• Jeffrey Harris

How COVID-19 Has Changed Customer Behavior in the Cannabis Industry

As we are all aware, things have changed drastically over the last few months due to COVID-19. Even the simplest things such as eating inside a restaurant either aren’t possible anymore or are much harder to do.


As people have changed how they live their lives, their cannabis preferences have changed. This holds true as well for consumers within the cannabis industry.


Consumer behavior in both the medical and recreational marijuana industry is especially interesting to look at because unlike some industries, the cannabis industry has actually continued to grow during the pandemic, but that isn’t to say that this growth hasn’t been affected by the pandemic.


How has consumer behavior changed over the course of the pandemic? More importantly, what should you focus on in order to adapt to these new consumer preferences?


To begin, we will discuss how consumer product preferences have changed by looking at shifts in demand for both edibles and flowers. Following this, we will look at how the virus has changed how consumers purchase cannabis, placing an emphasis on e-commerce and cashless payment options.


Want to keep your dispensary on top during the pandemic? Then keep reading to find out what your dispensary should be focused on during COVID.


Changes in customer product preferences

Like we said, as the lives of consumers change, so do their preferences. Since COVID began, noticeable changes have been observed regarding consumer product preferences. Namely regarding edibles and flower.


Edibles

One of the biggest changes since COVID began, edibles have been flying off of the shelves of cannabis dispensaries. While we have noticed the increase in popularity of edibles even before the virus, the virus has caused shoppers to go all in on edibles and their popularity has skyrocketed.


According to Headset sales of edibles are up 28% from their precovid numbers. Some have speculated that because edibles are easier to share and consume without having to worry about smoking after somebody else, people have been consuming more edibles.


Especially in california, where edibles have experienced a 35% increase in sales since COVID, retailers need to be placing an emphasis on marketing edibles. One of the top selling edibles in California, Camino Wild-Cherry Gummies, experienced a 115% increase in daily sales over their pre-COVID numbers. Missing out on potential like this would be a shame.


With this, Headset has also reported that sales of pre-rolls have decreased significantly as passing around a joint with friends doesn’t necessarily sound like social distancing.


Flower

Another change that has been reported by Headset is that people have been buying flower in bulk. Similar to things like toilet paper, people are trying to limit how many trips they’re making to town which explains why they’re purchasing more cannabis in bulk.


According to Headset, the average daily sales of an ounce of cannabis have risen 41% across all US markets during COVID. With this, sales of 1g packages have decreased by 13%.

This trend was made especially apparent in Washington where according to Headset, where customers of Northwest Cannabis Solutions (NCS) were seen purchasing much more of NCS’s popular strain called “Hash Plant.” In fact, since the virus per ounce sales of this Hash Plant have increased by a whopping 233%.


Changes in how customers make purchases

With these changes in consumer product preferences have come changes in how consumers choose to purchase their cannabis products. Specifically, consumers have turned to ecommerce and have been demanding more options for cashless payment as a result of the virus.


Ecommerce

In the face of stay-at-home orders and the general consensus that we should all try to stay home when possible, cannabis consumers have begun to turn to ecommerce and other forms of online shopping to get their cannabis.


Before the virus, brick and mortar stores were generally more popular than online ecommerce sites. But since the virus, there has been a huge uptick in consumers opting to use ecommerce and online shopping to get their cannabis. With this has also come a rise in popularity of cannabis delivery.


Prior to the virus, much of this may have not been possible largely because some states were reluctant to allow cannabis delivery and online ordering. But, because of the virus and in order to abide by the social distancing norms, states that were once reluctant to do so have now given the green light on cannabis delivery and online ordering.


Cashless payment

With the increased use of e-commerce during the virus has also come a preference for cashless payment. This is likely part of an effort to limit contact during transactions.


Prior to the virus, many cannabis dispensaries still only accept cash payments, as regulations make it difficult for dispensaries to accept cards. As the pandemic dragged on, these dispensaries were forced to adapt so that they could finally accept cards and abide by contactless payment recommendations.


If your dispensary is struggling to provide channels for cashless payment, then let springbig help you! With our new platform Payments, you’ll finally be able to accept cash at your dispensary and track your financials. Click here to learn more.


How can you adapt?

While this list of changes in cannabis customer behavior is not exhaustive, it highlights the main areas in which dispensaries need to adapt. When it comes to the products your dispensary is carrying, clearly and emphasis should be put on edibles and bulk flowers.


Your marketing strategy should also reflect this change in inventory, with much more emphasis on edibles and bulk deals. A great way to do this is by offering specials on these two lines of products to increase sales even more.


The last area you should focus on adapting to meet the needs of the new COVID world is in your payment system. If your dispensary doesn’t have cashless payment capabilities, then now is the time to get it. Like we said above, springbig can help.


In all of this, it is more important that even to continue to promote brand loyalty via your dispensary’s loyalty program. Your loyalty members are your most valued customers, and at a time where a lot of shopping is being done online, it’s easy to lose them if they start to feel like another dispensary might value them more.


Recap


The cannabis industry is evolving rapidly, and this has only been sped up by the effects of the coronavirus. As consumers adapt to the virus, they have been purchasing more edibles and larger amounts of flowers. On top of this, consumers have also relied heavily on ecommerce and only forms of online shopping in order to purchase their cannabis products.


If you want to increase your dispensary’s sales despite the pandemic, then being mindful of these changes is key to doing so.


Want help navigating all of this and more, then click this link to see how springbig could help your dispensary grow!







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