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 use specials.
Why you should offer cannabis deals or 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 cannabis deals are no different. On average, 49% of all cannabis retail transactions include at least one discount. In some markets, that number is as high as 82%.
49% of 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 help you meet your goals, and for Flowhub customers, how to create these specials in your dispensary point of sale system.
Identify the objectives of your cannabis deals
When considering which kind of cannabis special, discount, 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
Identifying your goal first is important because the objective of your special will help you determine the best way to create targeted specials as a tactic to support those goals.
Next, we will review three types of dispensary special, and how they support different goals, so you can determine the most appropriate strategy for your store.
3 common types of dispensary specials
Most dispensary specials fit into three categories: Buy something, get rewarded, cart discounts, and event discounts. The following sections will break down each different type of special and show examples.
Buy something, get rewarded
The buy something, get rewarded dispensary special is just what it sounds like — when a customer buys a specified item, they get another specified item for a discounted price. For example, if you buy one thing, say a 1/8th of top shelf flower, or CBD gummies, or shatter, or tincture at shelf price, you get another thing (maybe the same thing, or maybe a specific different thing) for a discounted price.
Specials can 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. If using this discount to move product nearing expiration, you can increase the discount amount as the expiration date gets closer.
Or say you have a batch of top shelf 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 offered 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.
Cart discounts are the most common and simplistic type of special. They allow you to apply a discount on the total purchase of all items in your cart.
Cart discounts can be used as a long term loyalty strategy to attract and retain a customer group, for example, offering a 10% veterans or senior discount. Or it can be used to expand your customer base and attract new customers, i.e. Northeast Alternatives’ first-time patient special or industry discount. Alternatively, cart discounts can be used to incentivize a behavior, like discounts on online orders or curbside pickup.
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 marijuana 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 related blog post, Dispensary Marketing Ideas: 10 Creative Cannabis Specials:
- 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.
- 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 leave work.
Event discounts are often more episodic. This category includes coupon codes or one-time percent discounts, often from an event or marketing effort.
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.
Dispensary Marketing Ideas: 10 Creative Cannabis Specials
Best practices for creating effective dispensary specials
For all three types of discounts, 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.
It may be tempting to create tons of different types of specials, but these become more difficult to manage. Not only is it time consuming to enter dozens of specials and keep it current over time, but it makes it more challenging to determine which discount is the best deal for customers.
Your dispensary point of sale system will track your specials and determine the best option, but if you have 100s of specials, you’re creating more complexity than is beneficial.
Instead, we suggest creating a handful of everyday specials as cart-level discounts, maybe for locals and veterans, and use event discounts as appropriate to your strategic marketing efforts. Then, maybe you use the buy something, get rewarded discount with different promotions for daily deals, like Thirsty Thursdays is a 20% discount on all beverages.
Having simplified specials means your staff and customers are never confused about what specials are currently available and managers have far less to manage. You can delight customers with smart specials, not necessarily more specials.
Specials are most powerful when they save customers money, but also when they are current and fresh. Consider changing your daily specials quarterly to keep them fresh. But make sure you communicate this to regular customers so they don’t expect a discount when it’s not available.
Also consider auditing your specials regularly, at least quarterly, to make sure they are effective. If Flower Fridays are successful (i.e. the discount is used at a high volume, which is viewable in your POS reporting), but if Munchie Mondays are a bust, you may want to adjust to another discount that will drive businesses.
As you’re thinking up specials, make sure you find the balance between being profitable for your dispensary, while being meaningful for customers.
As consumers, we’ve all seen specials that prompt us to buy, and others that leave us disappointed. Put yourself in the shoes of customers as you’re planning your specials. Even if the discount doesn’t have large monetary value, the sheer surprise of getting a discount can please shoppers.
A special like buy one pre-roll, get one for a dollar is a good value for someone already interested in joints. And a simple 10% discount for seniors is enough to prompt that cannabis consumer demographic to visit your store (and tell their friends that you give them discounts).
Always complete a few test transactions to ensure a seamless customer experience when launching a new special.
Try several variations in your tests to make sure the customer gets the right special, and that the special performs as expected. Make any applicable edits and test again until it’s correct.
How to create specials in Flowhub
Flowhub’s 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 was 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 these quick videos for step-by-step instruction on how to create specials in the Flowhub Manage App.
How to create a cart discount
How to create a "buy something, get rewarded" special
With specials power comes great responsibility
Specials give you the power to create, 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.
To see how specials can help your team simplify and streamline your back-of-house and front-of-house operations, reach out to our sales team directly at (844) FLOWHUB, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or request a demo.