As legalization continues to trickle throughout the United States, new businesses are looking to industry leaders for effective marketing tactics. The cannabis industry is still in its infancy, which provides both a hurdle and opportunity for brands to pave the way. Marketing is an ever-evolving, critical part of any business, yet many companies still rely on trial and error approaches due to the lack of relevant information available online. Our Marketing in the Cannabis Industry series aims to provide proven, effective marketing solutions for brands looking to disrupt the industry. To stay in-the-know with marketing industry insights and additional guides in this series, subscribe to our email newsletter below. 

Although retail as a whole is shifting from the traditional brick and mortar model to the convenience of online shopping, dispensaries are continuing to thrive within the retail space. Visiting a dispensary is an experience — some consumers prefer the help of a knowledgeable budtender, while others require the sights and smells of the product to make a purchasing decision. Some state compliance laws ban the direct online sale or delivery of cannabis, so for now, brick and mortar locations remain king for the exchange of cannabis products. 

The dispensary dynamic provides a unique challenge for marketers. Retail cannabis locations are a hub for target consumers; however, there are equally as many brands fighting for their attention. An incredible product is simply not enough. A product has to stand apart from the rest of the heavily-saturated space. Here are four proven tactics for effective marketing within the retail cannabis space. 

1. Your Best Buds – Budtenders

Budtenders are the main point of contact for consumers in dispensaries. Experienced budtenders provide information about the various products the store stocks to ensure a positive shopping experience. Proper budtender education about your product is essential. The product education approach varies from state to state and location to location. Make an introduction to the store or purchasing manager to find out how you can educate the team on your product. If the local law and dispensary allow, provide free products to the budtenders and staff. If you can meet with the team in person, plan to pitch your merchandise to some of the most well-informed cannabis connoisseurs in the business. Focus on your unique selling points and steer clear of vague buzzwords like “the best” or “top of the line.” Use specific examples as to why your product is superior to the rest. 

Many dispensary customers rely solely on the recommendation of the budtender. Dispensary staff members are an invaluable resource for promoting your brand — leverage the relationship wisely. 

2. The Waiting Room

dispensary waiting room marketing

To control the flow of traffic, many dispensaries utilize a waiting room for patrons. Some dispensaries allow for the display of marketing materials from vendors in this space. With waiting times ranging from a couple of minutes to over half an hour during peak traffic, the waiting room is prime marketing real estate. With permission from the store manager, stock your vendor locations with informative, beautifully designed marketing materials. Common items range from stickers to small flyers, with some dispensaries allowing for P.O.P. (point of purchase) displays and larger items such as posters. Always check with the store manager before implementing any marketing materials at the store. Use the space to inform customers about your products so your brand remains top of mind when the customer enters the purchasing room.  

3. When Looks Are Everything

Photo of Kiva Confections Products

As much as we like to think quality reigns supreme — flashy, sexy packaging will always attract new consumers. With compliant, child-proof packaging always in mind — plan to invest in your in-store branding and packaging. If you sell edibles, develop realistic and non-perishable (plastic or similar material) replicas to show the consumer what your edible size, shape, and color looks like. If you sell high-quality cannabis, concentrates or other cannabis-related products, make sure your packaging and point of sale displays reflect the quality and vibe of your brand. While adhering to local state packaging laws and child-proof requirements, spend extra time and attention to detail to ensure your packaging effectively reaches your target consumer.

Denver-based creative agency GRIT provides curated marketing solutions for companies looking to take their brand image to the next level. Contact GRIT to discuss your marketing needs here

4. Ambassadors

cannabis ambassadors

Many dispensary locations host events to drive traffic. 4/20 parties, monthly flash sales and vendor meet & greets are common for places that allow events. Utilize these opportunities to reach your target market directly. For larger events open to vendors such as 4/20, hire brand ambassadors to reach multiple markets at once. Face-to-face communication is vital for promoting your brand. Events that attract a broad audience of your target consumers are one of the most efficient ways to educate consumers about your product.  

If you’d like to connect with a network of on-demand budtenders, packagers, cultivators and brand ambassadors, sign up for our GIGS platform through the button below. Vangst GIGS connects businesses with prescreened, on-demand temporary work for hire in the cannabis industry. 

Connect with on-demand cannabis talent >

As always, make sure you’re compliant with local laws and check with the store manager on location-specific regulations before implementing any marketing tactics. By fostering a positive relationship with budtenders, investing in your brand marketing materials and developing a strong brand ambassador team, you’re setting up your brand for success in the retail cannabis space!   

Interested in learning more? Contact us now!