“The Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition (CWCBE) is a business-to-business trade show event for the legalized cannabis industry. It is held 3 times per year in the largest media, financial, and business markets: New York, Los Angeles, and Boston. It is the leading forum for dispensary owners, growers, suppliers, investors, medical professionals, government regulators, legal counsel, and entrepreneurs looking to achieve business success and identify new areas of growth in this dynamic and fast-growing industry.”
This year, we got the opportunity to take our brand to the big city of Boston and make our debut on the showroom floor of CWCBE 2019, which means that we got access to exclusive industry information that was offered for all attendees. Now, we understand that not everybody was able to attend, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We not only worked the floor making industry connections, but we also had our heads in the major cannabis industry conversations lead by market experts at the venue during the exposition.
We want to set you up for success. If you’re launching a recreational cannabis retail store right as the prohibition ends in your area, then having foolproof ways of gaining loyal and returning customers is just the cherry on top. Coming straight from the industry experts that were present at the expo, the largest takeaway is regarding strategies to service and products to broaden and cater to consumers of all kinds.
We’re going to be highlighting the 5 distinguished trends that industry experts from CWCBE 2019 noted are going to be huge and will give you a competitive advantage, and we’re going to share them with you today.
The Future of Cannabis Users
Think back to when the prohibition of alcohol lifted — it took a bit of time, but look where we are now.
You can now consume alcohol in many different forms, sizes, prices, and places — it’s even a part of our culture now which is huge! And just like how that industry boomed once it was legalized, cannabis is set up to do just the same. It’s going to take some time for laws and regulations to settle in and for industry players to get in alignment to sell, but, according to Gallup, over 65% of Americans are pushing for cannabis to be federally legalized, which is a huge development from only 12% being supportive of the idea in 1969.
Cannabis is widely used to unwind, relax, to pair with day activities, night events, and even for creativity or as a form of medication and treatment. Once cannabis gains positive traction and the stigma in-turn decreases, more people will be willing to give it a try (… and the facts show that people already are!) The industry is ready and ramping up for full throttle federal legalization and we’re ready to set you up for a successful launch!
The 5 Rising Trends for Cannabis Retail
With all of this in mind, we’re going to dive into the hot trends in the cannabis industry that you’re going to want to accomodate for in your recreational cannabis dispensary.
1. Consumers Want Control, and You Have to Help With That
56% of cannabis users are new to the space and don’t have much experience buying cannabis. This means that they’re going to need guidance on even the small things. You never want a customer to walk into your store with questions and walk out with products that they don’t know what to expect or how to use properly.
Some people are pushed to the edge from a bad first experience and don’t feel comfortable experimenting with cannabis again (or at least for awhile). I mean, think of it in terms of alcohol — not knowing how many drinks you can have during a night out before you go too far isn’t exactly something you want to experiment with. This is even something that would stop just as many people from drinking as it would for people who were interested in giving cannabis a try.
Make it a priority to educate your customers
Now that cannabis is being legalized left right and center in the USA, cannabis education is going to be crucial for new users entering dispensaries. It’s been shown that 46% of customers are influenced by ‘mood and affect labelling’ which are descriptions made for the purpose of promising a certain experience, when really, everyone reacts differently. Now, this labelling was created with good intentions — it’s supposed to act as a base to point consumers toward an experience that they could envision themselves enjoying. The issue is, and why it’s actually illegal to do in Canada, is because of the individuality of the shopper — everyone has different reasons for why they consume cannabis, everyone has different tolerances, some may enjoy consuming it in different ways or for medical reasons — whatever the case… every consumer needs a personalized experience.
So, if you want to cater to every customer that comes into your dispensary you should aim to create educational signage that informs your new customers about what products they could start with depending on how they want to consume their cannabis. You could even make an effort to reach out to new customers and kindly ask if they’ve ever shopped for cannabis products before and scope out whether they need additional assistance or advice when choosing products.
Customers will stay loyal if they trust you
Customers will choose your dispensary based off your reputation. The aim is to try to accommodate everyone, and customer support is a huge factor within this. 43% of millennials consider peer reviews the most important factor when choosing brands or products to buy, and you know what they say — you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Brand loyalty and product loyalty are rooted in trust. If your customers have a reason to trust your brand, then you’re sure to make lifetime customers.
2. Low-Dosage Consumption is Integral for New Users
Along with education, these new customers will want to try to get a feel for their tolerance and dial into what they enjoy before diving deep into a high that they’re not prepared for. 44% of edible consumers prefer low-dose (<10mg) products. New customers want a more accurate picture of what they can expect to feel — the last thing we want to do is mislead shoppers into purchasing something outside of their comfort zone. Consider products that come in various dosages, sizes, methods of consumption, and for both THC and CBD to appeal to your whole demographic.
Cannabis alternatives taking over the market
CWCBE suggested that the sale of the actual cannabis flower is down recently, but the demand for cannabis concentrates are up. So, products such as oils and extracts are hot commodities right now and you can expect to sell more alternative ways to use THC and CBD now that everyone is exploring what works best for them.
Low-dose cannabis beverages are making their debut
A ‘low-dose’ cannabis beverage contains about 10mg of THC. Now, cannabis drinks may not be flying off the shelves just yet, but we’re predicting that in the New Year there will be much more demand for shoppers to sample and purchase. Everyone wants to sample new products that come into the market, I mean, if you hadn’t tried one, wouldn’t you be curious too?
At the moment, cannabis beverages make up 6% of total edible sales at dispensaries — not much, we know, but the market has grown over 70% in the past 2 years, and market research predicts that the cannabis beverage market will rise to be worth over a billion dollars by 2022 — just think of the potential your store has selling these sought-out drinks!
3. Offer your Customers Online Ordering and Delivery Options
It’s 2019. Today’s consumers, millennials specifically, expect to be able to pick up their phone, place an order and enjoy the gratification of almost instant delivery. Blame corporate giants such as Amazon, Uber Eats, GrubHub, or Doordash for creating those expectations. 88% of consumers are willing to pay more for expedited delivery and 67% of your demographic prefer to shop online as opposed to in store, which will make your store more attractive to the right audience.
CWCBE noted that customers are shifting their expectations towards an online on-demand delivery service because of these instant delivery models. Not everyone has time to go into a brick and mortar store anymore… I mean, we live in a generation where people get their groceries delivered to their homes. Offering online ordering and same-day home delivery will be a major factor when these customers consider where they shop from, and what shopping experience fits their lifestyle. We strongly advise dispensaries that once regulations allow home delivery models in your area, you should set your store up. This will not only benefit those who don’t have time to physically come in, but it will also give the customers who know exactly what they the comfort to shop from home without facing a long line up each time they’re running low. Keep in mind that by offering your products online will also ultimately extend your service reach, which will get you more customers and in-turn more sales.
The key to success with this is to set up an online ordering and home delivery infrastructure early-on because it will make your operation efficient from the get-go. Convenience is worth a lot these days and your customers are going to love you for it!
Service those with mobility issues
Taking your business online and offering simplicity and convenience also opens up your reach to include those who have mobility issues and can’t leave their homes as easily. 86% of legal sales are medicinal, and trends show that they purchase about $40 worth of product each month (amounting to approximately $500 annually). By expanding your reach, you could be greatly increasing your sales by accommodating for those who cannot visit your store in-person.
Illicit market cannabis just isn’t safe enough anymore
The news lately seems to be littered with illicit cannabis-related incidents, and people just aren’t comfortable getting cannabis off the streets anymore. When given equal access to legal and illegal cannabis, consumers are willing to pay up to 50% more for legal cannabis knowing that it’s safe and of the highest quality. According to The National Cannabis Survey (NCS) 76% of cannabis consumers say that the two most common factors they seek out are quality and safety, followed by lowest price (38%) and accessibility (33%). Offer your customers the convenience that the illicit market brings, but with the peace of mind and product quality that they turn to you for.
4. Social Consumption Lounges are Coming
Just like bars offer alcoholic drinks, once regulations pass in your province or state, you could be seeing a similar concept, but with cannabis!
Social consumption lounges are meant to be a safe space to consume cannabis with your peers. From smoking, to edibles, to cannabis drinks, these lounges actually represented about 7% of total cannabis sales in 2019. Now, take this concept with a grain of salt. To begin launching social consumption lounges across America, there has to be tons of trial and error as well as research for what the maximum consumption can be in a single sitting or over a period of time spent at one of these lounges.
These lounges are going to start with offering CBD products until the FDA determines how to handle offering THC experiences federally. So although these aren’t quite ready for the spotlight in your city, this concept is definitely something to keep on your radar and look into if the idea intrigues you!
5. Cannabis Isn’t Just for People Anymore
CBD-infused products have been on the market for longer than THC cannabis products. This is because CBD products offer the non-intoxicating experience of cannabis paired its therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and seizure-suppressant properties. THC provokes the classic ‘high’ that may include a sense of euphoria, reverie, heightened sensory awareness, and therapeutic benefits as well which is why it’s not as widespread in terms of product offerings. Historically, cannabis has been cultivated for its euphoric and therapeutic effects, which are largely attributed to THC, but now that cannabis is being used for its benefits as opposed to the ‘high’, CBD is winning for segments beyond dispensaries.
Now that cannabis products have built up a good reputation for humans, it only makes sense that it’s now moving into a market that helps mans best friend as well.
Cannabis pet products are picking up traction
If something works for you, why not your pets too? Cannabis pet products are starting to gain some traction and you better believe that people are willing to try anything and at whatever cost for the sake of their pet’s health and happiness. 65% of the pet products in the market are CBD-dominant, leaving the remaining 35% of the market capitalizing on THC infusions. Plus, just in the past year (2018–2019) we’ve seen significant market growth; to date, cannabis pet products have earned an astounding $20 million in sales. Plus, the entire cannabis market is still young, so we’re ashoeing to see more demand and diversity of pet products in the future. So although this category of products are overlooked a lot of the time, the market is headed that way, and the demand is there! When customers come in looking for these kind of products, will you be able to accomodate?
Well, there you have it. Set your cannabis retail shop up for success — the big trend seems to allude to a cannabis shop that accommodates everyone and everywhere. Your customers ultimately drive the market, so tailoring a shopping experience for their benefit could be what differentiates you from some of the other shops around.
Want to take your shop a step further? Visit Verda’s partner page to learn how you can add online ordering and same-day home delivery to your recreational cannabis retail store.
If regulations allow home-delivery in your town/state and you want to get ahead and add it to your store, please contact us and we can get you set up and ready to take-on online sales!