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  • Jeffrey Harris

Text Message Marketing Is a Cannabis Dispensary’s Direct Line to Generation Z

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

Generation Z is the first to grow up during an era of legalized and, more importantly, normalized cannabis use. While only a small fraction of them are old enough to engage with the market, reports already suggest that they will be twice as likely as other Americans to use cannabis. This makes Gen Z a key, growing market for cannabis companies – and SMS marketing is a fast, easy, affordable, and effective way to reach them. Lucky for your dispensary marketing strategy, SMS marketing is also their preferred mode of communication.


Born between 1996 and 2015, most Gen Z are still minors but even teens and young adults have demonstrated considerable knowledge of cannabis use. They are on the cusp of passing Millennials as the largest generation in history. Gen Z seems to operate with some fundamental attitudes: expressing individual truth, being radically inclusive, understanding different perspectives, and living pragmatically. When it comes to cannabis brand loyalty, they are all about purpose and authenticity rather than hype.


Not Quite Legal

The legal age to purchase cannabis in America is 21, which means only the oldest two years of Gen Z have engaged with the regulated market. However, the numbers are growing exponentially. According to Bloomberg, in the first few months of 2018, Gen Z represented just 1% of cannabis sales; by April 2019, that number had tripled. As more Gen Z kids reach the age of consumption, that statistic will naturally increase every year.


In a recent article, Headset reported that convenience is most important to Gen Z cannabis buyers which is reflected in the fact that they purchase more pre-rolls than any of the other generations. They also purchase more concentrates than Boomers, Gen Xers, or Millennials. Our own research supports this data, showing that Gen Z purchases more than double the number of concentrates as Millennials and more than triple the amount as Gen X and Baby Boomers. When looking at the generation’s purchasing power, data suggests that – as we would suspect given their age – Gen Z spends the least amount on cannabis, with a $13.63 average item price.


Digital Natives

Gen Z is in an especially unique consumer demographic. Along with being the first generation to grow up during normalized cannabis use, they are also the first generation to grow up with smartphones and completely dependent on them in their day-to-day lives. It’s not surprising to learn that over half of Gen Z uses their smartphone more than 5 hours a day and over a quarter uses their phone for more than 10 hours per day.


More importantly, almost 100% of Gen Z owns a smartphone, with 52% reporting that it’s their most important internet device. In fact, 45% of Gen Z say they are on their phone “almost constantly” and 61.8% say they would rather leave their wallet at home instead of their phone! When it comes to texting, 57% of Gen Z uses messaging apps at least half the time they are on their smartphones. Much like Millennials, 75% say they prefer texting over talking on the phone.


Dispensary SMS Marketing for Gen Z

Given these facts, it’s clear that SMS marketing is the most effective way for dispensary marketing teams to reach the rapidly growing Gen Z cannabis market. With a 98% open rate and a 90-second response rate, SMS marketing is a proven, effective way to grab their attention where they spend the most time.


Dispensary SMS campaigns also help dispensary marketing teams circumvent two key compliance issues around federal marketing regulations that bar cannabis companies from advertising publicly in order to protect minors and other vulnerable populations. Making SMS marketing the focal point of your dispensary marketing strategy allows messaging to get directly to adult consumers. Additionally, regulations also mandate that consumers must opt-in to receive cannabis advertising. So be sure to use cannabis texting software that makes it easy for them to do so.


The current Gen Z cannabis market is just a tip of the generational iceberg. That market will grow significantly every year for many years to come. With 83% of Gen Z wanting more businesses to communicate with them via text and over half of Gen Z living on their smartphones more than five hours per day, they are the perfect audience for SMS dispensary marketing campaigns.