We had specific questions about cannabis consumer behavior and preferences. Instead of speculating, we asked them! In separate surveys over recent months, we reached out to the cannabis community directly and learned a lot. Here’s what you need to know.
Changing Feelings about Cash
When we did our initial outreach in February, consumer feedback was that 71% of respondents typically used cash to purchase cannabis with 55% of consumers saying that they preferred to pay with cash given the choice of all options. Many indicated that they chose cash to avoid paying convenience fees on other payment methods.
We reached out to consumers again in May and found that already consumer behavior had shifted due to the pandemic. There was a 10% decrease in people preferring to pay in cash, with 45% of respondents reporting that they had changed their payment preferences due to COVID-19. Even before the increased public health concerns from COVID-19, cash was known to be a breeding ground for germs. With consumers now aware of the potential health risks of using cash, many are opting for electronic and contactless options instead.
Cash will never disappear as a payment method for cannabis. Even as preferences change and dispensaries start offering cleaner and safer options, some consumers will continue to opt for cash. Instead of fighting consumer behavior, we suggest working with it. Offer electronic payment options and highlight the contactless way to pay – it’s particularly effective for customers shopping online for pickup or delivery purchases. Meanwhile, be sure to reassure your cash customers about the ways you’re working to keep them safe.
Need a cashless, contactless payment method for cannabis?
How Often Do Consumers Shop at Dispensaries?
Every state has different rules about how much product consumers can buy, how often they can shop, and what combination of products can be purchased in a specific time period. However, even within these rules, the data shows a trend that may be surprising.
According to the survey, most people shop for cannabis 1-3 times per month, with the next most common purchasing frequency being 1-3 times per week. This makes cannabis purchasing more like picking up a recurring prescription than going for a weekly grocery shopping trip.
As a result, cannabis merchants should be aware that their promotions could be most effective if run for at least a week at a time. While running daily specials can drive customers to purchase specific products or brands, most of your consumers may not even see those options unless they happen to make their purchase on that specific day of the week.
Which Dispensary Promos Are Best?
Speaking of promotions, we assumed that everyone likes getting something for free. However, we were surprised to find out just how little consumers cared about cash. The majority of cannabis consumers prefer free product or discounts on their purchases, with only a small percentage saying that they would like a cash promo.
Not only do consumers have these strong preferences, but 78% said that they would change dispensaries based on promotions. It’s intriguing to see that cannabis consumers aren’t swayed by cash as a promotion and are instead influenced by the cash that they will have to pay when purchasing cannabis. With minimal shopping loyalty, this highlights the importance of offering your customers the best promotion at your dispensary.
We know that it can be complicated to offer free product or discounts, particularly depending on the rules in your state. However, we have run a variety of successful promos with our partners and are happy to share some ideas with you.
As recreational and medical marijuana become normalized across the US, consumers will continue to solidify their preferences and behaviors. It’s vital to have insight into what people think, feel, and do, instead of simply jumping to conclusions or assumptions. We’re proud to conduct this market research and will continue to share the results of our regular outreach with the rest of the cannabis community.