• Jeffrey Harris

4/20 Still Dominates as the Leading Industry Retail Holiday -- How Can Dispensaries Adapt Their Mark

Cannabis industry culture has evolved in several innovative and diverse ways in recent years, but nothing still quite defines its essence like 4/20. While the origins of the famed holiday for cannabis enthusiasts are widely contested, what remains certain is 4/20’s steady clout in the retail space. According to springbig data collected from client sales leading up to and during 4/20 last year, dispensaries made upwards of $7.3 million in sales and welcomed 107,491 visits on the actual holiday. These staggering figures show the importance of building a well thought out 4/20 dispensary marketing plan to attract new customers ahead of the biggest day of the year in the industry. Considering how this year’s 4/20 falls on a Monday during an unprecedented health crisis, retailers should proactively structure their promotions to boost sales while ensuring the health and safety of their customers. Dispensaries are still considered essential businesses in many states, and cannabis dispensaries around the country should rise to the challenge this year and find creative ways to serve customers in their time of need.


4/20 can be one of the most critical days of the year to solidify dispensary brand loyalty for cannabis businesses. In 2019, sales jumped by approximately 197% from $2,471,420 on March 20 to $7,33,210 a month later. Visits also soared by approximately 127% from 47,329 visits on March 20 to 107,491 visits by April 20. It’s clear that loyal customers are ready and willing to spend on 4/20, but how can retailers adapt their businesses to meet customer demand amidst social distancing guidelines? For starters, dispensaries operating in states that allow cannabis e-commerce should encourage online ordering or delivery to the best of their abilities. Although dispensaries depend on high foot traffic to drive sales over 4/20, having a crowded store may be unwise or even illegal this year. Retailers can still incentivize customers to stay home without hurting their bottom lines by offering free delivery, bonus loyalty points or exclusive gifts for 4/20 online orders. Dispensaries that are not legally permitted to deliver should implement a well-organized curbside pickup system that allows repeat customers to have easy access to their favorite products. It’s also important for dispensaries to fully integrate their rewards programs with their store websites to make the shopping and redemption experience as seamless as possible.


Additionally, e-commerce platforms are ideal places to run last-minute marketing campaigns pushing add-on products and encourage milestone spending during 4/20. Retailers trying to figure out how to push cannabis products can take advantage of the weekend leading up to 4/20 by extending promotions or offering new product deals every day over the long weekend. For example, Friday can have exclusive deals on pre-rolls, Saturday can be dedicated to flower deals, Sunday can offer edibles promotions and Monday can promote store-wide discounts on all products. Last year, customers spent an average of $68 on 4/20, approximately a 30% increase in spending compared to customer baskets that averaged $52 a month earlier. Dispensaries can implement attractive tiered promotions using dispensary loyalty program software such as spend $50 for a 15% discount, spend $75 for a 20% discount and spend over $100 for a 20% discount plus a free gift bag filled with attractive products. To up the ante, retailers can pull sales information from their POS systems and send personalized promotions to their biggest known spenders and offer even bigger rewards for spending $420 on a single purchase. Dispensaries should have a desirable selection of add-on products appropriate for each price point to help customers reach their respective milestone spending goals. Although customers may not be able to shop in-store this year, this doesn’t mean dispensaries should lose their human touch. Retailers should make budtenders easily available to customers via phone or live chat on the store website.


4/20 is also a great time to encourage customers to redeem their loyalty points. In 2019, cannabis loyalty program redemptions jumped by almost 62% from 2,648 redemptions on March 20 to 4,287 redemptions on April 20. Dispensaries should curate a selection of loyalty rewards that are exclusive to the holiday weekend and encourage customers to redeem them with any purchase. This cannabis product marketing strategy works both for in-store and online transactions. Retailers utilizing e-commerce platforms should promote these attractive redemption deals clearly on the store’s landing page, social media, and any other digital advertising channels at their disposal. and dispensaries welcoming in-store shoppers should have signs in the windows or outside the retail facility to promote their selections while customers are waiting in line at a safe distance.


Although there are several disruptions to everyday communications at the moment, people are still on their phones and eager to connect with the outside world. Cannabis marketers can still engage with customers over SMS and communicate 4/20 promotions over text. In fact, dispensaries sent 1,345,922 text messages on 4/20 last year to drive more than $7.3 million in sales. Given the extenuating circumstances this year, dispensaries should be mindful of the tone of their messages and include information on measures the facility is taking to ensure a safe shopping experience for customers and employees.


Cannabis brands and Dispensaries can maintain strong sales momentum during 4/20 this year despite business and travel restrictions. As long as cannabis retailers are permitted to keep operating, businesses should find safe and creative ways to reach customers that wish to partake in the holiday in a responsible and socially distanced manner.


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