How to Successfully Market and Sell a Controversial Product

Cocal Cola

Although the mainstream media thrives on controversial headings and subjects, things take a different turn when you start marketing controversial products. Aside from the fierce debate from enthusiasts and critics, some various barriers and requirements make it cumbersome to market contested products adequately. On one end, you need to avoid issues with regulatory authorities for long-term success and a solid brand reputation. You also need to find effective ways to make your proposal to prospects. However, there are various things you can do to controversial market products like cannabis, e-cigs, and steroids legally. Here is a brief look at five:

  1. Follow all regulations

Regulation is the biggest impediment in controversial marketing products. You must follow all the compliance requirements around your product from language and choice of words to media and packaging. For instance, while medical cannabis is legal in various places, you cannot open dispensaries or set up marketing billboards within 500 feet of schools and rehab centers. In some areas, such outlets should remain at least 1000 feet away from select institutions. Cannabis regulations also dictate the language and choice of words you can use to market a product. As such, you must go through all the rules and regulations in your city. Once you know the requirements, embrace them to the latter in all your marketing mix, including social media, TV ads, online platforms, billboards, and magazines.

  1. Seek out your target market

Since your product is already controversial, your efforts should focus on making a value proposition to real consumers who want your product. Traditional market research is essential if you’re going to understand your niche. You can also find blogs and influencers who already talk about your product in a good light. If you can, find the biggest criticizers of your product and organize a healthy discussion. If this is not an option, stick to your supporters. You can reach out to bloggers and run sponsored ads on their sites. Find out where your target customers hand out most online and use those forums to shed more light on the benefits of your products. Information platforms are also great for gathering insight into consumer reviews, regulations, and advice. For instance, if you plan to market Canadian anabolics in Canada, then make sure you do a in-depth demographic analysis of the target audience.

  1. Focus on quality and education

Controversial products are harder to market when you don’t have quality points to defend it. Your critics will come up with studies and valid claims to discredit the products, so it is only logical that you prepare your argument points. If you are marketing cannabis products, you can use credible research about the medicinal benefits of CBD. For instance, there is enough information about cannabis for seizures, post-chemotherapy nausea, and chronic arthritis pain. Use these studies to support your points and counter any cynical critic. This approach will educate your customers and also nullifies most of the concerns.

  1. Learn from the competition and other industry stakeholders

Unless you are the pioneer, there is no harm in studying the strategies of your competitors. If there is already a successful brand in the market, you can look into their marketing mix, branding, promotion and reputation building approaches. You can also learn from the mistakes of your fallen competitors. Regardless of the product, any marketing research requires in-depth competitor analysis. Partnering with manufacturers, suppliers, trade associations and regulatory bodies is another excellent way to spread your brand message and market controversial products. These partners already know the rules and have a broad reach in the market. You can also pick up their marketing strategies or even use them to share the weight of marketing.

  1. Explore multiple advertising platforms

There are several media openings you can use to market your product. Controversial products can still take full advantage of TV, radio and newspaper ads. Both digital and print media connect you with prospects that seek your products. All you need to do is follow the regulations in place for each platform. It is recommendable to exploit as many options as you can, but you do not have to use them all at the same time. You should also use your packaging for branding. For instance, if you sell cannabis products like dry herb, flowers, and shatters, package them in sturdy glass jars re-usable for other storage needs. You can refer to a well-known brand like weedsmart to know how you can sell a controversial product like CBD successfully.


There are various other aspects to examine when dealing with controversial products. Marketing requires deep insight into the target market, compliance requirements, and the product. You must become the expert advocate for your product and clear any misconceptions thrown by opposers. More importantly, make sure you plan and set your marketing goals and early enough and work towards these objectives. There should be a way to track the performance of every marketing technique you use. If you find the adventure tedious, it is recommendable to ask for help. Experienced branding and marketing firms can help you create a positive buzz around your controversial product as long as you meet compliance requirements.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende