by Mike Ndugo — Kenya
It’s no secret that most dispensaries are experiencing rising profits due to unexpected circumstances. However, the current pandemic lockdowns have affected stakeholders in several ways. Let’s look at how COVID-19 has shaped emerging cannabis marketing trends in 2020.
1. Focus on CBD Products
Cannabidiol is known for being effective in reducing inflammation. That’s why most athletes use CBD creams after rigorous gym sessions. Some doctors also believe that CBD medication can heal inflammation caused by COVID-19.
Also, most people are working out from home now that gyms are closed indefinitely. This shift in health and fitness has boosted demand for CBD products targeting muscle inflammation. CBD recipes are also gaining popularity because they offer exciting ways to get medicated.
2. The Shift in Vape Advertising
Vape oils enable consumers to enjoy terpenes and THC concentrations at different levels. When you purchase THC carts at a legal dispensary, you can talk to the budtender about the product and how it’s made. In late 2019, at least 530 people had unpleasant experiences from smoking counterfeit THC oil.
How are cannabis retailers addressing this problem now that consumers are purchasing carts in bulk? Legal dispensaries have made it a priority to educate consumers on how to spot fake carts consistently. California retailers advise consumers to verify dispensaries with the Bureau of Cannabis Control before making any purchases.
3. Rise of TikTok as a Marketing Platform
TikTok has garnered approximately 87 million downloads between January and June. It’s arguably replacing Instagram as the most preferred video sharing platform. TikTok users such as @mrbocaj and @lakin.sky have made weed videos that have attracted views ranging in the hundreds of thousands.
TikTok’s advertising rules are less strict compared to Facebook and Twitter. You can include cannabis-related hashtags in your videos without fear of account suspension. This offers dispensaries a new platform for marketing content and increased sales.
4. The High Growth Rate of Dispensary Drive-Thrus
The social distance rule has forced most dispensaries to shut down or adjust their operations indefinitely. Some have resorted to curbside pickups as a solution. However, this method is time-consuming due to the time it takes for the store to verify your order.
Drive-thru cannabis dispensaries are becoming popular because consumers get a better experience compared to a curbside pickup. Drive-thrus enable budtenders and consumers to interact more effectively while still maintaining social distance regulations.
5. Dispensaries Offering Deliveries are Beating the Competition
It’s a huge relief that most states still allow cannabis dispensaries to operate as essential service providers. However, some dispensaries are struggling to get by while their competitors down the block are experiencing record sales. Why is this happening?
Weed retailers that also have delivery licenses have a wider reach compared to competitors limited with a single license. In situations where governors extend state lockdowns, dispensaries that cannot deliver cannabis to customers may eventually have to compete. Delivery laws differ on a state by state basis.
6. Spike in Demand for Cannabis Edibles
New information frequently pops up regarding factors that can increase vulnerability towards Coronavirus. News reports, some of which have shaky credibility, seem to suggest that smoking puts consumers at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
These rumors have fueled a rising demand for cannabis edibles, especially among senior citizens with respiratory illnesses. For instance, edible sales in San Francisco rose from 15% to 30%. This is an indicator that dispensaries might consider focusing more resources on marketing cannabis edibles to match current consumer needs.
7. The Emergence of Interactive Online Cannabis Events
2020 will be known as the first time annual high-profile cannabis events took place online. The High Times Cannabis Cup got streamed through Facebook Live while others happened on Instagram. Event organizers considered this as the best outcome compared to postponing to 2021.
Dispensaries can analyze these online events to find out ways of engaging customers and launching products. Especially for startups because such insights will help them reach broader target markets while minimizing marketing expenses.
8. More Collaboration with Cannabis Influencers
YouTube hosts several cannabis influencers with staunch followers. These personalities make money from product endorsements. One benefit of hiring a YouTube influencer is that you spend less money compared to purchasing advertising space on websites.
As online cannabis sales continue rising, dispensaries will need better digital marketing strategies. Producers in the cannabis industry will collaborate more frequently with online influencers to reach wider audiences. The consumer also benefits from having a wider variety of products or enjoying limited discounts.
Final Thoughts on Dispensary Marketing
2020 seems to be the year that marks a significant shift to online marketing. Dispensaries now have to produce more video content to reach new target markets on platforms like TikTok. Also, the increasing collaboration between cannabis influencers and producers will help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.
Dispensaries aiming to maximize profit should stock up on THC and CBD edibles because some lockdowns might extend into the fall. This ensures that you can cater to bulk purchases from customers preparing to stay indoors.
For more insight on cannabis marketing, become a CMA member today!
This blog was written by, Mike Ndugo.