping close watch on consumer sentiment and respecting the concerns of wary Canadians,” GfK Canada vice-president Chris Thorne said in a statement. “PR and marketing blunders will be amplified by the charged environment – so the marketplace needs to consider its moves carefully while still nurturing this fledgling industry.”

The study – conducted Sept. 20-28 – found Canadians split on how best to distribute legalized cannabis. Licensed grocers and pharmacies received about 45 per cent, while 30 per cent favoured government-run outlets similar to liquor stores. An additional 28 per cent thought the products should not be distributed at all.