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It’s easy to find yourself under the impression that marijuana sells itself: clad in fishnets, it stands on the corner of a busy intersection, coyly waving to anyone who slowly drives by. But, in reality, pot shops have to work to get customers. And then they have to work even harder to keep those customers from leaving and getting their cannabis elsewhere.
One of the biggest draws for customers is variety. As the industry blossoms, new ways to ingest cannabis come to light and shops focused on selling only flowers and little else risk their profit margins going up in smoke.
Is Flower Losing its Power?
People are using marijuana – in legal states and illegal states alike it’s a popular drug. But people aren’t smoking it as often as they once did; flower power is losing its edge.
According to Quartz magazine, flowers now account for less than 60 percent of sales in Washington state
Less than two years ago, they accounted for 75 percent of sales. The reasons for this are many. Some people don’t want to smoke, disliking the taste, the possible health effects, or the way it makes your throat feel as though you just swallowed a porcupine. Some like the discreetness alternative routes offer: sip on marijuana-infused coffee in public and no one will be the wiser; smoke a bowl in a Target bathroom and people will wonder if a skunk’s loose in the food court.
Others want the more powerful, longer-lasting high of edibles. Some people want lotions and topicals to soothe their achy muscles. And some who choose to smoke opt for dabs over anything else.
This isn’t the say that flowers aren’t necessary – they’re still a top seller – but it is to say that balance is key. Ideally, a dispensary should offer a wide range of flowers for those set in their ways or smokers uninterested in new innovations (as well as those who will ingest marijuana in and every way they can). And it should offer the latest in manufactured products, while keeping an eye on the trends. They’re ever-changing and that modernization is what many customers want.
A Note on Edibles
The market for edibles has undergone all sorts of changes in recent years. What was once an industry synonymous with pot brownies, cookies, and other sweets is now associated with health food too. There might not be a restaurant yet called Souper! Salad! Sativa!, but give it time: it’s coming.
As people become more cognizant about what they put into their bodies, pot shops that limit themselves to fatty or sugary foods will lose clientele. These days, the all hail kale movement is in full swing and dispensaries must adapt.
Another factor compounding this is the rise of women as pot consumers. According to Business Insider,
Aundre Speciale, the director of Cannabis Buyers Club Berkley, stated that upon opening in 2004, only around 10 percent of patients were women; today, it’s around 50 percent
Studies suggest that women are more likely to eat healthier than men. A study published in the research journal Appetite found that men are less likely to believe that fruits and vegetables are important to their diet while women are more likely to eat their greens in a quest for longevity and youthfulness. Women also go on more diets than men. Thus, a dispensary with a strong female clientele must adapt and change their edibles game.
Importance of Variety
While a good store sells a variety of product – patches, topicals, flowers, dabs, edibles, etc. – it also possesses a diverse portfolio of cannabinoids and strains. A shop that focuses on THC infused products and neglects CBD will miss out on a number of people hoping to use cannabis medicinally. A shop that focuses on selling Indica strains without much Sativa will lose people looking for a little get up and go before they have to get up and go to that super boring and ridiculously long timeshare presentation.
Variety is the spice of life and of marijuana commerce too.
But Don’t Forget Your Bread and Butter
A shop should certainly aim to offer all sorts of product for all sorts of people. But they should never forget about the bread and butter of weed. In other words, don’t dismiss best sellers: dispensaries should always have Blue Dream, for instance. It’s a widely-popular strain used for both recreational and medicinal purposes. It helps with menstrual cramps too; if your clients are women, maybe you’ll see an upswing in sales every twenty-eight to thirty days.
Another thing that should never be ignored is quality: consumers want it and are willing to pay for it
If your shop has all the variety in the world but your product is subpar, you’ll find yourself with a surplus: hopefully your grandma loves leftover marijuana, because that’s what she’s getting for her ninety-fifth birthday.
Many consumers, particularly long-time marijuana users and those knowledgeable about cannabis, will seek out quality more than anything else. But your prices do matter: you won’t keep customers if the shop down the street is selling the exact same thing at a third of the cost.
Don’t Overestimate Loyalty
When it comes down to it, a good dispensary works to stay good, continuing to offer a variety of quality products that their customers want (including “organic” lines – those are growing in demand more and more). And it doesn’t overestimate the loyalty of their patrons – younger people are less likely to be loyal to one shop than Baby Boomers (but younger people are more likely to be shoppers in the first place).
The diversity offered at your shop is only half the battle of the buds and bongs: exceptional customer service, budtenders, and marketing play a role as well. And, of course, so does location: it’s among the most important factors. In other words, good luck on that lifelong dream to open a dispensary in Salt Lake City or any other location where recreational marijuana isn’t likely anytime soon. Maybe don’t quit your day job just yet.