• Jeffrey Harris

How to Build Dispensary Brand Loyalty During COVID-19

In this period of rapidly changing retail trends and practices, ingenuity is required to reach and retain loyal cannabis customers. We’ve previously mentioned thoughtful ways to increase customer engagement, but how can dispensaries adjust their loyalty programs to keep customers interested throughout the health crisis and beyond? Below are three ways to boost dispensary brand loyalty by making loyalty programs more valuable to returning customers.


Encourage Customer Participation

One way retailers can show customers that they value their business is by keeping them active and involved with the loyalty program. Dispensaries should take advantage of this period when more customers are likely working from home or sheltering in place by asking them to participate in product and store reviews for bonus rewards. For example, retailers can offer customers a small amount of loyalty points for every purchase review or a chance to win a $100 store gift card for every store review on Leafly or Weedmaps. Taking these measures pays off in two ways: returning customers can apply these rewards to future purchases and potential new customers may be more attracted to the dispensary after reading reviews. The latter situation is critical in this era of social distancing when new customers are unlikely or unable to physically visit dispensaries and depend on online reviews to make purchasing decisions. Authentic product and store reviews are also smart cannabis brand marketing tools for retailers aiming to push cannabis products.

Start a Referral Program

Another way to boost customer loyalty participation is by ramping up referral programs. Referral programs with the right rewards will benefit returning customers, new customers, and the dispensary itself. This dispensary marketing strategy is an organic way to harness the power of existing customers to drum up new business opportunities. After all, individuals are far more receptive to recommendations that come from close friends than marketing messages from unfamiliar brands. Dispensaries aiming to incentivize established customers to refer more friends can launch a month-long referral competition that rewards the top three customers who refer the most number of people with store gift cards or exclusive gifts. Retailers can also take a tiered approach to the referral competition by offering a 15% purchase discount for every 5 friends referred and a 20% discount for every 20 friends referred. Don’t forget to also reward new customers for their patronage with exclusive loyalty discounts and gifts.


Finally, retailers can thank returning customers for just being part of the program by offering loyalty anniversary promotions and rewards. Dispensaries can text customers on the anniversary of the day they joined the store’s loyalty program with a coupon or offer a gift with purchase. Retailers that utilize this strategy will show customers that their loyalty and patronage matters and can incentivize more customers to spend outside of big shopping holidays.


Offer Extensions on Loyalty Points and Rewards

This current period of heightened uncertainty often translates to more customers being more conservative with their spending or unwilling to leave their homes to buy cannabis products. Dispensaries that have existing policies where loyalty points are only good for a certain period of time can extend the validity of those rewards. This understanding gesture has already been taken on by many airlines and travel companies and can also apply to the cannabis industry, where many customers prefer an in-person purchasing experience. Taking this step ultimately sends a message to the customer that the retailer understands the challenges customers are currently facing and will be ready and waiting for them when they’re prepared to return.


Promote Accessible Products

In a similar vein, retailers should take a look at their internal POS systems to see which products are performing better or worse during the pandemic. Many dispensaries around the country are currently experiencing diminishing demand in luxury or higher-priced products due to economic uncertainty and they must accommodate these shifting demands. Dispensaries that are still offering daily deals or promotions on certain cannabis products should only promote items that customers want to buy and offer bonus rewards for them. For example, if a retailer notices a recent spike in sales for pre-rolls at lower price points, they can offer a buy five get one free deal on these prerolls or offer double rewards in each purchase to encourage a higher volume in sales. Similarly, if dispensaries notice a drop off in vape demand but an increase in demand for edibles, they can cycle in more edibles promotions during their daily deals campaigns.


Retailers that make these cannabis product marketing decisions can show customers that they are in tune with customer preferences and may be able to better push cannabis brands and products in the long-run. Building a lasting loyalty program often depends on establishing a relationship of mutual understanding and trust between the retailer and customer. Taking these steps will show customers that their patronage, preferences and opinions matter and will ensure that they will be plugged into a retailer’s loyalty program even after the pandemic subsides.


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