The Impact of COVID-19 on Cannabis Retailers
A CMA Webinar Brief
During the 2020 pandemic, the cannabis industry has seen immense change and growth. With significant impact being from COVID-19, the industry will continue to see new and innovative developments in the year to come.
Recently, Nick Elam, Head of Marketing at Headset, and Liz Connors, Director of Analytics, came together in a CMA webinar to discuss data on the impact of COVID-19 on the cannabis industry.
The webinar went into an in-depth conversation talking about the impact of COVID-19 on cannabis retailers in an ‘ask me anything’ style. The discussion featured an inside perspective on the data side view of the industry.
How has COVID-19 impacted cannabis eCommerce in which markets now have delivery and curbside pickup services that didn’t previously; how has this specifically impacted sales?
Liz Conners went on to explain that the most significant impact has been on consumer behavior. Regardless if you’re a brand or a retailer, the dynamic has and is continuously shifting. Before, the industry had a salesperson or a ‘middleman’ who was there to help promote products. “They help promote the products we want, and this ‘middleman’ would aid us in doing ups sells and cross-sells for retail companies,” said Conners.
Additionally, Liz gave insight to the idea that the ‘middleman’ also provided a sense of education to our consumers. Especially in states where recreational use is recently approved and newer. Currently, with COVID-19 and everything moving towards delivery and pick-up services, our interaction as both retailers and brands has changed and is now often online.
COVID-19 has changed where and how consumers shop. If you’re a retail company, having a robust online presence with a menu that is easy to access, sort, and understand is critical. Much more urgent now that than it has ever been, explained Connors.
Before, brands could rely on the bud-tender relationship and events, such as vendor day. This dynamic isn’t coming back anytime soon. Brands and retailers must own their brand message to be compelling, persuasive and to deliver their brand message to consumers. This has already been seen in the industry through changes in packaging and labeling. Especially by simplifying the purchasing processes on the consumer end and making it accessible to everyone.
What is the outlook with the new current legislation, and how is eCommerce going to grow as the industry becomes accepted more widely?
Connors explained that many legal states would continue to approve and add a sort of delivery or curbside pickup service because they’re difficult to claw back once they’ve been enacted.
Additionally, these services will start becoming a societal norm. The industry as a whole will take a framework from one state into another, and the industry will see synergy. “Everyone had to figure out the cannabis industry on their own. As we get a greater number of multi-operators across states, we get more sense of what works and what doesn’t. With that knowledge, we try to spread it and implement it in places that do work,” said Connors.
Furthermore, the policy will continue to evolve, and more regulations and eCommerce laws will begin to apply to the cannabis industry. Depending on how the federal legislation is implemented, we will have to deal with and figure out more than ever before.
Ecommerce was always expected for this industry, but COVID-19 propelled the idea forward, and now we have to continue to see how it continues to unfold.
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The webinar continued with a discussion and examples of effective ways curbside and pick-up services have impacted sales. The conversation included topics of popular products and trends that have had an impact on sales. Additionally, the discussion touched on the industry’s creative side and the impact it has had during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, the webinar ended with a question-and-answer session. They also touched on how COVID-19 procedures and laws continue to impact the industry and what to expect moving forward.
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