The Strain Name Game
By Zelda Flowers
If you need further proof that the cannabis industry has been dominated by men stunted in adolescence, just take a look at the roster of cannabis strain names: Violator Kush, Alien Dawg, Death Star, Cat Piss, Alaskan Thunder Fuck and my current favorite, XJ-13.
Actually, XJ-13 is a sensible name if you happen to know that it’s a hybrid of Jack Herer and G-13. Except when I ordered it from the placard at my local dispensary, I didn’t. The name instantly annoyed me. My brain is crammed with codes and passwords. I’ve got bank account numbers, social security, pin codes, phone numbers, passwords for 50 websites and now you want me to remember some ridiculous, meaningless (to me) alphanumeric name for your strain? Um, no. Even with this article, I’ll have forgotten about this strain within the month and probably never think of it again.
This is in direct contrast to a strain I tried once last year – Purple Amethyst. In fact, I can tell you almost everything about this strain that appeared once in the Natural Cannabis Company 2016 Best of Harvest box. One of the main reasons is the name. It stands out among Cat Piss and Violator Kush as a strain I’d like to try because it sounds beautiful and delicious.
You see, the majority of cannabis users aren’t teenage metal heads. Seniors make up a growing market segment in the cannabis industry. Women, too, buy a remarkable amount of cannabis. It’s hard to imagine a 70 year old woman seeking relief from Parkinson’s asking for Alaskan Thunder Fuck.
I’m a consumer first and a business professional second. As a consumer, I want strain names to be descriptive and tell me something about what I’m purchasing. Excellent examples of descriptive strain names helpful to the average consumer, i.e. not weed nerds: Super Sour Skunk, Pineapple Kush, Sonoma Valley Grape, Strawberry Cough. Headband references the common feeling of pressure around the head, as if you’re wearing a headband. White Widow and Ghost OG are pale strains, both befitting of the name. While it’s true Cat Piss may smell like cat piss, from a marketing perspective, that’s a hard sell. As a consumer and a cat owner, cat piss is actually a smell I try to avoid.
If cultivators want to be successful in the mainstreaming of cannabis and marketing to the masses, it’s time to leave the adolescent naming behind. Is the smell of cat urine the main benefit of your strain that you want people to remember? Instead, drop the stupid, vulgar, meaningless names and focus on memorable, descriptive names that invoke the pleasant aspects of the strain, such as the flavor or effects. Remember that cannabis use crosses cultures, age, gender, socio-economic levels and religion. Why risk alienating potential customers, some who may end up being your biggest (and most vocal) fans?