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Smarter Dispensary Specials: How to Master Cannabis Deals to Achieve Your Goals

23 August 2019  |  9 min read

cannabis dispensary specials

As saturated legal cannabis markets become more competitive, incentivizing customers to choose your dispensary over others is key to attracting, retaining and growing revenue. Out of all the strategies available to help meet those goals, some of the most dynamic and effective strategies leverage specials.

According to a survey from RetailMeNot, 74%, or nearly 3 out of 4 Americans claim that promotional offers are a factor when deciding where and what to buy online. From a biological and psychological perspective, science tells us that deals or coupons can actually create more happiness. A study led by Dr. Paul J. Zak, professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University in 2012 revealed that participants that were coupon recipients, experienced a 38 percent rise in oxytocin levels (the love hormone) and were 11 percent happier than those who did not receive a coupon.

After analyzing data from 11 different cannabis markets across the United States, the Flowhub team found that dispensary promotional deals are no different. On average, 46% of all cannabis retail transactions include at least one discount. In some markets, that number is as high as 77%.

46% of all cannabis transactions include at least one discount.

Source: Flowhub data


In this post, you’ll learn the most common types of cannabis retail specials, how they can be leveraged to meet your goals, and how to create these specials in the new Flowhub Manage App.

What is your goal?

When considering which kind of special or promotion you want to build, your focus should be on answering one question: What is my goal with this special?

To get the wheels turning, here are some example objectives to consider:

  • Increase brand loyalty
  • Increase the average cart size
  • Increase foot traffic during slow hours
  • Sell slow-moving inventory
  • Sell soon to be expired inventory
  • Promote a new product, brand or partner
  • Boost sales on a specific holiday or during a social event
  • Create urgency with a limited time offer
  • Increase word of mouth promotion
  • Increase your online or digital presence

Once you’ve identified your objective, you can create targeted specials as a tactic to support those goals. Next, we will review some of the most common dispensary special types, and how they are designed to meet different targets, so you can determine the most appropriate strategy for your store.

cannabis dispensary specials

Cart Discounts

Cart discounts are the most common and simplistic type of special. They allow you to apply a percentage discount on the total purchase.

Cart discounts can be used as a long term loyalty strategy to attract and retain a customer group, i.e. 10% off for Veterans, or it can be used to expand your customer base and attract new customers, i.e. Northeast Alternatives’ first-time patient special. If your shop is in a high tourist area, one great way to encourage consistent traffic during off-seasons and beyond is to offer a “locals” discount that incentivizes residents in your area to call your dispensary their own.

Watch how The Green Joint utilizes the Nug Check in App to add local customers to their loyalty program to then automatically offer a 10% discount every time they return.

Cart discounts can also be effective in drawing in customers during slow times of day. Two great examples of this strategy in action are outlined in our recent blog post, Dispensary Marketing Ideas: 10 Creative Cannabis Specials:

  1. Cannabaska offers a 15% off “Early Bird Special” in the first hour that they are open, bringing in more customers before they head to work.
  2. Along the same lines, Airfield Supply Company offers a happy hour special from 2-4 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays to catch customers as they get off work.
airfield supply dispensary happy hour

Item-level discounts

Specials can also be strategically focused on the goal of upselling and promoting specific inventory items. The overarching idea behind these specials is “buy something, get rewarded”. The most common promotions using this discounting strategy are buy-one-get-one (BOGO) discounts, vendor coupons from pop-up events, and conditional purchase deals, such as mix and match bargains, multi-buy deals or giveaways and sweepstakes.

If the goal is to sell slow moving inventory quickly, consider a BOGO, multi-buy, or mix and match special, where customers are incentivized to buy more of a specific item or items in order to reap the rewards. Say you have a batch of flower that you need to sell through to make room for more inventory — offer a discount for a minimum quantity of product purchased and watch your slow moving flower fly off the shelves! Or mix and match your deal to get more products moving.

Green Fire Cannabis in Washington offers two bulk deals, either 25% off for an ounce of flower and 7 grams of hash oil, or 20% off a half ounce and 4 grams of hash oil. Encourage larger cart sizes, and move more product in less time by rewarding customers the more they buy.

green fire cannabis specials

Launching a new product in your store? Be sure that it goes off with a bang by partnering with your supplier vendor for a promotional event that encourages your patrons to try it. For these specials, it is especially effective to utilize a coupon or code that can be used in advertising materials to reach a broader audience. Coupons with discount codes are also easier to track, allowing you to measure the return on investment for your campaign.

Your specials can also be cleverly leveraged to both upsell specific products, and create a lot of buzz among your customer base to increase word of mouth promotion. A great example of this was Green Dragon’s “Golden Ticket Giveaway” where one lucky customer could win a prize valued at $500 if they found the golden ticket hidden in one of their all-flower joint packs. Additionally, giveaways like this tend to have a high return on investment as you’re only rewarding a few lucky winners.

Or, you can leverage a special to increase your online presence. If you want to organically improve your search engine optimization, offer an incentive like a penny joint, or branded swag item for your customers to leave your dispensary an online review.

Timing is everything

fathers day cannabis special

A factor that affects all of the dispensary special types? Timing. For both types of discounts, cart and item-level, you can further convert more customers with a limited time offer. When time limitations are in play, you’re taking advantage of scarcity marketing which uses the psychological condition called fear of missing out (FOMO). Some of the biggest retail chains in the nation use this tactic to boost sales (Macy’s One Day Sale, or Amazon Prime Day) — and it works because it creates a sense of urgency for customers to take action and buy now, lest they miss out on a great deal.

We see sales spike significantly on cannabis holidays like 4/20, 7/10, Green Wednesday or really any blanket holiday like Valentine's Day. These days are ideal opportune times for flash sales, further incentivizing customers to choose your shop during times they already plan on buying weed. As we all know, timing is everything. When creating your specials, keep this factor in mind.

Creating Specials in Flowhub

Flowhub’s new Specials engine is robustly built to give you the ability to create, apply and manage your specials all in one central place. You can easily standardize a single special across one or multiple stores, including any future locations!

Specials built to manage risk of over discounting, meaning it does not allow for stacking multiple cart-level or item-level discounts. If there happens to be two applicable deals for a particular purchase, the Flowhub Specials algorithm automatically calculates the best deal for the customer. This not only makes your patrons happy, but requires no manual effort or time from your budtenders to determine what discount should apply, and saves your margins by preventing double discounting.

Watch how you can create automated Specials in the Flowhub Manage App.

How to create a cart discount

How to create an item-level discount

With Specials power comes great responsibility

With Flowhub’s Specials engine, you have the power to create and manage and track every special across every location from one centralized place. When you’re ready to expand your business to more locations, you can easily apply the same specials across those future locations. Take the hassle out of managing your specials, and better leverage them to meet your revenue goals.

How could Flowhub’s Specials engine help your team to simplify and streamline your back-of-house and front-of-house operations? To find out, reach out to our sales team directly at (844) FLOWHUB, email us at sales@flowhub.com, or request a demo.

Alex Erin

Alex Erin Johnson

Marketing Specialist at Flowhub

As Marketing Specialist for Flowhub, Alex serves to help cannabis license holders grow their business with a compliance-focused and consultative approach. Alex joined Flowhub in 2016 to contribute her efforts to the larger mission of de-stigmatizing this revolutionary plant and helping make regulated cannabis accessible for everyone in need. Alex earned a BS in Business Administration and Marketing as well as a BA in Theatre Studies from the University of Northern Colorado. Drop a line and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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