April 20th is the biggest sales day of the year for most cannabis retailers.
Last year’s holiday marked the busiest sales day in cannabis history. 420 2024 is expected to be even bigger.
While there’s no silver bullet for 420 success, the best thing you can do to maximize revenue returns during this popular time of year is to prepare early.
Every retailer will have discounts, innovative product bundles, and other attractions to bring customers into their store. Your ability to not only match their offers, but outpace them in marketing coverage, in-store experience, and preparation will play a big role in your success on 420.
Get 420 planning inspiration!
The Dispensary 420 Promotion Calendar
This essential guide for cannabis retailers has been updated for 2024 with proven strategies and tactical advice for cashing in before, during, and after 420 this year.
Recap: 420 2023 cannabis sales
According to Flowhub data, 420 2023 was the busiest sales day in history. Dispensaries processed twice as many transactions as a typical Thursday and capitalized on the increased foot traffic with debit payments and discounts.
Watch 420 transactions light up across the US in this heatmap from Headset:
Average revenue per location increased by 8% vs. 420 2022.
Dispensaries increased revenue by 2x on 420 compared to an average Saturday, which is typically the busiest day of the week.
More shoppers, lower spend:
420 2023 transactions were up 5% from 2022 and stores were nearly twice as busy as a typical Thursday. At the same time, average order value on 4/20 was $59, an 11% decrease from 2022.
69% of all 420 transactions included a discount in 2023.
The average discount amount per transaction was $19.
Flower remained king, concentrates grew:
Flower was the most popular product category on 420, making up 54% of total sales.
However, Headset found cannabis concentrates had the largest product category growth in the US at 177% compared to the previous four Thursdays.
Online orders increased:
10% of 420 dispensary orders were placed online, a 7% increase over 2022
Additionally, average order value for 420 2023 ecommerce transactions was $82, a 17% increase in comparison to in store transactions.
Debit payments drove revenue:
Debit transactions were 169% higher on 4/20 than an average Thursday in 2023. Consumers paying with cards also spent 17% more per transaction.
420 2024 Predictions
1. 2024 will be the biggest 420 holiday in cannabis history.
With April 20, 2024 falling on a Saturday, there will be more celebrations and events than ever. Some consumers will choose to stock up early throughout the week, but most will be visiting dispensaries on Friday 4/19 and Saturday 4/20 to enjoy the deals and vibes in person.
2. Cannabis businesses will offer many deals as always, but with a bigger focus on profitable discounting.
To combat price compression in the market, retailers will be smart about not over-discounting or giving away too much free product. Instead, they will create more targeted promotions around high margin items and bundle related products together. It's not just about increasing customers, it's about increasing the value of each customer.
3. In-store events will differentiate dispensaries.
With 420 falling on a Saturday, consumers will celebrate and make their purchases in person. To attract and delight visitors, dispensaries will rely on creative in-person events, including food/drink vendors, celebrity guests, and live performances as key differentiators.
4. Retailers will maximize consumer loyalty.
The rule that 70% of revenue comes from 30% of a store’s loyal customer base will ring true on 420. Dispensaries will lean on loyalty programs, personalized shopping, and VIP experiences for their top customers to cultivate repeat consumers sure to stop by on 420.
5. Cannabis consumers will continue to demand more convenient ways to pay.
Top retailers will embrace alternative forms of payment beyond just cash. With the rise of cannabis-compliant payment options, more cannabis will be paid for via debit cards and ACH this holiday season than ever before, driving higher average revenue per transaction.
6. Adoption of order ahead and delivery (where permitted) will continue to grow.
While ecommerce has become a major trend for dispensaries since the pandemic, traditional brick-and-mortar retail shopping in-store remains by far the preference for consumers on 420. Dispensaries that offer both options will be best poised to satisfy consumer needs and boost sales during this crucial time.
Start 420 planning early
The most successful dispensaries start 420 planning early. The first step is to determine your dispensary goals and how much you want to invest in achieving them. The best way to start is by reviewing your historical data.
What products are most popular? How much did traffic increase last year on and before 420? What were your total sales and transactions? What was the average order value? What discounts did you run and were they successful? How much did you spend on marketing and what was the return on investment (ROI)?
Setting clear, specific goals and a budget will provide direction to your pricing and promotional strategy.
For example, you may set a goal to increase revenue during the month of April with an average order value target while keeping campaign costs to a minimum.
Your 420 strategy may involve:
Creating discounts that require a minimum cart subtotal to qualify
Accepting card payments which is proven to increase transaction amounts by 33% on average
Partnering with a new brand or exclusively stocking a new product drop to attract new customers
Running a budtender contest around upselling. If customers are buying flower, always recommend related accessories like papers and lighters to bump up average transaction amounts
Rearranging your store layout using price anchoring psychology
Targeting a marketing campaign and discount offer towards loyal customers known to have a high average order amount
The sooner you set your goals, budget, and strategy, the sooner you can place inventory orders for what you need and begin syndicating your promotions to your target audience. You can use this template to plan, organize, and manage tasks leading up to 420.
Remember, having a big sales day on April 20th is important, but it’s not everything.
Last year was the first time we actually spread our 420 discount out over three days. We did the sale on 4/18, 4/19, and 4/20, and we saw huge lots of business over those first two days. Then when 420 hit, it was still busy, but it wasn't unreasonable.Sean LaMarche, Retail Marketing Manager at The Fire Station
You'll need to capture those pre-event shoppers and communicate early enough so they know where, when, and how to take advantage of your holiday offerings.
Stock up on inventory
Now is the time to ensure you have enough product on hand for 420—and the weeks preceding it as well. You don’t want to run out of a product that you spent money advertising, and you can’t have customers coming into your store to purchase a specific deal only to learn it isn’t available.
Every dispensary has a unique customer base with their own unique preferences. However, understanding overall market trends and comparing your own sales data can help you understand what inventory to prioritize in your marketing leading up to the 420 holiday.
Here are a few tips to determine which products to stock up on:
- Maximize gross margins by tying your inventory data directly to sales forecasts. Analyze which products sold well last year, which ones didn't, and determine which products you expect to be popular this year. Use sub-categories and SKU velocity to measure how quickly products enter and exit your store. This can help you determine which products to mark down and still maximize profits. For example, if a more expensive edible brand is taking longer to sell than a cheaper one, it may make sense to stock the cheaper option for faster product turnover.
- Ensure your vendors are able to meet your demand. New cannabis brands enter the market every day, but their lifecycles are now shorter than ever. Be sure to carefully vet your suppliers and distributors. Only work with those who can reliably deliver, especially during this high-volume time.
- Most importantly, stay true to your brand values. Offer products that reflect your dispensary's mission and values to show your customers that you stand for something beyond just making a profit. Do you prioritize mission-driven and diversity-owned brands? Sustainability? Locally-sourced products? Budget-friendly options? High-end innovations for the cannabis connoisseur? Curating your product selection can help differentiate your dispensary from competitors and build a loyal customer base that identifies with your values.
420 is also a great time to shop deals from vendors and suppliers—they're getting in on the holiday discounting too!
Suppliers are working to move the needle on their end and take advantage of 420 to boost their sales and give out good deals, which is a great opportunity for me as a buyer.Dean Warner, Manager at Green Point Wellness
Now that you know what inventory you'll be stocking up on, it's time to create your deals.
Create smart, targeted deals
The impact of price compression on cannabis retailers has left many dispensaries rethinking their discounting strategy. While it’s a 420 tradition to heavily discount cannabis products, there’s a more holistic approach to cannabis specials that every dispensary should implement.
We all love a hot deal, but you really don’t have to heavily discount your products to compete or be successful.
Keep these smart discounting tips in mind for 420:
Bundle related products. Bundling increases the perceived value of your products, blurs the customer’s focus on price, and increases product awareness. They’re also a fun option for the 420 holiday.
Be intentional with your promotion strategy. Don’t just hand out free/discounted products because it’s 420. Instead, determine which items offer the highest margins, how much you need to sell, and how long your promotions need to run for most of your customer base to become aware.
Avoid complicated promotions. Our friends at Vetrina Group ran two promotions on comparable products. One had a 50% discount and the other had a BOGO campaign. The BOGO promotion was far more successful because customers understand the value of a BOGO more than discounted pricing. Give your customers promotions that they can understand up front.
Your promotional strategy should also take a targeted approach to reach the right audience with the right 420 specials.
Segmentation is a way to custom-tailor the offers and messages that your customers receive. Your customers are more likely to be interested in your products when the offers you present are personalized based on information you already know and data that you have previously collected. Look into the demographics of your dispensary customers to find out who is actually shopping with you.
Segmentation goes beyond the standard grouping of medical vs. recreational customers. Consider creating targeted 420 specials and pricing specifically for:
Prior, low-frequency customers
Friends & family
VIP (e.g. customers who have reached a spend threshold)
Category of products purchased (e.g. flower, edibles, concentrates, pre-rolls)
Segmentation offers many benefits, and allows you to be more efficient with your time, money, and resources by grouping similar audiences together rather than targeting individuals one by one.
It also gives you the ability to:
Match your offerings to the specific needs of a customer group. If a customer traditionally purchases edibles, informing them about discounts on edibles during the 420 holiday period will make them more likely to buy from you.
Improve the reach of your word-of-mouth marketing. A customer that typically buys concentrates likely hangs out with people that also buy concentrates.
Improve your understanding of your customer base as a whole. Offer products that appeal to your customer segments at your store specifically, not just what products are selling the best in the competitive marketplace.
Identify opportunities for upselling. A customer that traditionally buys flower can be upsold a greater quantity, higher quality strains, or other related offerings that can increase your average order value.
Understand what your customers can afford. By tracking average spend data you can discern how much disposable income certain segments might have available and use that information to offer higher-priced products and improve your average order value during the 420 holiday retail period.
Consider "special" or exclusive offerings for your VIPs or loyal customers. To honor your existing customer base—and keep them loyal—focus on exclusivity, like offering an early access sale, swag, or additional savings.
Offer post-holiday specials to highly-targeted segments, like people who work at dispensaries. Taking an example from restaurants/bars, an "industry" discount can help to increase your market share with your local dispensary employees. You can offer this as a one-time, post-420 discount, or a recurring deal.
It’s not just about getting your products and offers in front of your audience—segmentation allows you to make sure that you are putting the right offer in front of the right audience.
As an example, you could offer a “first-timers pack” or “420 virgin kit” that includes flower, a pipe, and a lighter to give new consumers a straightforward option.
Get creative and have fun with your specials! It's 420, so why not play up the party?
✅ Best practice: When launching new deals, always complete a few successful test transactions.
Once you’ve identified your target audience and compelling offers, be sure to build and test your deals on your point-of-sale software before you begin advertising.
You don’t want to end up in a situation where the customer presents a coupon sent to them via SMS but it doesn’t work when they try to check out!
It is our best practice recommendation to always complete successful test transactions when launching new specials to ensure a seamless customer shopping experience.
Launch your marketing campaign
Today’s retail customers are less channel-specific than customers in years past. They don’t mind, and in many ways expect you to connect with them through multiple channels. They want to learn what 420 specials and events are happening through channels they already use—like social media, text, and email—weeks beforehand.
Fifteen years ago, only 7% of customers used more than four touch-points with a company before buying a product. Today, consumers average nearly six touch-points. Over 50% of customers use more than four.
Retail cannabis stores should explore and test a range of different ways to get in touch with and inform customers in the weeks leading up to 420, including:
It's the most common way for a retail store to reach out to customers before a big sale. Building demand through an email campaign with several touches weeks before, leading up to, the day of, and even after 420 helps to keep you top-of-mind without overstaying your welcome.
SMS message open rates beat email by more than 4x! Additionally, response rates are nearly 7.5x higher than email. That's why text marketing should be a part of your 420 strategy. At the minimum, a text to promote your offers on the first day of new deals would be appropriate. However, remember that text messages are seen as more of an interruption than emails and should be used more sparingly. Find a partner to help with SMS here.
Website and online menus
There is no better tool for informing your customers about the deals that you have to offer than your website and popular online live menus like Dispense. As you approach the holiday, launching a 420 deals page can help your customers separate your typical offerings from the deals that you are offering specifically for the holiday.
Also, make sure your product pages are optimized to rank highly when searched on Google to increase visibility!
Today, seven in ten U.S. adults use social media. Your audience is there, you just need to reach them with the right messaging.
In 2023, Twitter became the first social platform to allow cannabis advertising in the United States. Twitter’s ad campaigns generate an average ROI nearly 40% higher than the average ROI across all other media investments. Be sure to review the Twitter Ads Policy and comply with their requirements before running any cannabis campaigns.
LinkedIn is another valuable resource for cannabis social media marketing. With over 900 million members worldwide, you can reach thousands of potential buyers with a single post. Cannabis ads are also possible on LinkedIn, if you know how to run them. Learn more about dispensary marketing on LinkedIn.
Other social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok are still considered risky endeavors for cannabis businesses. This is because their terms and conditions specifically speak out against cannabis advertising on the platforms. While it may be worth building a following on these channels, it’s not worth trying to advertise on them. Keep in mind that you are constantly at risk of losing your account without notice and consider the amount of effort you’re willing to put into them.
Read the Social Media Guide for Dispensaries for complete details on every popular social channel.
Loyalty programs (if your state allows)
Turn new customers into repeat visitors by signing them up for your loyalty program.
We get a lot of repeat customers. When we look at it in our planning, not just for 420, but our day-to-day leading up to 420, we know we have an audience that travels for our brand. This happens because we’ve built trust.Rochea Monteleone, Retail and Customer Experience Director at The Pass
Your dispensary point of sale system’s loyalty capabilities can either enhance or limit your program’s success. Flowhub has both a built-in loyalty program and 2-way loyalty integrations with our friends at Alpine IQ and springbig.
Dispensaries can create any deal, no matter how complex, and redeem them for loyalty rewards without ever leaving the point of sale. This unlocks unprecedented flexibility and control when it comes to creating hyper-specific marketing promotions and brand experiences.
Signage and TV menus
The biggest deals and discounts should be readily apparent to any visitor that enters your store. Every section should have a headline deal that you push to get customers through the door, along with a range of other offerings that you can use to upsell customers. Leverage strategically-placed printed menus or tablets as well as digital signage to help display 420 specials prominently.
Vendors offering a shiny deal for the holiday? Work together to promote the offering in your store. Set up a table for demos and give out free, non-medicated samples. Collaborating to spread the word about great prices and holiday-specific offerings works to your mutual benefit.
Programmatic ad buying software automates the process of bidding on digital advertising inventory so marketers don't have to. This helps cannabis businesses by offering a compliant way to advertise across 75,000+ publishers. As you approach 420, consider programmatic ads to boost awareness and traffic to your website.
A well-rounded, cross-channel approach can help you make 420 a defining success in your company’s history and set a new standard for future Aprils as well.
Excellent word-of-mouth promotion can make or break your 420 holiday retail outcomes. Train your staff to encourage customers to tell their friends about holiday deals and generate social interest as a cost-free way to promote your store. Friends don’t let friends miss out on dank deals, after all! Use creative tactics to increase word-of-mouth promotion. For example, "The password DankDealz = 20% off when mentioned on 420, tell your friends!"
Here's a real example of a multi-channel marketing campaign from Laiah Walsh, Marketing Director at Life Flower Dispensary:
"We're starting Twitter ads. We have a billboard for this 420 event specifically. We do a full month of in-app digital advertising to ramp up. We've got one creative going from March to April. From those ads, I'm also able to target specific zip codes. We do some of the larger zip codes in our area. Then from there I also text and send out newsletter invites to make sure that all of our loyal customers know about it. I'll do that a couple times before the event just to make sure we've got a list going."
Optimize store workflows
Ensure your store is well-organized, easy to navigate, and visually appealing. Consider making special displays for 420-themed products and adjusting your workflows to accommodate increased traffic.
Here are just a few questions and potential ideas to optimize your store operations:
Are you running any in-store promotions or events? Free food, live music, giveaways, free swag, or community and charity activities give customers more reason to choose your store on the big holiday, but you might need to re-think your store layout to fit these attractions ahead of time
Are you cash only? Cash is dying, even in the cannabis industry. Research from Seed showed that 66% of consumers prefer to pay for cannabis with a debit card. The more convenient you make it for customers to pay, the easier it is to complete transactions and increase revenue. Accepting debit cards or ACH payments could make a significant difference in reaching your sales goals.
Are you prepared to accept online orders? Now is the time to decide on an ecommerce vendor, get it integrated with your POS, and ensure everything works smoothly.
Do you have a clear dispensary org chart created? Building a clear chart that shows who reports to who in your retail organization will keep everyone's tasks in line as 420 approaches.
Do you need additional terminals in your store to accommodate more shoppers? If you're doing order ahead and/or delivery, you may want to set aside terminals to exclusively fulfill those orders.
Do you need to extend your store hours? Flowhub data shows 2pm - 6pm as the busiest time of day on April 20 based on the number of transactions. But if you are open earlier and later than the dispensary across the street, consumers in a pinch will obviously default to you.
How can you make the checkout process even faster? You might consider creating an express lane or setting up an order fulfillment model to increase efficiency during high volume periods
Staffing and training
Your 420 strategy isn’t complete without taking a hard look at both the amount of staff you have on hand and how well they are trained to perform during a rush.
Consider your staffing requirements and ensure you have an adequate number of employees to ensure a safe and positive experience for every customer. This may mean that you need to hire additional staff. Bringing on temporary workers with a specialized skill set is not only a good way to support your current staff, it can also provide a competitive advantage.
420 tips from cannabis retailers
When it comes to dispensary staff training, make sure your staff is aware of any workflow changes that are different from their normal day-to-day duties. Carve out some time to practice upselling/cross-selling techniques, educating on 420 product offerings, and handling different types of customers.
420 brings a lot of occasional and first-time users into stores. Many just want to dabble and that often leads to smaller basket sizes and lower-priced purchases.
The holiday also brings many active users in, often looking to branch out into new product categories. Your ability to train budtenders to upsell all customers will be critical to the overall revenue that you can produce.
Occasional users may be willing to spend a few extra bucks for a better experience—but you need your staff to give them a nudge in that direction, otherwise most will stick with the original deal that caught their attention.
Encourage sales associates to interact with every customer, especially those who are visiting with friends or spectators with no intention of making a purchase. There’s a good chance these folks will be in good spirits for the holiday and are prime conversion opportunities—particularly if you are running relevant deals for first-time customers!
Remember to show staff appreciation for all their hard work. Programs to hype up your staff and bring the 420 energy can go a long way. Gestures like free lunch and snacks or incentives like spirit week, staff bingo with prizes, contests and performance bonuses can help get them excited to hit your goals. (However, be aware of which incentives for budtenders are legal in your state.)
Give your staff the opportunity to share feedback and feel like they're part of something. Ignoring their contribution and the potential influence they have on the business is where a lot of retailers go wrong. You have to have humility and incorporate them in the process.Rochea Monteleone, Retail & Customer Experience Director at The Pass
Build redundancy into your operations
Anyone who has worked in the cannabis industry knows that operating in the space comes with a certain level of risk, meaning it's that much more important to have redundant processes in place.
The 420 holiday means retailers must be prepared to see long lines, handle customer wait times, and provide more assistance to less experienced consumers who need help selecting the right products—while remaining compliant at all times.
Preparing for these hurdles now will help to ensure that you are ready for any scenario.
Do you have a backup plan? Ideally, your systems will never go down, but it can happen and you can greatly lessen the impact by having a plan in advance. Here is our SOP template for possible outage situations.
How do you ensure you don’t oversell cannabis? Or that you verify the age of every person who shops at your store? What other compliance and marijuana laws should you be wary of? Go through our cannabis compliance checklist to find out.
Is all your technology up-to-date and operational? Check all your machines for any pending software updates, restart hardware devices, and make sure all staff members can successfully login to all your systems. Bookmark the status page for your POS and other critical technology providers.
What will you do if the line gets long or the store gets too crowded? Run fire drills and train your staff on how to escalate any potentially dangerous situation. Use the Safety/Security SOP for help.
If something goes wrong, you’ll be ready to handle it like a pro.
Use data to improve your business
The data that you collect on 420 has the potential to be more valuable than the actual revenue you generate.
On 420 (and in the weeks leading up to it), you’ll have many customers enter your store for the first time. You’ll have the opportunity to expand your customer databases, collect new data on returning customers, and use this data to bolster future campaigns.
Make sure you have data collection architecture in place for key metrics like:
- Total sales and transactions
- Average order value
- Customer sources
- Discount usage
- Percentage of new vs existing customers, online vs in-store orders, cash vs debit transactions
Ensure your POS allows you to track customer sources to analyze this data. This is a great opportunity to start measuring how specific marketing channels impact sales.
After the 420 holiday, most stores will inevitably have sold more of some products and less of other products than estimated. This means overages and shortages—you’ll need to quickly move certain products to make room for others, which means more discounts and opportunities to increase revenue even after the big day.
Leveraging data that you collected on 420 can help you to quickly move excess inventory and grow relationships with first-time customers through post-holiday discounts, giving you a great reason to make a quick second connection and attract repeat business.
420 blaze it 🔥
As the biggest holiday in the cannabis industry, April 20th and the weeks surrounding it present a huge opportunity for dispensaries, but also some risks.
You must have a solid marketing strategy in place—deploying weeks in advance of the holiday—or else you'll get lost in the noise and lose business to competitors.
Retailers must also have the right systems in place to provide peace of mind and reliability during the most important business day of the year.