The cannabis industry has changed exponentially over the past few years, with over 90% of Americans in support of the legalization of cannabis for either medical or recreational use (up from 62% in 2019). Medical and recreational product sales increased by 46% from 2019 to 2020, partially driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and partially due to changing legislation around cannabis legalization. No longer driven by millennials alone, almost every generation presents an opportunity for potential customers.
With such a massive potential target audience, the cannabis market is now struggling with a new challenge: reaching its intended customer base. To help demystify the canna-consumer, we conducted a cannabis survey of over 8,000+ consumers to identify:
- Who cannabis consumers are
- How these consumers shop for cannabis products
- The best ways to market to cannabis consumers
- And more!
Here, we’ll share our top data-backed cannabis marketing ideas to help you reach your customers and potential customers.
14 cannabis marketing tips for your strategy
Use these cannabis marketing tips to improve your strategy and reach more consumers.
1. Build your cannabis marketing strategy around the right audience
According to our study, the cannabis market can be divided into four major segments: Baby Boomers, Frequent Shoppers, Affluent Families, and Acceptors.
To secure your piece of the cannabis market pie, you’ll want to develop specific marketing strategies around your targeted segment. This means you’ll need access to detailed demographic data, including shopping behaviors and consumption motivation. Once you have that data in hand, the next step is to plan your cannabis advertising and marketing strategies around those core consumer segments and share them across the channels they trust for the most effective reach.
As an example, consider the affluent family group who are wealthy, highly educated, and spend over $623 million on cannabis-related products. This group is generally looking to cannabis to help manage stress, and they gravitate towards content from local news sites. In contrast, baby boomers use cannabis as a pain management solution and access information via search engines, online videos, or newspapers.
2. Create rewards programs to attract (and create) frequent shoppers
Our study found that 70% of frequent shoppers visit a dispensary 3-4x per month. While frequent shoppers aren’t a very loyal group, they do value the use of rewards cards so they can rack up points during their visits.
Consider running a customer loyalty program so you can bring frequent shoppers back to your dispensary and create frequent shoppers out of your other consumer groups.
Identify the rewards your customers would most appreciate—like a discount after their 10th visit, a free item, or a piece of branded swag. Ask your current loyal customers what would entice them to join your rewards program and keep tapping into those happy customers to make sure your program is consistently delivering.
3. Invest in the marketing channels cannabis consumers trust
We found that cannabis consumers trust news websites and enjoy curated content offered on Instagram and Pinterest. So you can use marketing tactics like branded content to curate content for this audience within the news sites they already trust and invest in an organic social media marketing strategy to share your content on these channels.
4. Use email marketing or SMS marketing to promote specials and deals
Cannabis consumers indicated that they like to be notified of promotions through emails and text messages, so that’s another opportunity for your business to reach them.
By running email marketing campaigns tailored to your target audience and promoting either the content or offers that they value, you can increase the chances that they’ll visit your business or choose you over a competitor.
5. Engage cannabis customers with your brand story
To attract consumers with your cannabis marketing, you need to create your unique brand story that connects with your target audience and market segment.
To help you get started on this path, ask yourself these questions:
- What makes you different?
- How are you communicating that differentiation to your customers?
- Does your staff reinforce that differentiation, in service or knowledge provided?
- How do you help customers with their purchase selection?
- Are you pulling all these answers into a unique story about your business?
Can you incorporate any of the top cannabis brand selection drivers into your brand story?
Once you’ve identified your brand story, you can use it to differentiate your cannabis brand from others in the market and attract customers whose values, interests, and priorities align with your own. This builds trust in your brand and can contribute to building loyal customers.
6. Highlight what makes your brand special
Another way to stand out from the competition is to highlight what makes your cannabis brand special. For example, 71% of affluent families value a dispensary that grows and sells its own products. If your dispensary does this, you can highlight it in your cannabis marketing materials to attract this group.
If you don’t grow and sell your own products, you might highlight your one-to-one service or employees who act as consultants or even your discounted prices or loyalty program.
Understanding and outlining your brand story (like we mentioned above!) can help you determine what makes you special and help you appeal to the right audience.
7. Use geotargeting to attract nearby cannabis customers
Many cannabis brands operate as local businesses and look to attract customers that are close by. Our study found that 40% of baby boomers visited a dispensary because it was close to home or work.
By using geo-targeting in your cannabis advertising, you can easily reach these consumers and entice them to visit your dispensary with an offer or by sharing what makes you special.
8. Create educational content
Cannabis consumers value content that provides them with resources to support their style, health, and everyday lives. So, if you can provide that to them through your web content and cannabis marketing materials, you can put yourself in a good position to capture new customers and establish brand loyalty.
For example, you could create a video series around the benefits of cannabis for pain management or stress relief tips. You could also create blog posts around common cannabis misconceptions or frequently asked questions to win over new customers and showcase your expertise.
This cannabis brand created a series of articles to educate consumers on various aspects of cannabis products.
Providing information and resources that align with what prospective customers search for can help you attract new cannabis consumers to your business.
9. Deliver great customer service
Cannabis customers value great customer service and seek out cannabis businesses that offer that—in addition to good prices.
It’s important to train your team to deliver great customer service because it can help build trust, increase customer retention, and make your customers happy. Plus, we know that 86% of people say they’re willing to pay more for a better experience, so this is an essential part of any good cannabis marketing strategy.
This cannabis brand highlights the ways they serve customers clearly on their website.
10. Manage your online reputation
For cannabis businesses, customer retention is even more challenging with 67% of those surveyed stating that they have shopped at two or more dispensaries in the past three months. In other words, customer or brand loyalty is practically non-existent in the emerging cannabis market. So cannabis businesses should devise a cannabis marketing strategy that keeps this in mind.
Over 80% of those surveyed say a dispensary’s reputation is essential to their selection process, so you want to make sure your brand’s reputation is in tip-top shape.
11. Understand cannabis marketing regulations
Cannabis marketing can be a challenge because there are many rules and regulations regarding how you can (and can’t) market your cannabis brand or products. Understanding cannabis marketing regulations and identifying the marketing strategies you can use to reach your audience can help put you ahead of the competition and maximize your marketing dollars.
Here are some cannabis marketing regulations to keep in mind:
- Using traditional media that can be viewed or heard nationally like television and radio to sell or distribute marijuana is still against federal law, even in many legalized states.
- Facebook’s U.S. advertising policy currently bans ads that promote cannabis sales and requires users to avoid posting images of recreational or medical marijuana and accessories.
- Instagram refuses to allow any dispensary advertising even in states and countries where it’s legal. And their policy prohibits businesses from providing contact information on their account page.
- Google restricts ads for recreational drugs, paraphernalia, and “instructional content.”
- Cannabis advertising regulations vary by state, so it’s important to be familiar with the regulations in your area.
12. Invest in a great website
Your website is the foundation of your cannabis marketing strategy, so it’s important that you have a site that is easy to find, easy to navigate, and includes all the relevant information a prospective cannabis consumer would need to become a customer.
You also want to make sure that your contact information is displayed prominently on every page of your site and that it’s easy for people to contact you—either directly through your website like with a contact form, click-to-call phone number, or live chat—or off your site with a listed email address and your phone number.
Here’s a great example of a cannabis website that includes easy-to-use navigation and live chat.
13. Invest in local SEO
Because there are so many regulations around cannabis advertising, investing in local SEO is one of the best ways for your dispensary to get found online.
By investing in a cannabis SEO strategy that prioritizes the right keywords, SEO-friendly website content, and a local approach, you can increase your chances of ranking for relevant searches on top search engines like Google and Bing. Plus, you won’t have to worry about ads showing before your results, giving you more real estate on the search engine results page.
14. Make sure your dispensary is listed on local sites
Another way that consumers search for dispensaries is through maps and local listings, so make sure that your cannabis brand has all its locations listed on local listings sites like Google My Business and Bing Business.
You want to make sure that your phone number, address, hours of operation, and website link are all accurate on your listings so customers can easily contact you or visit your location. And you’ll want to make sure you’re getting good reviews to show up on your listing by managing your online reputation as we touched on earlier.
Better cannabis marketing
Cannabis marketing is certainly a challenge, but it can be made easier by using the right marketing strategies based on consumer behavior and how your target audience is searching for your products.
Try these 14 cannabis marketing ideas to increase customer loyalty, get new customers, and grow awareness for your cannabis brand:
- Build your cannabis marketing strategy around the right audience
- Create rewards programs to attract (and create) frequent shoppers
- Invest in the marketing channels consumers trust
- Use email marketing or SMS marketing to promote specials and deals
- Engage cannabis customers with your brand story
- Highlight what makes your brand special
- Use geotargeting to attract nearby customers
- Create educational content
- Deliver great customer service
- Manage your online reputation
- Understand cannabis marketing regulations
- Have a great website for your cannabis brand
- Invest in local SEO
- Make sure your dispensary is listed on local sites