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By Mike Kennedy, Atomic20
Everybody must get stoned. Okay, so Bob Dylan was actually referring to the heartbreak of relationships in this song, not our fair state of Colorado since the legalization of marijuana in 2012. But after you take a look at the numbers you’ll likely agree that “never gonna be the same again” is a fitting Dylan lyric to describe Colorado’s current cannabis culture. That includes, perhaps most significantly, the legal bud marketplace.
A recent study prepared for the Colorado Department of Revenue painted a telling picture of marijuana usage in the state. One surprising figure is that only 9% of the population consumes cannabis in some shape or form. But it’s the flipside of that statistic that makes Colorado, and other states like it, such a tantalizing opportunity for budding marijuana businesses. While Colorado has less than 500,000 cannabis users, those users do so at extremely high rates, to the tune of more than 120 metric tons annually.
Assuming the cannabis industry is here to stay, that begs the question: who is positioning themselves to reap the benefits of this legion of dedicated cannabis users? The answer: those who understand that the legal marijuana business is just that, a business. A key to long-term, sustained success in any business is creating brand loyalty. And, as of now, we know that Colorado marijuana consumers who shop retail have yet to develop any.
This isn’t lost on us at Atomic20. We’re a creative agency that specializes in market strategy and design for marijuana companies. We recently commissioned an independent study of cannabis users with the help of consumer research expert Koert Bakker. The findings paint a clear picture of the current consumer landscape…
- Less than half, or 42%, of frequent marijuana shoppers have a regular store they visit.
- Only 18% of casual/occasional shoppers favor any given store.
- 67% of occasional buyers are still learning what they like and rely on a friend or budtender to influence what they buy.
Bottom line: There is a lot of market share to be had with nearly 80% of occasional buyers and 60% of frequent shoppers still up for grabs.
So how do you go about capturing the frequent and occasional buyer, and then convert them into lifelong brand loyalists? Obviously, there’s no simple answer to that question. But here are few things to keep in mind:
- Competitive pricing: Don’t kid yourself. Price supersedes just about any other factor in most buying decisions. Offering daily promotions and periodic sales is enticing to any marijuana user.
- High quality: For pot smokers, this is one factor that can take precedence over price. If they find a strain they like, they will search it out and buy it again and again. Developing proprietary strains is one way to give a retail shop its own unique identity.
- Market expertise: You have to have a clear understanding of what your customers want. Merchandise your shop in a logical way. Determine which edibles sell and only carry those.
- Strong social media presence: Having great product at excellent prices means nothing if consumers don’t know about you. In the medical marijuana industry, social media has become an effective way of reaching out to patients. For example, having a Facebook page gives you a way to stay in touch with customers on a daily basis.
- Knowledgeable and friendly customer service: This sounds easy enough, but you’d be surprised how many pot businesses fall short. Do the basics. Make sure the waiting area is clean and has comfortable seating. Offer pre-rolls that are rolled professionally. And, of course, know your product inside out.
This is a defining moment in the emerging Colorado marijuana industry. The consumer base is still anyone’s for the taking. So, even if everybody isn’t getting stoned, there’s no denying that the times they have a-changed, and the cannabis business is ripe for the picking.
Mike Kennedy is a staff writer for Atomic20 (A20) – Atomic20, a Sponsoring level member of NCIA since August 2014, is a full-service marketing agency and shared creative workspace in Boulder, Colorado. In mid-2014, A20 assembled a qualified team of MJ marketers and research experts to serve the rapidly growing needs of the cannabis industry. With a local network of 85 top designers, developers and researchers, A20 has the ability to curate the perfect team for its clients with a focus on dispensaries and MJ brands.