Though the legalized cannabis industry may still be considered in an embryonic stage, advertising and retail practices have been around and evolving for decades. By mimicking examples of successful ecommerce and store front platforms, dispensaries are hitting the ground running blending into everyday lifestyle buying to a growing, diverse consumer market.
Marketing professionals in the cannabis industry are finding creative ways to attract customers and further remove the stigma associated with previous weed shops. Finding creative ways to leverage their position in the dispensary space will be key for 2021 as we embark on a new year of the global coronavirus pandemic. As the world’s social and ethical practices are under the microscope, you can be sure retailers are primed to connect and monopolize on these values.
SOME TRENDING FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Ethical & Environmental Responsibility
We’ve seen a growing class of educated consumers. As legalization continues to be accepted by regions, there tends to be a rush to purchase any type of product. When this novelty wears off, people begin to refine their preferences and start to look for a product that tastes good, looks good, and something that’s created with ethical and thoughtful practices by a company they can get behind.
A global trend we see gaining momentum is the migration of buyers diverting from corporations and big box operations, and shifting to local and sustainably sourced products and businesses. It’s Mom & Pop’s time to shine!
The most popular product by far, flower or (bud) is taking a bit of a back seat as the market diversifies. Products such as edibles, concentrates, and beverages are becoming a more popular alternative to the traditional ‘smoke’. By offering a breadth of cannabis products, you open up sales opportunities to a bigger consumer base looking for options to access the many benefits of cannabis.
It’s anticipated that there will be more older customers, and the number of female marijuana customers is likely to increase over time. In addition, there is a probability to become more of a mix of recreational and medicinal users of cannabis as the year goes on. Knowing what your clients are looking for, and being proactive to stay on trend with developing products – your dispensary is sure to grow.
Softening the Image
Many dispensaries are taking an alternative approach to naming conventions and store aesthetics to appeal to a broader audience. Strains like “Green Crack” are not as likely to attract new and inexperienced users to purchase. Open-concept cannabis retail locations that have thoughtful interior design, right down to the ambiance, atmospherics, décor, and fixtures helps make the customer feel more welcome and inclined to have an enjoyable purchasing experience.
People want to be informed, but not have to work for it. Finding balance in providing the right information as quickly and clearly as possible has dispensaries considering a fast food model to expedite purchasing for returning customers who know what they want. Though it’s great to have the ability to rely on the budtenders for product recommendations and information, there are many consumers who would prefer not to purchase in that fashion. We may see in the next few years an evolution to in-store terminals to speed up service offerings – but in the meantime, offering reserving online and in-store pick up could fill the gap before this next level purchasing integration is adopted.
Creating brand preferences and positive brand associations are crucial to the rapid growth of the cannabis industry. By working together dispensaries can provide their brands the opportunity to showcase how their products are different. We’re already seeing some compelling point-of-purchase concepts for brand awareness and education in many markets, and trust this will only improve the buying experience. Visuals give the brand opportunity to connect with customers at the most crucial interaction – when they are in-store and ready to buy.
Being able to identify and target cannabis-responsive audiences will be critical for cannabis advertisers in 2021 to run successful campaigns to drive in-store traffic. Since there are generally few retail locations in Canada, utilizing geo-location data can be more fruitful than for many other industries. However, with the majority of cannabis retailers still working out the best strategies for targeting their audiences, this opportunity has been slow to unfold.
While each local market has its own unique mix of opportunities and challenges, public support for cannabis legalization is at an all-time high. This coming year will be monumental to widespread growth of the legal marijuana industry, and tracking legalization across the globe is increasingly the most important trend to watch for.
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