Photo credit: © Delima / StockPot Images®

Perrier made its debut in the U.S. in 1976, and before that it was tap water for the majority of the consumers of water in the States. The question was, would Americans pay for bottled water when they got it at a minimal price per month?

By 1977, Perrier debuted with an ad campaign of "More quenching, more refreshing and a mixer par excellence." This tagline put in the minds of the consumers that they would not only relieve their thirst, but with the addition of the fancy "French" words, they were drinking a luxury item – something they wanted to have on the table for their guests, which showed they wanted the best for guests and their buying power in a very subtle nuanced way.

The campaign was directed to a segment that had disposable income, the baby boomers, the ones that sought status symbols, from Gucci inspired cars to ostrich cowboy boots. Perrier targeted those who wanted a healthier lifestyle, so they sponsored sports events and their ads showed sweaty fit people downing bottles of Perrier.

As cultivators know the pain of a recall, Perrier had a four month nationwide recall because benzene was found in testing. Before the recall, they had a 45% share which dropped to 20%. During that time, other companies raced in to take advantage including Evian, Pepsi-Cola's Aquafina, and Coca Cola's Dasani (purified tap water).

In this glut of "water", companies sought new ways to sell their water, so they added "flavors", terpenes anyone? In 2014, U.S. consumers spent $13B on water, which works out to a 1000% increase in cost against the price of tap water.

Cannabis is like water.

How do you market cannabis? Sell it like water.

What benefits are there with cannabis? How would it make your life better? How do you make it a status symbol? What image of the cannabis consumer are you selling? How do you convince consumers to pay premium for something they can get cheaper via "friends"? How do you convince the new cannabis consumer to buy your product?

All these questions can be answered with Bottled Water Taglines; switch out any of the following water brands with any cannabis brand and you have a marketing campaign.

"Can't live without It.” - Dasani

“More quenching, more refreshing, and a mixer par excellence,” - Perrier

"Hungry for life. Thirsty for Naya.” - Naya

"Vittel. There must be something in this water.

It must be the water." - Vittel

"Penta. Taste and feel the difference." - Penta

"Arrowhead. Born better. It's better up here!" - Arrowhead

"Pure water. And nothing but." - Clear Mountain

"Safe. Pure. Fresh from the source. This bottle will change your life." - Cedar Springs

"Taste the pure difference!" - Niagra

"Esker natural spring water, Canada

Esker. Water like no other." - Esker

Marketing cannabis to a mainstream audience is like when Perrier first cracked open their iconic green bottle in the States; market as a product with health benefits, that will improve wellbeing, rather than as the ingrained stereotype of the "couch locked teen" that most of the U.S. has seen. Spring forward from the couch to the treadmill, by making cannabis an essential part of an active lifestyle that benefits all walks of life.

Marketing cannabis along the lines of pharmaceuticals, alcohol or tobacco limits reach because all three hold too much baggage to expand brands or the scope of reach to a wide audience, which is why cannabis should be marketed like water.

Ophelia Chong is the founder of StockPot Images and Partner at the Bevel Group.