The Massachusetts adult-use cannabis market used to feel like the wild, wild west. It was a race to see who could open their doors first, and once those doors were open, it was like striking gold. Lines formed around the block to buy legal weed, and dispensaries were making money hand over fist. But that frontier isn’t just closing, it’s closed.
With more and more dispensaries opening and with Massachusetts boasting the highest cost of marijuana in the US, customers have high expectations of their local establishment.
Sales are up, but so are the number of dispensaries
The adult use cannabis market in MA has made $1.47 billion in sales since retailers opened in 2018. 2021 sales make up about $311 million of that, with over $24 million spent in the first week of April. If trends continue, cannabis sales will reach over a billion dollars in this year alone. Many business owners see these numbers and think that they’ll be printing money once their doors are open. But as sales increase, so does the competition for customers.
Data Source: Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission
The days of having only one dispensary in the area are over, and the novelty of buying legal weed is wearing off. Experience matters. It’s a retail industry after all! It’s time for dispensaries to invest in customer retention. With discounts and promotions illegal in the adult-use Massachusetts market, a cohesive and approachable brand is paramount. The more touch points, the better. Retail strategy and customer engagement cannot be afterthoughts. They need to be incorporated seamlessly into every aspect of the business, from the marketing plan to the store design to the products offered.
Retail marijuana products have opened up a host of new consumption methods, from topicals to concentrates and even cannabis seltzer. With such strong sales numbers, it begs the question… What are people actually buying?
Click to enlarge chart. Data Source: Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission
Good ol’ fashioned flower is still the king of sales, making up almost half of sales from the first week of April. Vapes, prerolls, and edibles are still holding a solid share of the market, too. Sales of the more newer items like concentrates (shatter or wax) and infused beverages haven’t been quite as strong. Since most consumers are leaning towards the familiar, dispensaries need to educate their customers on these new products in order for these products to be purchased.
With an average dispensary’s inventory ranging from 100 – 300 different products, a common mistake is to overfill retail displays. It’s messy, overwhelming, and quite frankly, a lazy sales tactic. The eye can’t focus when bombarded with branded products everywhere, especially when those products are new or unfamiliar. Things get lost in a sea of noise. Less. Is. More.
If flower is the best seller, show it off! Our favorite example of who’s doing it right is Serra in Portland, Oregon. Each strain of flower has its own clean box, allowing the customer to take time with the product and discover what works best for them.
The fastest growing sales demographics may surprise you.
It’s not all college kids and artists. The new retail market has opened up new key demographics. Seniors over the age of 65 and women are the fastest growing national markets, with plenty of celebrity endorsements to prove it. Jimmy Buffet has a line of cannabis vape cartridges called Coral Reefer (A Liz Woodward pick of the week!). Martha Stewart debuted a line of CBD products last year. Gweneth Paltrow has invested in a host of cannabis companies. Even Chelsea Handler and Whoopie Goldberg have gotten in on the game.
Despite this, most Massachusetts companies seem to mostly cater to a young male audience. This oversight has not been terribly consequential to sales as of yet, likely because both seniors and women are used to buying products without marketing that speaks directly to them. But as more dispensaries open, the need to cater to new audiences is going to grow.
So who’s doing it right?
As a team of very opinionated women, we’re currently crushing on Farnsworth Fine Cannabis in Great Barrington. Their apothecary-inspired retail design is stunning, with a corresponding website that incorporates aspects of the interior design throughout.
SERRA, PORTLAND, OREGON
Purveyors of Quality Drugs since 2016, Serra exists to transform the way people look at cannabis through carefully crafted experiences, uncompromising products and inspired partnerships — all tailored to our sophisticated customers’ comforts and curiosities. Learn more
A GOLDEN STATE, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
Highest quality flower grown from Shasta snowmelt for recreation and relaxation. Learn more
VP, Director of Operations