It is clear that legalization is on an upward trend. More and more markets are legalizing either medicinal cannabis or recreational cannabis, or both, as public acceptance grows. As the United States approaches statewide legalization, cannabis operators have the opportunity to sell their products to thousands more consumers. Acquiring new customers is not without its challenges, however, and requires ingenuity on the part of operators to combat existing stigmas and differentiate their brands from the many others.
An important way to attract new customers is to focus on retail-level education to ensure that both existing customers and curious newcomers are well informed about buying cannabis in stores or online. Stores like Cannabist, Columbia Care’s new retail brand, are reinventing the pharmacy experience around this concept: attracting new customers by creating a unified and educational retail experience.
Add context to retail education
Before new or existing Cannabis users To start making an informed cannabis purchase, it is important that they understand the context of their market. What many consumers are unaware of is that since cannabis is not illegal under federal law, factors such as local regulations and supply chains affect what types of products may be available.
Different marketplace regulations
The regulations cannabis retailers and brands must adhere to vary by state and even city, so educating them about local laws is critical to creating well-informed consumers. Washington, for example, does not require a separate distributor between manufacturer and retailer, while California does require companies to be vertically integrated. Also, some states make it easier to get a cannabis license than others. Such differences can change the market and the types of products offered because barriers to entry are unequal, creating an environment in which a much larger number of brands are available in some government markets than others.
Product ingredients and prices
Consumers should be aware of the realities of branding in this current environment and how the growing cannabis industry is affecting product development and pricing. With many states experiencing product oversaturation versus retail stores, there is a shift in some markets to what industry experts refer to as “race to the bottom pricing,” where companies seek to undercut competitors in order to get on the shelves come. This is more common in categories like vape and concentrates, which differentiate more between product types and ingredients. For some manufacturers, it may be necessary to use cheaper ingredients or methods to ensure margins are met. Therefore, it is important to understand the nuances of the market, companies, brands, and how products are made. As a consumer, you want to learn to read labels.
Tribes: a key component in education
Guiding customers through their purchase has always been an integral part of retailing, but advising consumers in retail cannabis is an entirely different experience. Not only are there a variety of product formats from pre-rolls to tinctures to edibles, but also hundreds of varieties, each with their own unique effects.
Stretching education for all levels of experience
Most cannabis products are sold by type, with some labeled according to the intended effect, such as: B. “energized” or “relaxed”. However, the same strain can have very different effects from person to person, which is a challenge for consumers who want to know exactly what type of experience they are going to have. Because experiences can be so different Education about cannabis users about each strain and its potential effects is even more important in attracting new consumers and cultivating new experiences for connoisseurs. Such training can be provided through both online resources and in-store budget tender consultations.
Tribes as distinguishing features
In many cases, when the manufacturers have created exclusive and unique genetics, varieties represent the brands themselves. When examining the headset data, it becomes clear that customer loyalty lies more in the brand itself than in the brand. Consumers will buy their favorite strains from a variety of brands instead of sticking to just one.
As more competitors enter the market every day, brands can stand out with proprietary genetics that cement their reputation. One such success story is Cookies who adopted this method with Gary Payton. Working with an NBA All-Star, Cookies created one of their best-selling strains thanks to her distinct personality. Other operators produce and distribute already well-known and widely used brands such as Gelato to attract consumers who are fans of these genetics.
With so many factors to consider when purchasing cannabis, it is vital for operators to create a retail structure that will help customers navigate the cannabis category with ease. Just as Apple praises its “Genius” counter for in-store support, cannabis operators need to help consumers better understand the product, including beyond strain education.
Pharmacy models vary by store and even in different states. Medical pharmacies let patients check in and wait for their appointment in the lobby just like in a normal doctor’s office. Recreational pharmacies often follow a similar layout without the lobby, but focus more on advice or throughput with more flexibility in the shopping experience. In any case, pharmacies have consumer satisfaction in mind and try to guide their customers through the best possible experience to meet their personal needs.
The role of technology
Technology can vastly improve the shopping experience both online and in stores. It can also encourage higher throughput by allowing them to do their own preliminary research on products and varieties before consulting a budget tender. The changes in consumer behavior since the pandemic, with a greater reliance on online shopping, show the importance of having a strong online presence with delivery, pre-order and pick-up options. Technology is helping the retail world move forward and pharmacies will be no exception.
Trend towards a better shopping experience
Easing consumer education will always be an important facet of retailing; Consumers will never stop asking questions about new or even long-standing products. Public acceptance of cannabis use is increasing day by day, changing the cannabis landscape and consumer expectations of brands and retailers. Trends like Columbia Care’s new cannabis dispensaries are educational and can create new expectations for cannabis retailers.
This ever-evolving industry is growing and evolving with its consumers right next to it. Trends are changing and more and more people are drawn to the power of the cannabis plant, proving every day the importance of education in making the space the best possible welcome.
Cy Scott is co-founder and chief executive officer at Headset Inc.to turn retail data into real-time insights into the cannabis market. In his weekly blog he offers industry analysis and insights into innovative brands. Goods packed with cannabis Good. Prior to founding Headset, he co-founded Leafly and helped make the website the world’s leading cannabis information resource. In addition to his work at Headset, Scott started a monthly cannabis tech meetup with cannabis entrepreneurs and technology developers that has expanded to several regions in the United States. Scott’s favorite strain is Tangie.