Even an experienced cannabis consumer must be confused by the sheer number of products available for sale in a good-sized legal dispensary.
The local dealer I used before legalization, a really nice guy with John Lennon glasses and a red Porsche, had good flower. From exotic places. But we never discussed anything related to:
- Cannabinoids, Flavonoids & Terpenes
- Organic weed
- Edible options in Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Pretzels, Peanut Butter & Honey (and many others)
- Indica vs Sativa & Hybrid options
- Resin, Shatter & Crumble
- Tinctures & Gel Caps
- Balm, Cream, Patches and Face Masks
The list of options goes on and on. So while education is an obvious need for all those new cannabis users since legalization, grey-haired cannabis veterans like me need help too. So who you gonna call?
Budtenders! (Yes, that was a Ghostbusters reference)
Cannabis retailers, both the multi-state/province chains and the local entrepreneur with one store, are investing serious time and money in the training for their front-line staff. And the sales and marketing arms of licensed cannabis producers, and accessory manufacturers, are more than happy to contribute to the cause, hoping to leverage their product stories into real sales in-store.
Brands need to communicate a differentiated story to budtenders. It’s toughest when you’re talking about simple cannabis flower. What makes a particular branded flower different than the one offered by another LP? And it’s hard to separate one brand from another based upon just THC and/or CBD levels, or the desired experience. Those are category considerations, not branded ones. Any one particular brand/SKU is not likely to own the high THC or balanced THC/CBD sub-category, or the “I just want to chill” experience.
Packaging isn’t much of a contributing factor given that in many jurisdictions, the buyer can’t handle the package before purchase anyway. More often than not, the purchase decision is made based on what the budtender is likely to recommend, probably something based on personal experience or their knowledge of the products. Marketers need to hone their stories – what is it about my particular product that is different? Perhaps some combination of factors:
- Where it’s grown – inside, outside or greenhouse
- Who grows it – experience of the growers, their passions
- How it’s grown – in soil, hydroponic, organically
- The experience you can expect – soothing, chill, uplifting
- What it helps – anxiety, pain, sleeplessness
Value-add products are a bit easier to differentiate, given the opportunity to make the value add component and partnership part of the brand story. Adding how the unique design of the tea bag and the proprietary blend of tea leaves will enhance the cannabis-infused tea experience gives the budtender a story to tell their customer in-store. Keep the brand story simple and focused, and therefore easy for the budtenders to share.
People research online and we all have our go-to products, but a great percentage of buying decisions are made on the dispensary floor. Nothing can replace that in-store “discovery” experience, so give the budtender a differentiated story to tell. It enables them to demonstrate their knowledge and helps them open the minds (and wallets) of customers to new opportunities and experiences.