Cannabis is more popular in the United States than ever, and the expanding number of adult-use states bears this out. Not only are there almost 20 such states in the nation, but poll after poll shows a majority of Americans today favoring the use of cannabis, as well as its decriminalization and legalization. Meanwhile, the industry continues to grow into a $60 billion behemoth that is seemingly immune to any economic devastation brought by the pandemic.
For those of us living and working in this space, none of this is new. And that makes it easy to forget that cannabis – thanks to decades of stigmatization and criminalization from the War on Drugs – is still an object of mystery for many Americans. And just because it’s legal doesn’t mean these folks are going to be quick to become new cannabis consumers, even if this legality eventually applies nationwide and in every state.
That’s why consumer education remains just as important today as it has been since California opened its legal market in ’96. And there are some easy ways to accomplish this and turn today’s canna-skeptics into better-informed cannabis consumers.
Provide a little Cannabis 101
Not everyone walking through the front doors of the dispensary will want to smoke cannabis flower. Nor will they necessarily understand the alternative forms of consumption, from vapes to edibles and beyond. And there’s absolutely no way these new would-be consumers understand the whole indica-vs.-sativa controversy and whether it’s even a reliable standard by which to measure a cannabis experience or medical treatment. But all this consumer uncertainty is a perfect opportunity for retailers and cannabis brands to step up and communicate clearly about commonly experienced cannabis topics. Consumers will go where they feel confident about making the right purchases, and the industry can provide this level of confidence by educating the basics about cannabis use clearly and continuously.
Talk about consumption methods
And if you’re educating consumers about the basics of cannabis, you’ll need to cover the essentials about the different forms of consumption, too. And this is one area in which new consumers often are the most confused, given how there are a handful of different ways in which cannabis can be used for medical and adult-use reasons. But helping new – and even established – consumers understand this topic better can be big, because when consumers learn more about the consumption methods of inhalation, oral, sublingual and topical, they’ll acquire a sense of empowerment that invariably leads to them being more-informed – and recurring – cannabis consumers.
Introduce loyalty programs to the consumers
If you run a store that sells cannabis, you can create a loyalty program in which patrons get discounts for coming back regularly or sharing their experiences with their friends. This can help build loyalty for your dispensary or for specific products and encourage return customers. Today’s tech-savvy customers expect this from most other retailers, and today’s cannabis retailers really have to deliver the same.
Help out with deals
Cannabis retailers may be enjoying the newest form of commerce with the trendiest of popular products, but the old ways of selling still work exceedingly well, and that means promotional efforts can go a long way to both move products and educate customers. If your store sells cannabis, there are likely deals you can use to entice new customers. These deals include discounts, coupons, and specials to encourage people to buy. This kind of promotional material will help increase the number of people loyal to the retail brand, and thanks to social media, word will spread quickly about the deals you offer.
There’s little doubt that full legalization is coming to the United States cannabis market. It’s just a question of when, not if. And as great as that day will be when it comes, it still will bring unique challenges for cannabis retailers who will be faced with educating even more of the public about the benefits and uses of cannabis. It will continue to be challenging, of course, given how many new markets will be filled with potential customers with preconceived (and typically flawed) ideas about what cannabis is and how it is used. As the cannabis industry expands to embrace full legality, there is a growing importance in helping these consumers feel more comfortable about using cannabis for the first time. And as those of us in this space today know, that consumer confidence will only grow the more consumers experience for themselves the health and wellness aspects of cannabis.