At Flowhub, we’re dedicated to making cannabis accessible to everyone, one legal transaction at a time.
As the cannabis industry grows, markets open, and demand increases, it’s important to position your dispensary to meet the opportunity.
Having a plan for how to attract new cannabis consumers is vital if you want your brand and business to succeed. No business retains 100% of current customers, so you need to be able to continually build new relationships and bring new people into your store. Now more than ever, you must understand your customers, how to get them to shop with you (whether that's through ecommerce or by coming in), and how to make sure they know you exist.
In this post, we’ll start by describing the seven types of customers you’re likely to have and then outline five tips for attracting these customers to your dispensary.
7 types of dispensary customers
There are multiple types of new customer personas, and each of them are attracted to different things, and reached in different ways.
Here are a few customer types you may encounter and ways to appeal to each:
- Deal seekers - Attracted to specials, these potential customers need an incentive to visit your dispensary over others. The incentive likely to be most effective is monetary and tangible. Offering a first-time customer special that discounts an accessory or other product with purchase; or one that steeply discounts a popular product/category with a minimum purchase is effective. Don’t forget to pair this incentive with an additional purchase or minimum cart subtotal.
- Experience seekers - Looking for a great atmosphere and expertise, they may even be looking for advice to buy something new. This isn’t as simple as offering a tasty deal, it’s more about the experience your dispensary provides in its entirety. Curate your cannabis product mix and provide insightful product descriptions on all your outbound marketing. Include thoughtful descriptions of your dispensary, your team, and the mission of your company.
- New shoppers - Looking for a good experience, advice, and expertise, this may be their first experience in a dispensary. What’s most important is to have an inviting atmosphere where they feel comfortable asking questions. Provide education and descriptions of your products without industry lingo so they’re intrigued, not intimidated. If you’re in a market with recent legalization, note that this may be a large portion of your customer base.
- Locals - They live, work, or commute near you. Though they may be in close geographic proximity already, it’s important that you take the care to appeal to this customer as well. Structuring specials around convenience is an effective tactic. Neighborhood discounts, early-bird specials, and happy hours designed to get these cannabis users in the store while they’re in transit or off-peak hours is wise. Also consider order-ahead so their purchase is ready when they want.
- Tourists - Seeking ease of purchase, a knowledgeable staff, and a welcoming air, they may be cannabis newbies. Many tourists come from an area where cannabis is still illegal to purchase and consume, so the ability to walk into an adult-use dispensary and purchase THC or CBD products may be intimidating, overwhelming, or overly exciting. Help them out and be patient with them. Clearly advertising to tourists with discounts for presenting proof of travel could lead to nice attendance from out-of-towners.
- Pedestrians - Looking to window shop, these customers probably weren’t intending to stop by. Their first impressions will be of your physical storefront. Keep it clean, professional, and clearly marked so you have the best chance to bring them into your business from the sidewalk. Once they are inside, provide a great, welcoming customer experience and take the time to ask what brought them in today to then cater products and education accordingly.
- Groups - Veterans, senior citizens, and industry professionals like to be recognized for their service, wisdom, and profession. Simply setting up cart specials to benefit them and advertising such is enough to get new faces in your dispensary. They may be visiting your store because a friend in the same group told them about your discounts.
Even though these groups are the same as pre-COVID, you may need to consider other ways to attract them now, or other things you can do in-store to help them, such as special hours for vulnerable populations or call-in to order ahead for those less tech savvy.
Now that we’ve talked about types of customers you may encounter in the legal cannabis market, let’s dive into specific tactics to drive new business to your marijuana dispensary.
5 tips for attracting new cannabis customers
1. Cultivate your brand
Establish your brand image with thoughtful care around your culture, mission, and aesthetic. This is more than just your name and logo; while those are important, they’re only part of a greater strategy for a successful cannabis business.
Your brand is the associations you want new customers to have when they think of your dispensary. These may be characteristics like value, quality, novelty, or innovation. There’s no one right characteristic, every business connects with customers in their own way. Think of which values you’d like to pursue and build your dispensary around them.
Once established, unify your brand in your store, on your website, on your social media accounts, and across customer-facing platforms like Weedmaps, Google, Yelp, etc. Everywhere customers look, they should find complete and accurate information paired with on-brand messaging. This is especially important now as more shoppers are looking to complete transactions online.
Also make sure you create a dispensary layout to be clean, inviting, and representative of your brand. If you have an attractive and well-marked storefront, you’ll make a great first impression and gain more clients, especially pedestrians walking by. The challenge is incorporating safe distancing while building the look and flow you want.
Another brand consideration is reviews. Encourage and engage with reviews. Studies show that prospective customers favor products and services based on the quantity of reviews, rather than the content of the reviews source. How you engage with reviewers is an extension of your brand, having both tangible and intangible impacts on your business.
2. Differentiate your products
You’ve taken the time to carefully curate your products. Make sure they are easily accessible to your customers by providing clarity and consistency in how they’re named and labeled.
The products you carry should be easily identifiable to connoisseurs, and descriptive to entice aficionados to try something new. But they should also be easy to understand for novices to feel invited.
Beyond the branding of products, there’s also an inventory perspective to consider. Keep track of popular items and make sure they are always well stocked.
If a customer asks for something you don’t have, take note and consider whether it’s appropriate to add to your product catalog. If you notice trends in tastes, adjust your product mix accordingly to take advantage of the opportunity for increased sales.
It’s your responsibility to not only offer what you like, but also offer what your customers or prospective customers might like. Whether it’s vapes, tinctures, edibles, or flower, aim to find the right mix of product categories and vendors.
If you’re in a competitive market, look for a blend of expected and unique products. Differentiating what you offer could bring you new customers.
And remember that as more business moves to e-commerce, your online menus could bring you significant traffic if you carry products that your cannabis competition doesn't have (and that customers want). Finding that sweet spot may be tough, but it's highly important.
3. Leverage events, holidays, and customer groups
Holidays and special events attract buyers of all tastes. Although these shoppers are looking to buy, deal or not, you can increase your chances of attracting them to your cannabis store by advertising specials for the applicable occasion or type of customer.
For example, if you’re the only dispensary in town offering a daily senior citizen discount, you will likely see more sales from that age group. The key is to get the word out in order to reach those prospective customer groups.
Other discounts for customer groups could include veterans, cannabis industry professionals, or locals. And not only do discounts bring new people into your dispensary, but they can also be effective to retain those customers. Why would I go to a different dispensary if I get a discount at yours just for who I am, what I do for work, or where I live?
For holidays or events, rather than just offering generic specials, make it fun by theming your special around the holiday in question. Everyone enjoys a good pun. Be creative around your events, since many people won't want to attend a big gathering for the foreseeable future. Make sure your specials and offerings are available on order ahead, delivery, curbside pickup, as well as in-store. It'll change events for a while, but you can still create the same kind of buzz with a bit of ingenuity.
Finally, make sure to take advantage of online menus to promote your special events, holidays, or special discounts. Also post on your social media accounts, on your website, and through as many local sources as possible, maybe even taking out an ad in your local event guide.
One note on specials: If your products are competitively priced, people will be more inclined to visit, regardless of specials or first-time buyer incentives. So instead of offering specials for every scenario, also look at your general pricing compared to local competition.
For some inspiration around holiday or event-related specials, see our relevant blog post, Dispensary Marketing Ideas: 10 Creative Cannabis Specials.
4. Offer Zeitgeist specials
Sometimes, for reasons unknown, certain trends and products catapult themselves into the upper stratospheres of consumer desire.
If you see this happen, don’t miss out on the opportunity to attract customers to your dispensary! Make it known to all that you offer the suddenly popular products by updating your customer-facing platforms with clear specials and incentives.
This is another example of how offering unique or differentiated products could help you attract new customers.
Consider even updating your search engine optimization to include keywords related to the trendy products and focus your marketing efforts around that trend or product. The key will be to act fast before your competitors stock that product or prepare for the trend.
8 Cannabis Marketing Strategies for 2020
5. Attract foot traffic
So far we’ve talked about a lot of marketing and inventory management tips for attracting new customers, but let’s not forget about old fashioned walk-by customers, especially if you are in a walkable location.
Outdoor signage provides an excellent opportunity to capture foot traffic, those who may be passing by who previously had no clue there was a dispensary behind your store front doors.
If your business name and logo don’t clearly indicate that it’s a dispensary, consider including additional information or symbolism to remove ambiguity and invite customers to shop.
Working collaboratively with other local businesses can also lead to mutual growth. Consider partnerships that reward customers for visiting both your business and your neighbors. This can take the form of discounts for presenting a coupon from the local ice cream shop and vice versa!
If there are any local events near your dispensary, take advantage of the opportunity to meet new clients by handing out incentives on-site such as branded gear, coupon cards, or promotional flyers. This not only promotes your cannabis company to new customers, but it also deepens your ties to the local community.
Now that we’ve talked about the 7 types of customers you can attract to your dispensary, as well as 5 tips for getting new customers into your store, I hope you have success from implementing some of these tactics.
The cannabis market is different from other businesses in a lot of ways, but they also share similarities. Don’t be afraid to take a page out of traditional retail’s book as you look to continue growing your loyal customer base.
If you'd like to learn more about how Flowhub can help you attract (as well as retain) customers at your dispensary, watch a demo.