Dispensary tips

Dispensary marketing 101: the 4 Ps of 420

By
Dutchie
April 4, 2022

If you’re running a dispensary, you have the power to generate up to four times your daily revenue on 420.

Luckily, there are a handful of marketing strategies to help you get there—from launching 420-specific campaigns to sponsoring events and offering discounts and promotions. Some retailers choose to focus on attracting and retaining new customers; while others seize the opportunity to sell underperforming products at a discount, so they can re-stock with luxury brands.

Regardless of your goal for this year’s 420, some good ol’ fashioned marketing will be central to your success. Enter: the 4 Ps (AKA the “marketing mix”).

If you’re an experienced marketer working for a cannabis retailer, the 4 Ps of marketing might strike you as a bit of a throwback from your college days. But for those of us who work in cannabis and didn’t study marketing, it’s possible you’re seeing this phrase for the first time.

So, if you’re ready for a crash course in marketing, keep reading—class is now in session.

What are the 4 Ps?

The 4 Ps of marketing are product, price, promotion, and place; all of which are key factors involved in marketing any product or service. Also referred to as the “marketing mix”, the 4 Ps are meant to guide you in your journey of marketing, promoting, advertising, and positioning your brand. When used strategically, they’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to best market your dispensary.

One way to get started with the 4 Ps is to re-imagine them as questions, and then answer them. Answering these questions will encourage you to think more strategically about how best to reach your customers and drive sales. For example, you might ask yourself:

  • Product: Does my product (or inventory) meet my customers’ needs?
  • Price: What is the value of my inventory? What deals and discounts can I offer?
  • Promotion: How can I differentiate my dispensary from my competitors’?
  • Place: Where are consumers looking for products, and how can I reach them?

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

1. Product

Why it’s important to your dispensary: you need a well-stocked inventory for your customers

Stocking your inventory with tried-and-true favorites is a must on 420. One way to get a pulse on consumption trends is to research the products that have been consistently popular over the past year. This is where historical data comes into play. If you’re a Dutchie customer, LeafLogix by Dutchie data, Greenbits by Dutchie data, and/or Dutchie Ecommerce Analytics will be your best friends. These insights don’t just show you what sells and what doesn’t—they also highlight peak sales times, so you know when you expect (and prepare for) increased foot traffic.

Still, keep in mind that inventory is a balancing act—you’ll also want to make sure you’re up-to-speed on what’s trending. Take edibles, for example. The edibles craze is in full-swing, having become extremely popular with new consumers. Cannabis-infused beverages are also gaining traction, likely due to their overall subtlety and perception as being “socially adaptable”. Infused liquid products, like tinctures, are also tempting because they kick in much faster. The speed of absorption is appealing to consumers because they don’t have to wait for their bodies to metabolize the THC.

Researching these trends—along with relying on your store’s historical data—will ensure you have an appealing selection of products for customers to choose from. 

Remember: variety is the spice of life.

2. Price

Why it’s important for 420: the increased interest in cannabis is a perfect opportunity to significantly boost your sales volume

Pricing is one of the most powerful components of a successful retail operation. But when it comes to your dispensary’s marketing strategy, the process isn’t as straightforward as you might think (and it’s especially tough on the first-time retailer). We know that only a small portion of dispensary owners have a retail background, so let’s break it down—starting with pricing discounts

The complexities of retail pricing

At first glance, retail pricing seems like simple math. You purchase some volume of wholesale goods—in this case, flower, edibles, or other cannabis products—for a certain cost. You then add a comfortable margin and sell it at retail shops for a higher price. The margin becomes your profit. Everyone’s happy.

In reality, things aren’t so simple. As a retailer, here are a couple of nuances to take into consideration:

Regulation:

  • Cannabis is a highly regulated industry, with high taxes to boot. Many dispensaries choose to support these costs by passing them on to their customers via retail prices.
  • Certain items can’t be sold below their wholesale cost in several states. In this case, pricing discounts may have to begin at the vendor level, since the retail price cannot be reduced.

Packaging:

  • The proper packaging can create a memorable experience for your customers—but it comes at a cost. If you decide to go this route, don’t forget to factor the additional labor and production costs into your pricing strategy.
  • Depending on your state, you may be required to adhere to local regulations outlining specific packaging requirements. This commonly includes things like weighing (and sealing) flower and childproofing, which can add up. Check your state’s regulations regarding packaging to ensure your dispensary remains compliant.

Deals, discounts, and specials, oh my: identifying your ultimate objective to determine pricing strategy

Unfortunately, you won’t see tangible results just from lowering your product prices. Identifying your goal for 420 will help you decide which products to discount, how steep you should discount, and how your brand should communicate that discount to your customers. 

Here are five popular 420 goals for retailers—and the role pricing plays in each:

1. If your goal is to drive off-peak order volume

While it’s extremely likely you’ll have a steady flow of foot traffic on 420, you can also leverage timed promotions to accelerate if necessary. Digital inventory solutions will let you automate price changes according to the time of day, incentivizing customers to come in during off-peak hours.

2. If your goal is to minimize inventory loss:

This is a popular goal for stores that sell perishable items, and, unfortunately, cannabis falls under this umbrella. Dry cannabis will expire, so you may want to sell old stock at a steep discount to avoid writing off expired surplus inventory as a loss. This sales tactic can also benefit your inventory management operations.

3. If your goal is to promote new products or partnerships:

Discounts are a great way to introduce new products to existing customers. If you’re about to start carrying a new product, you can use a one-time discount to highlight the item or line, generate consumer interest, and begin to establish a loyal customer base.

4. If your goal is to increase conversion and retention:

Discounts have the power to convince on-the-fence shoppers that your store is the place to be on 420. In the cannabis industry, the likelihood that you’re carrying the same products as your competitors is high. That being said, discounting can give you the lowest-price advantage for that specific product—and convert the price-conscious consumer.

5. If your goal is to increase basket sizes:

Some discount initiatives can help convince customers to add more products to their shopping carts with every order. Increasing the average transaction size will boost the revenue of every transaction. Depending on the regulations in your state, you might also want to give out complimentary swag and other accessories that reward customers for shopping at your store.

TL;DR: Coupons, discounts, and offers are powerful psychological motivators and effective pricing strategies that drive shoppers to strike while the iron is hot.

3. Promotion

Why it’s important for 420: when you’re competing for sales in a saturated cannabis market, you need to convince shoppers that your dispensary is the place to be.

Marketing in the cannabis industry is a notoriously complex challenge. All legal cannabis states have different laws regulating dispensary messaging and channels, most of which are highly restrictive. Canada’s laws are even stricter. But even without the ability to advertise in most public spaces or promote products using mass media (unless it’s verifiably adult-oriented, like in California), dispensaries still have options.

How consumers choose their go-to a dispensary

Cannabis consumers are clear about the factors they consider the most important when it comes to choosing one dispensary over another. Dutchie surveyed hundreds of cannabis consumers across the US, and we were surprised to discover that the deciding factors for medical and recreational use were essentially the same: product quality and product selection/variety.

Let’s look into the specifics of each factor and how it affects consumers’ dispensary choices.

1. Product quality

If a consumer has to choose between two dispensaries that are roughly an equal distance away, the one with better quality cannabis products will usually earn the sale. However, defining quality can be challenging.

While many consumers struggle to identify what makes a certain product their favorite, they’re crystal clear on what makes a bad product—such as dry, stemmy, or seedy flower; or relatively low levels of THC or CBD.

Stocking your shelves with quality flower, vaporizers, edibles (and more) delivers a high-value shopping experience, increasing the likelihood of word-of-mouth promotion within your community. This means your customers are doing the marketing for you!

2. Product selection/variety

While stocking quality bud is a sure-fire strategy for the dispensary owner, variety is equally as important. Many consumers enjoy experimenting with new and different strains.

Newbies in particular take more time to find a strain and delivery method that works for them. For a dispensary with a large variety of products, this means a single consumer is likely to make dozens of purchases before landing on their product of choice.

Having a wide selection encourages this behavior and gives budtenders ample opportunity to engage consumers on a regular basis. It’s through this “testing phase” that budtenders can guide consumers on their journey to finding their perfect high, while capitalizing on the additional up-selling and cross-selling opportunities presented.


4. Place

Why it’s important for 420: more and more consumers are searching (and shopping) online—and you need to position your brand accordingly.

In cannabis, (e)commerce is king

Ecommerce has become an indispensable part of the global retail framework. Mainstream marketing studies expect online retail sales in the US to reach nearly $600 billion by 2024. This growth is affecting cannabis retailers in particular, who began to rely heavily on ecommerce and POS technology to support customer safety and social distancing during the height of COVID-19.

If you aren’t convinced, check out these statistics from the State of the Cannabis Industry regarding the explosion of online sales in 2020:

  • Between March 16th-April 24th, dispensaries with order ahead capabilities sold 22% more on average compared to those without.
  • During the same time period, online ordering drove an 8% increase in transactions and a 13% increase in average basket size.

Dispensaries with online ordering capabilities continued to outperform those without, even as the market stabilized. For example—on April 2, 2020, average daily recreational sales were 27% higher for dispensaries with order-ahead in Colorado, and 18% higher for those in California.

As we emerge from the pandemic, the value of online ordering lies in its overall convenience—so if your dispensary lacks an online presence and ecommerce capabilities, you’re behind the eight-ball. To avoid the risk of subpar sales and decreased foot traffic in your store on 420, you have to be all-in on digital. 

How to optimize for SEO with a custom subdomain for your menu

What are subdomains?

A subdomain is simply another part of your website that’s dedicated to a specific function or purpose. For example, while most domain names are written as dispensary.com, subdomains have a prefix that sends the user to a different destination; i.e. 420.dispensary.com

Marketing-savvy retailers can create holiday-specific subdomains. Here’s how to create and embed them in 3 steps with Dutchie Ecommerce:

  1. Create your subdomain and don’t forget to give it a relevant title (eg. 420.dispensary.com).
  2. Use pre-built or Custom Homepage Carousels and stack them full of the products that you want to highlight for 420.
  3. Embed the custom code onto your subdomain website and then simply add holiday-themed site content that will help boost your SEO score.

Want Dutchie to create the subdomain for you? Upon request, Ecommerce customers can ask for custom subdomains when they need them for specific holidays with ample notice.

If you’re ready to take your store’s SEO to the max, consider full custom menus like Dutchie Ecommerce Plus. One of our users revealed how he customized his site even further to include upselling and cross-selling. Discover more about The House of Cannabis and their experience developing a site on Ecommerce Plus for added sales functionality.

The bottom line

Marketing in cannabis focuses on the consumer’s wants and needs, discounting appropriately, and going digital in all aspects of your online sales. The 4 Ps of marketing—product, price, promotion, and place—can help you determine how to run holiday sales and which products will receive the most hype from your consumers. 

Download our The Ultimate 420 Survival Guide for even more tips

If you’re a dispensary owner or manager, you know how important 420 is to your retail sales. But are you prepared to identify and take action on the steps required to make the most of it? If not, there’s no shame in your game—Dutchie has your back.

In our Ultimate 420 Survival Guide for Cannabis Retailers, we cover everything you’ll need for a successful day of retail sales, including:

  • Finding your in-store aesthetic: layouts and floor plans that keep customers happy, plus eye-catching merchandising
  • Your ideal tech stack: mission-critical tools you’ll need to satisfy demand, track inventory, power sales, and stay compliant
  • Staffing: how to communicate with, train, and support your team leading up to (and during) the big day
  • Post-holiday sales performance: how to review and analyze consumption trends and sales performance—and plan for next year

Get the guide ->

About the author
Dutchie
The Dutchie Squad