As the consumption of cannabis for medicinal purposes increases, there's a need for recreational dispensaries to find new ways to attract a more diverse consumer demographic. These growing consumer demographics require a different marketing approach than the traditional recreational user that once represented the entire dispensary target market.
Unlike traditional cannabis users, this fast-growing consumer base does not use cannabis for strictly recreational purposes. Instead, they use cannabis to lead a more fulfilling and active lifestyle. These consumers use cannabis to improve their quality of life and to deal with a host of health issues, such as anxiety and depression, sleeplessness, age-related illnesses and athletic recovery, among others. They look for a cannabis shopping experience that feels safe and comfortable offering an appealing store design, friendly budtenders, and slick packaging.
Who is the 'New Market'?
The consumers who are expected to soon dominate the cannabis consumer-base are widely unfamiliar with cannabis and its medicinal use cases. The dispensary shopping experience is also new to them, so they can easily feel uncomfortable in an environment that's not optimized for their comfort.
Some of these rising market demographics that dispensaries are beginning to tap into are busy mothers, college students, senior citizens and exercise enthusiasts. When marketing to these rising demographics, it’s important to keep in mind that many of them are not actively looking for cannabis-based solutions – they may not know that cannabis can help.
Despite the level of cannabis knowledge, it’s important to understand that many of these consumers will not immediately be ready to purchase. They need to be educated with insightful information regarding their ailment and potential solutions – which includes cannabis.
In addition to education, acquiring these cannabis markets requires a multi-channel marketing approach that utilizes SEO, social media, and advertising, among others. Here is a much deeper look into some of marketing tactics and content needs of this growing cannabis consumer base.
Actionable Ways to Acquire New Customer Types
No matter what consumer profile or marketing channel you use, your focus should not be to 'sell cannabis.’ Instead, target the health and lifestyle wants and needs faced by these individuals. After you've offered them genuinely useful content, introduce them to how cannabis can help.
Women, particularly busy moms, are a fast-growing cannabis consumer base. After all, they lead busy lives between feeding their families, childcare and even working full time. With that in mind, here are some effective ways you can market to this demographic.
1. Social Media
Let’s be honest, you won't find these women searching Instagram for a bunch of nugg shots. So instead of posting photos of your latest trim, engage them by posting lifestyle-oriented tips and best practices. More importantly, target the problems these women face on a daily basis, such as stress, insomnia and even just a desire to relax and unwind.
Another effective tactic is to find influencers popular with this demographic to talk about how cannabis can enrich one’s lifestyle. To find these local influencers, you can begin searching for groups on Facebook that they may be interested in. Some examples might include DIY, fashion or accessories, and fitness. Here are some more tips for finding local influencers.
2. Content and SEO
According to this article from The Week, busy moms suffer from issues such as sleeplessness, anxiety, muscle aches, menstrual cramps, and day to day stress – and they're actively searching for solutions. Based on these search behaviors, you should create informational blog content that covers topics such as, "5 things that will help you sleep through the night.” And of course, one of those 5 solutions will be cannabis related.
Mild and non-combustible products that don't smell are popular among this demographic. One product in particular that is spreading quickly is sublingual spray - it's fast-acting, doesn't smell and easy to use. Other product hits include beverages, bath bombs and tinctures that contain little to no THC (but still provide wellness benefits from other cannabis compounds). Also, try stocking similar products such as nasal spray, dissolvable powder, mints, and muscle relief gel.
This consumer base is typically made up of active, multi-tasking women, so you can expect to find them at a women’s health convention. There is also a good chance you'll find them at cannabis-themed wellness events. Other popular hangouts include 'Tupperware Parties' where women get together and share knowledge about their latest cannabis product finds. "It's all about understanding how cannabis works for your body,” says owner Terri Nopp. Hosting or speaking at such events is a surefire way to reach this growing consumer market.
It is unlikely that you’ll find mothers subscribing to any cannabis magazines. Some alternative options to look into are women’s magazines and publications or local newspapers.
Additionally, instead of product or promotional advertisements that feature your latest discounts, focus on advertorial stories. These can quote you as a cannabis and wellness expert, and act as a subtle ad for your dispensary. Here is a good example for inspiration.
About 2.4 percent of college students consume cannabis every day, making them an emerging cannabis market. It is important to note that these college students must of course be 21 years or older for adult-use, and 18 years or older for medical use.
1. Social Media
College students are tech-savvy. They rely on Facebook and Instagram as news and informational outlets. A great way to engage this demographic is by sharing educational content on social media. Post social media tips about handling anxiety and depression in college life – which are two of the most common complaints college students face.
Additionally, social communities, like Quora, are full of cannabis-related questions from college and university students. You can jump into any relevant threads to provide a response to their questions with credible information. You'll be surprised by how many local college cannabis consumers (both adult-use and medical) will discover you from your Quora participation. Because not all college students are able to legally purchase or consume cannabis, be mindful when marketing to this group.
2. Content and SEO
It is common for college students to suffer from anxiety and depression, which negatively affects their studies and ability to perform academically. So online they often perform searches such as, "How to study with anxiety and depression.” These are all SEO key search terms that you can include in your dispensary blog.
The searches by college students that are aware of cannabis’ medicinal properties may look a bit different. They will specify ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana’ in their searches – meaning they will search phrases such as, "cannabis for better studying," or "the best strains for studying."
As cannabis legalization spreads, clinicians (many of whom once did not approve of medicinal cannabis use) are now looking to embrace it as an effective treatment. Between 1 and 4 young adults suffer from a diagnosed mental health disorder and many with anxiety-related illnesses find relief from cannabis. Popular strains for anxiety and depression include Sour Diesel and Blue Dream.
Unlike busy moms, it's quite unlikely to find students at a health convention. To attract these students, you can use themes and events, like the Super Bowl or National Dog Day, to plan marketing campaigns. You can host events, vendor popups or even run promos at your dispensary to create buzz around the event. A great way to inform college students of these special is events by sending an SMS message.
Digital advertising campaigns are much more effective at breaking into this college student consumer base than offline media. Search for digital publications that are popular among college students and also allow cannabis advertising. A couple of other ways to reach this audience is to get published or interviewed for a campus TV station, radio station or publication. Here are some excellent advertising tips for college students that you can easily replicate for your cannabis retail business.
According to Men’s Journal, the elderly are the fastest-growing cannabis demographics in the United States. They are typically interested in using cannabis as an alternative therapy to provide relief from age-related ailments such as Parkinson’s and arthritis.
1. Social Media
Though some seniors are active users on social media, it’s use is not as widespread. Therefore, it may not be the best way to break into this user base, as they might not regularly use these platforms.
2. Content and SEO
To target this user group, write keyword-optimized articles on topics related to age-related concerns. An example is, "4 most common elderly health issues and their solutions." You can also write about some of the specific ailments, such as, "Living with Parkinson's." In these articles, you'll want to tie it back to cannabis, and back to the products you offer at your dispensary.
Products high in CBD are effective for treating a host of age-related health issues such as pain, anxiety, Glaucoma, insomnia, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's, among others. Therefore, your product offering can include easy-to-consume products that are high in CBD and low in THC. Offer CBD in a variety of forms such as edibles, capsules and pills, transdermal patches, and topicals.
Many senior citizens are restricted by transportation, and therefore stay close to home – which may be a nursing home or retirement community. Try contacting a local nursing home or senior community to arrange an in-house event. Another great example from one of our clients, Lightshade is their Senior Support Services initiative.
The traditional newspaper ad may be a good way to break into this consumer base. Just remember to reference age-related ailments and cannabis can help in your advertisement. Another effective option to consider is direct mail. Just make sure to look into the requirements in your state. You can also ask the nursing home or retirement community if you can drop off a stack of flyers or pamphlets to share with the residents.
Fitness-forward consumers are another growing market for the cannabis industry. They typically are interesting in using cannabis for exercise performance, speeding up their recovery process, or for more relaxing yoga sessions.
1. Social Media
Facebook and Instagram are two great channels to use to engage with this consumer. Try posting athletic performance and workout tips on your dispensary's social media pages. You can always tie these tips back to cannabis and your products! It's also smart to incorporate influencers into your dispensary social media strategy. Try to find local-level athletes or fitness influencers to post about cannabis for athletic performance and wellness and drive those interested to your website.
2. Content and SEO
To bring fitness enthusiasts to your website, write blog content about topics they're interested. You can create material with topics such as, "Athletic performance and recovery," or "Workout tips." You can also target cannabis-specific search phrases such as "cannabis for athletic training," or "cannabis for endurance.”
Pain relieving topicals that are high in CBD are popular products for muscle recovery. Other frequently used products are capsules, cannabis-infused beverages, and edibles. Keep in mind that this demographic will steer clear from the edibles high in fat or sugar.
When this group looks for cannabis products, they usually have two key concerns top of mind. They are concerned about the consumption method and how it affects their lungs (which would negatively impact their athletic performance), and if the product will actually improve their performance and recovery. So, stay away from promoting combustible products such as flower or prerolls to this audience.
Arrange events at your dispensary that educate fitness enthusiasts on the use of cannabis for health and wellness, or athletic recovery. Another idea is to host an activity-related event. Book a beautiful outdoor venue and host a cannabis yoga class! Here's an example from one of our clients, Mapleglen Care Center – you can tell from the comments that this idea is a hit!
Though all the advertising tips we saw above will attract this consumer market, a particularly effective tactic is to utilize fitness influencers. Search for fitness magazines or publications as well as social media influencers to help you target the best advertising options.
Once you bring them to your website, convince them to subscribe to your newsletter or join your SMS subscriber list. Explaining the benefits of subscribing will help boost subscribers – get exclusive cannabis tips, studies, or special deals on products.
Use smart targeting to find the nearly-ready-to-buy users (who usually signed up to receive communications from you, but have not made a purchase yet) and direct them to your online menu where they can easily learn more and place an order.
Additionally, it's important to list your dispensary on as many cannabis directories and review websites as you can. If you have not done so already, register your dispensary for a Google Business listing, Yelp, and claim your listing on PotGuide. All these will get you more exposure and bring more traffic to your website and to your dispensary.
Wrapping it up …
Acquiring these new cannabis consumer demographics requires an educational approach more than anything else. With the right content and by using a mix of the different cannabis marketing tactics, you can effectively market to the evolving cannabis consumer.
The Baker marketing platform enables cannabis marketers to attract and engage with these new demographics through tools such as Connect, web Collect and Online Ordering. Learn more about the full Baker platform and schedule a customized demo today!