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Shifting the Market: Emoji menu keeps cannabis fans, companies in the conversation.

Jan 29, 2018 11:54AM

Every company wants fans to talk up their products to friends, but sparking their interest is a huge challenge for businesses in the highly regulated world of legal cannabis. “A lot of the traditional advertising on TV, social media, and radio isn’t allowed,” says Ben Tyson, co-founder with Olivia Mannix of Denver’s Moji Lab.

Tyson also doesn’t think most cannabis marketing works. “You cross your fingers and hope it initiates conversations. What if we shifted that around? Instead of hoping, what if we provided an app that’s a platform for conversations that were already happening?” he explains.

Cannabis conversation by text on devices is legal within limits, and that was the genesis of Kushmoji, a free iPhone app (coming soon to Android) introduced in 2017 by Moji Labs. “Emoticons are the fastest growing form of communication in the world.

Texting is the part of the phone people use the most. We know that cannabis enthusiasts already are texting with each other about their favorite dispensaries, vape pen and strains. We’re saying, ‘Let’s create an ecosystem of cannabis enthusiasts to which you can add your product,’” Tyson says.

Besides being a space where the cannabis culture can convene, Kushmoji features a keyboard of cannabis-themed emojis, including variations on looking stoned, the munchies and buds of various strains. One popular emoji of a buzzed-looking slice of toast is worth a dozen keystrokes.

“We also take commercially available cannabis products and re-illustrate them into emojis so fans can talk about them easily,” he explains. On Kushmoji users don’t have to Google anything. Click an emoji and product information pops up, including reviews and where it can be purchased. The app al- lows brands to alert users of special deals as well.

Kushmoji has signed up dozens of cannabis businesses and created emojis for them, including Native Roots Apothecary, Dixie Elixirs, Mary Jane’s Medicinals, The Farm, Sweet Leaf, Wana, Dank Essence and Sensi Magazine.

The app has been downloaded thousands of times, with a majority of users in Colorado and California but expanding to other states. The general cannabis emojis can be used anywhere, not just in states that have legalized cannabis. However, the app that includes the cannabis product information is only available for those over 21. “The app is geo-located so it only works in states where it is legal and it can’t go across state lines,” Tyson states.