Cannabis producers, edibles makers, vape companies and other suppliers seeking to make their products stand out on marijuana retailers’ shelves often turn to pop-up displays within stores.
Creating a pop-up—or temporarily setting up a sales outlet inside a marijuana retailer—gives product suppliers a way to build brand loyalty by dealing directly with customers.
From a product supplier’s standpoint, the benefits of pop-ups include:
- Introducing new products and explaining their features to customers.
- Promoting sales by offering in-store specials and discounts.
- Educating retail staffers on how to talk about their products.
Pop-ups are important because they give a supplier the opportunity to speak directly to its target audience, said Jessica Kaiser, founder of Denver-based Canna Demos, which has conducted more than 2,200 product demonstrations for a variety of cannabis brands.
“When done correctly, (pop-ups) can create brand loyalty and build trust,” Kaiser said. “Having a brand provide a value directly to potential and current customers in the form of education, a discount or even a good conversation can open up lines of communication. If someone has a question or problem with a product and feels comfortable communicating with a manufacturer, this can lead to lifelong brand loyalty.”
Canna Demos collects data that helps the supplier determine the best days, times and locations for events in relation to brand and product type. The data also helps the company get a better idea of who its target audience is and where to find those consumers.
In researching a suitable venue, Canna Demos assigns each retailer a value based on branding, the location of the pop-up space and the staff’s willingness to learn about a particular product and provide feedback. Canna Demos looks at the demographics of a store’s customers and what brings them in the door. The company also collects information about the number of people who come into the store, how much they buy and the prices of staple items on the shelves.
When conducting in-store promotions on behalf of a brand, Canna Demos’ ambassadors answer customers’ questions and try to steer them toward the products appropriate for their needs.
“People don’t just want to hear why they should buy something,” Kaiser said. “They need to know that the product will solve a problem for them. The seller must find out what that problem is through conversation, as cannabis is not a one-size-fits-all.”
Denver-based Sweet Grass, a maker of cannabis-infused baked goods, times its pop-ups to coincide with the promotions it lines up each calendar year, scheduling the events at stores that get the most foot traffic. During its pop-ups, the company typically offers customers a form of “buy one, get one” (BOGO) promotion in which the second item costs $1 or is sold for 50% off the regular price.
Sweet Grass pop-ups are designed both to promote the products and educate staff and consumers.
“Budtender advice has such a huge impact on consumer choice while they’re in the store,” Sweet Grass Marketing Director Jesse Burns said.
Sweet Grass, which hosts more than 500 in-store events annually, also books pop-ups around events such as concerts, which drive traffic into local marijuana retailers.
Denver-based edibles maker Coda Signature sends trained brand ambassadors to its retail partners for between 15 and 25 pop-up events each week. Pop-ups typically last about three hours. The brand ambassador sets up a table and offers swag such as T-shirts, beanies and stickers to customers as they enter the store in addition to a discount on its products. In California, where Coda Signature recently hired several brand ambassadors, the company provides samples of non-infused products and stickers.
“It gives the consumer the ability to talk to a brand ambassador who knows more than what a budtender would know,” Coda Signature CEO Mark Grindeland said. “They ask about testing and ingredients—and the consumer will get some sort of coupon that will give a discount to try our product.”
After the event, Coda Signature looks at how many customer interactions its ambassadors had and the number of people who purchased one of its products.
“We look at the economics of the event,” Grindeland said. “We want to know that not only has our dispensary partner made money but that we’re doing it in a way that makes sense for Coda Signature.”
The company also does extensive budtender training that includes how the products are made and key selling points, including the quality of ingredients, recipes and the company’s focus on extracting its own oils. In addition, Coda Signature focuses on dosages and consistency. The company reviews frequently asked questions and how the budtenders should be answering them.
“We’re trying to get the voice of the customer and the voice of the dispensary and every way they interact,” said Marji Chimes, Coda Signature’s chief marketing officer.
Retailers Also Benefit
Cannabis product suppliers aren’t the only ones that benefit from pop-ups.
Retailers are rewarded by manufacturers who educate store employees about their products. Lee, Massachusetts-based Canna Provisions spends considerable time training employees about the products it sells and educating consumers through the iPads provided at each sales station. The iPads feature how-to videos that show customers how to use different products such as vaporizers and dab rigs. The iPads offer additional web-based product information from the brands and suppliers.
The store also welcomes brand ambassadors to set up a display on-site and speak directly with customers.
“The manufacturers are going to have a lot more breadth of experience and anecdotes to draw from,” Canna Provisions Chief Operating Officer Erik Williams said.
On Fridays, Canna Provisions hosts “industry mornings” for retail and restaurant professionals who are served breakfast and receive unmedicated chair massages from a therapist who regularly uses the Nordic Goddess line of CBD-infused balms in her practice. The therapist also educates other massage therapists on how she uses the balms.
Similarly, the store reaches out to physical therapists and physicians, providing informational materials as well as attending or sponsoring events where medical professionals are in attendance.
“A brand we were passionate about is now being produced in Massachusetts, and we know how effective this product is, so we can share the information with wellness professionals with confidence and passion,” Canna Provisions CEO Meg Sanders said. “Through pop-up education, we’re able to get good information to health-care and wellness professionals about specific products.”