As medical cannabis grows in popularity, the recreational use of cannabis for medicinal purposes also continues to grow. With the rise of ‘cannabis wellness,’ how should dispensaries change their marketing strategies, customer communications and product offerings to keep up with this trend?
Just because a consumer is not registered as a medical patient does not mean that they are not using cannabis for medicinal purposes. In fact, nine in ten cannabis users consume it as some part of a wellness program – whether it be for the occasional mental health day, or for a chronic illness.
Until now, many people held back from trying cannabis. They lacked adequate knowledge about the plant and their questions about how cannabis affects the mind and body remained unanswered. But with legalization spreading like wildfire, we’ve seen more and more research around its medicinal benefits. As a result of this scientific documentation and a growing social acceptance of cannabis, more people are exploring cannabis for wellness and holistic therapy.
Today, more people than ever are ready to try cannabis for wellness – ranging from minor ailments or athletic recovery, to serious illnesses. Even those using cannabis recreationally are using it for its medicinal benefits. For many new consumers, this is what draws them in.
Opening the Doors to New Markets
The ‘rec to wellness’ effect has introduced new demographics to the market. Cannabis consumers now widely include soccer moms, college students, seniors/elderly, athletes, and fitness fanatics to name a few. They likely sought out cannabis as therapy for ailments such as anxiety, mental illnesses, sleep issues, age-related illnesses, arthritis, muscle recovery or athletic performance.
Because these consumers explore (and use) cannabis differently than the ‘traditional’ consumer, they require a different marketing approach. Let’s now look at some very actionable and specific tactics that you can use to bring in consumers from this wellness-focused consumer base.
What recreational dispensaries can learn from medical dispensaries
About 86% of B2C businesses use content marketing for generating leads and driving engagement. It’s common to find cannabis-related content that’s relevant to the wellness theme on medical dispensary websites. However, you don’t often see this on the websites of recreational dispensaries.
Content marketing can be an effective means of tapping into these new consumer demographics who are hungry for content that answers their cannabis-related queries. By offering valuable, educational content to your audience, you will earn their trust and be top of mind when they are ready to buy. Let’s walk through those stages.
An Audience Brand New to Cannabis
Because some of this audience is not yet even considering or curious about cannabis, you can produce content with the main focus being an ailment – not cannabis. Some example titles are, “Pain Management Techniques,” or “Tips for Sleeping Better Tonight.” Then of course, you will relate this back to how cannabis can help.
Another sizeable portion of this audience may have heard about the medicinal effects of cannabis and are curious, but may lack even a basic understanding of the plant. They likely do not know the difference between indica and sativa (or even that they exist at all) or what THC versus CBD is. Some questions your content can help answer are:
- How does cannabis affect the body and mind?
- Is there scientific proof behind the medicinal effects of cannabis?
- What is the endocannabinoid system?
- What are the safest ways to consume cannabis?
- What is microdosing?
- Can cannabis treat the individaul’s specific concerns (such as stress, anxiety or depression – which are all common in the United States)?
An Audience Exploring Cannabis as an Option
Once they understand these basic concepts, their interest is likely to transition to specific health benefits. For example, someone who is ready to try cannabis for treating a headache might compare their options. Help them find the right solution for their typical searches such as:
- Cannabidiol for migraines
- Indica or sativa for migraines
- CBD dosage for migraines
- Edibles for migraines
- Vape for migraines
- CBD for tension headaches
- Hemiplegic migraine cannabis
An Audience Ready to Buy Cannabis
Finally, the ‘almost-cannabis-consumers’ who are highly considering cannabis will begin to explore specific products available to them. At this stage, they will likely know that there is a wide variety of cannabis products, strains, cannabinoids and terpenes...and that they have different effects. Before they buy, they’ll want to know what qualities they’re looking for in a product. This might include strains, or better yet, the presence of different terpene profiles that are best for their ailment.
According to Budboard, a dispensary menu management system, terpene profiles are a more reliable source than strains for determining the potential wellness benefits of a cannabis product. Through analyzing some of the observational data from their clients, they’ve found a higher correlation between terpene profiles and their reported effects than strain names and their effects.
“That's because two different plants with the same name can have entirely different terpene profiles. For example, Jack Herer should have (according to Leafly and some Budboard profile entries) a terpene profile dominant in Pinene, Limonene, Mycene, Linalool, and Caryophyllene. But, we have also seen Jack Herer entered into Budboard as being dominant in Limonene, Ocimene, Camphene, Alpha-Humulene, and Beta-Myrcene – a completely different profile than that defined for the strain on Leafly.”
In other words, even though both plants are called ‘Jack Herer’ they can be two entirely different plants with different wellness effects. Therefore, the terpene profiles will be your most reliable source for describing the wellness effects of a product.
Social proof is another important component and will be highly valued by the ‘wellness’ consumers. An idea for creating social proof content is through video.
These videos will also be great pieces of content to post on social media – which should also carry on the ‘wellness’ theme.
Social Media Content
Social media can be a great source for dispensaries to engage with and reach new customers. But soccer moms won’t be looking through a bunch of ‘nugg shots.’ Instead, apply some of the tactics described in the content above – provide educational, wellness-focused content.
Instagram posts can be images used to display educational content, like what ailments a particular product is used for, or what terpenes are beneficial for a specific ailment. Twitter or Facebook posts can link to the educational content you’ve posted on your dispensary’s website, or other interesting studies.
Matching your product offering to the wellness demand
According to data from over 700,000 Baker online orders, flower still outsells other cannabis product types. However, the wellness-forward cannabis consumer often looks for the healthiest options of consumption – which is likely one reason that the popularity of flower is declining.
Alternatives to combustion, such as with edibles and vape pens are on the rise. Based on Baker online order data, concentrates alone make up over 20% of the sales in the medical market. Because of this rising trend, you should ensure that you have product inventory that reflects this. Some examples may include:
- Edibles (keep in mind that wellness consumers may choose to avoid high calorie and high sugar edibles, such as brownies)
- Infused beverages (like tea)
- Gum and mints
- Topicals (such as muscle relieving gels or patches or even bath bombs)
- 1:1 or products high in CBD
Ordering Product Based on Customers’ Wellness Needs
I you find through Checkin or Collect that a certain ailment or wellness need is common among your patients, you should consider carrying products that address those needs. For example, according to Budboard, if you find ADHD to be common in your patients, you should stock products that have alpha-terpineol and ocimene terpenes. If common ailments include insomnia, headaches and pain treatment, stock strains with high levels of pinene and myrcene.
If many of your customers are athletes or are interested in fitness, “...you should look into carrying strains high in limonene and ocimene,” which Budboard found to be highly correlated with increased energy and focus.
You customers’ wellness needs will also influence the product types you order. For example, if a large percentage of your customer base suffers from chronic pain, you will likely see muscle rubs and pain-relieving patches fly off your shelves.
Finding the Right Product for the Right Customer
Simply ordering the products that meet these wellness needs aren’t enough, though. Next, you’ll need to ensure these products get in the right customers’ hands.
In addition to the educational content that can help guide your customers to these products, budtenders are a great way to match the right product to the right customer. However, when your dispensary is busy, this becomes a challenge. Additionally, some people prefer to explore on their own. This is why it’s imperative to provide alternatives for customers to learn about the different wellness benefits of your specific products.
This can be achieved through wellness-focused descriptions on your website’s online Shop menu or an in-store Kiosk menu – where customers can explore product information on their own, either from home, or in-store while they wait.
Write detailed product descriptions for each menu. Luckily, you can save time by using menu integrations that will automatically update all your menus across your store and online. In the product descriptions, you can include things like what ailments or wellness needs the product is useful for, what kinds of people use it, and any other wellness effects. You can even go into further detail by providing terpene profiles and cannabinoid information.
Using smart messaging for wellness to drive sales
Because the modern cannabis consumer can be anyone (from a senior citizen to a hiking enthusiast), learning enough about them to provide personalized experiences is challengeing for many dispensaries. But dispensary clients of Baker, using solutions like Checkin and Collect, are able to learn more about their customers as soon as they sign up with them than most dispensaries learn in years.
With these tools, you can even customize the type of information you learn about your customers. This might include interests and hobbies, wellness needs, or even the individual’s communication preferences. Tracking this data makes it significantly easier to send personalized messages through the Baker Connect SMS messaging platform.
While some customers may want to be updated on every new product and promo, most only want updates on the products that interest them or speak to their ailment. Personally, I am one of these people.
As a cannabis-for-wellness consumer myself, I rarely smoke flower, and I primarily use cannabis for relief from chronic back pain. So when ‘Dispensary A’ kept sending me promotions such as, “20% off all eighths today!” I was not excited. I did not go in and buy any eighths. Instead...I ended up removing myself from their list.
The next day, ‘Dispensary B’ sent me an SMS message to tell me about a new pain-relieving gel (from the same brand that I always buy) that was just released. I clicked the link to reserve my product, then picked it up after work.
Likewise, when you identify a customer’s wellness needs, you can create personalized communications that won’t drive them away, and will drive them to your store. For instance, your customers that have Parkinson's may also be interested in arthritis-relieving products, as it’s another age-related ailment. Without all this data, you could end up sending a 65-year old Parkinson's patient a mass message that might read something like, "20% of eighths today!!! Come get your nuggs!"
Wrapping it up
As ‘rec-to-wellness’ expands, it’s important to begin applying the dispensary marketing tips outlined in this article. Your first steps are to get set up with the tools you need, and plan your wellness strategy.
Our customer success team works closely with our dispensary clients who want to cater to the ever-so-growing wellness consumers. If you’re ready to target this customer segment, get in touch or request a customized demo to see how Baker can help your dispensary deliver personalized marketing at scale to these consumers.