With cannabis approaching legality in almost 50% of the U.S., retailers, brands, and anyone who deals in producing or selling cannabis for medical or recreational consumption now must step up their marketing and not only focus on the products they are selling, but who they are selling them to.

Many more options to safely consume cannabis exist today as compared to a decade ago. Cannabis consumers have the choice of not only the traditional inhalation methods of flower, but vape carts, edibles, tinctures, concentrates are much more widely available.

This diversification of cannabis consumption methods, paired with the expansion of strains and new delivery methods, has sparked unique preferences and profiles of buyers that previously haven’t existed at this scale.

Based on our analysis of over thousands of cannabis transactions from various cannabis retailers, we’ve put together five examples of cannabis buyer profiles that dispensaries, recreational stores, brands, and even producers, should know and understand.

Profile #1: The Newbie

“The Newbie” buyer is someone who is relatively new to consuming marijuana. They may have tried it in the past, but due to legalities, they never were able to procure reliable, safe cannabis. Now that cannabis is legal in their state or city, they’ve decided to give cannabis another try.

“The Newbie” isn’t too much in tune with the modern cannabis culture. Their perspectives and attitudes toward cannabis might be outdated, and based on what they have seen on mainstream media. Familiarity with joints with apparatus like bongs and pipes are within their comfort zone. Edibles, concentrates, and vape carts are uncharted territory, and fear of the unknown is a dismotivator to expanding their palette to new consumption methods.

“The Newbie” needs more attention and education. From an online experience, resources like basic guides to indica versus sativa, the importance of terpenes and cannabinoids, and even a guided strain finder to help them find a product that fits their needs are all ways to help guide this buyer in their journey and make them feel more comfortable.

In-store, “The Newbie” relies heavily on a budtender to help them make their selections. They may feel apprehensive on the first visit. Creating a welcoming environment for “The Newbie”, all the way from your branding to in-store experience is a must to attract and train this type of buyer.

Profile #2: The Connoisseur

“The Connoisseur” only wants the best. This buyer is likely someone who has been using cannabis for much longer compared to “The Newbie”. Over time, “The Connoisseur” has had the opportunity to develop their own preferences to cannabis, whether it is sativas, indicas, or hybrids.

“The Connoisseur” also knows how to decipher cannabinoid and terpene profiles, or at the very least, what role they play in the experience of consuming cannabis. They have preferred tastes, and oftentimes lean toward strains or products that fit their criteria of taste, smell, and quality of the high. In short, “The Connoisseur” knows what they want, and more importantly, what they don’t want.

The frequency of consumption of cannabis is also relatively higher than the other buyer profiles. From a marketing perspective, a well-designed loyalty program can be very effective at retaining this type of buyer. Proceed with caution, however, as this type of buyer has specific preferences. Using historical purchase data to drive your promotions and new product recommendations are the key to not turning them off with your follow-up marketing.

Cannabis brands who are targeting “The Connoisseur” profile should always prioritize quality first, since this buyer is attracted to luxury brands. Furthermore, “The Connoisseur” may even initiate their searches for cannabis products based on specific brands or strains, and will use tools like Leafly or Weedmaps to locate a store where their preferred brands and products are sold. 

Brands and producers should aim to have a store locator on their websites to make sure “The Connoisseur” knows where to buy your products. Cannabis retailers and dispensaries should ensure that their online ordering systems are set up to easily filter by brand, so those who know exactly what they are looking for can get there easily.

Profile #3: The Explorer

“The Explorer” is a bit like “The Connoisseur” in the sense that they have a defined set of preferences when it comes to choosing strains or products. This subset of customers is also well-educated. The main differentiator of the Explorer is they are more open to trying new things.

“The Explorer” is more likely to switch between sativa and indica strains. They’re always looking for what’s “new”. In addition, “The Explorer” will also switch between different types of cannabis products. Some days joints are what does it for them, other days they may roll a blunt. Weekends might be for edibles, and Sundays are for concentrates. When they’re out in public, vape carts are their solutions. Modalities may change, but quality paired with novelty is what drives “The Explorer”.

Marketing to “The Explorer” is all about showing them what’s new and popular. “The Explorer” responds well to daily follow up campaigns or rotating specials in-house, but keep in mind that quality is still important to them. 

From a retailer’s perspective, “The Explorer” can be a very loyal customer. Since they tend to be less brand-loyal than “The Connoisseur” it can be relatively easier to keep this customer coming back to your specific store. Always make sure to capture this buyer profile’s information, and get in front of them frequently on all your digital channels (for example: SMS, Social, and Email) so they don’t lose interest.

From a brand and producer’s point of view, “The Explorer” will be more likely to do business with you if you process a variety of products outside of just flower. If flower is your primary product category, consider expanding your processing to include edibles, concentrates, and vape carts. Look for opportunities with your local competition to produce higher quality and better branded products, and you’ll win the business of “The Explorer”.

Profile #4: The Weekender

“The Weekender” is the cannabis consumer that consumes cannabis socially, or on the weekends. The experience level of “The Weekender” may vary, but what defines this buyer profile is mostly the frequency of consumption.

“The Weekender” demographics typically skew toward middle- and working-class individuals with disposable income. Cannabis is seen as more of a casual release from the day-to-day stresses of life. Many parents also fall under this category.

Because “The Weekender” is more of an occasional consumer, daily text and email blasts might annoy this buyer. Retailers that are employing daily follow-ups as a marketing strategy should rethink their approach to marketing to this type of consumer. One way to avoid turning “The Weekender” off with your follow-up marketing is to segment your email and text blasts based on buying frequency or by building individual segments based on those who purchase at certain times of the week. 

Cannabis producers and cultivators should pay special attention to their packaging when thinking about marketing to “The Weekender”. Walking into a retail cannabis store nowadays can be an overwhelming experience for a novice, and for someone who has limited experience with cannabis your packaging needs to speak to them right when they walk in the door. 

Profile #5: The Patient

“The Patient” buyer profile is defined by their possession of a medical marijuana card. Medical marijuana patients have drastically different needs than those who are seeking cannabis for recreational usage. “The Patient” is purchasing cannabis to treat a medical condition or ailment, and as such, the way you market to them should be a little more educational and authoritative.

For cannabis retailers, all the budtenders on your staff that are servicing “The Patient” should be well-educated in the common medical reasons that people use cannabis. Budtenders should be trained in the differences between the major cannabinoids, and how THC, cannabinoids, and terpenes all play a role in helping relieve specific ailments.

Oftentimes “The Patient” will need higher concentrated cannabis like wax and RSO, so offering the glassware needed to consume this type of medical cannabis not only helps your bottom line, but adds convenience for the buyer.

Offering delivery is also another way to attract and retain “The Patient” consumers (as long as it is legal in your state) as many of those, especially patients in severe pain or with terminal illnesses, might not be able to make a trip to your store.

Cultivators and producers should focus on quality, and diversifying their offerings by including concentrates or high CBD strains. We’ve seen many producers continue to leverage flashy branding on medical marijuana products, but tread lightly as it may turn some people off, especially those who are using medical marijuana only because they have to, and not because it gets them high.

Wrapping It All Up

These are just a few of the major buyer profiles that we’ve surmised after analyzing thousands of cannabis transactions both on the medical and recreational side. Depending on how long recreational cannabis has been legal in your area, you may have even more specific buyer profiles to target. Some of your buyers might even be a combination of the five profiles listed above.

When it comes to marketing, we believe that if you try to speak to everyone, you end up appealing to no one. You should leverage these buyer profiles to help you improve your marketing efforts, make decisions on what products to carry and/or manufacture, and manage your inventory accordingly to ensure that your cannabis business is giving your target customers exactly what they are looking for.

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