As you’re starting to develop a marketing plan for your store, you’ll need to manoeuver your way around marketing and advertising rules and restrictions at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels. At the time of writing, those rules are still being written and they will evolve over time, so how can licenced retailers be innovative in their marketing?
Senses Working Overtime
There are some obvious trends that have been emerging within the industry. The most obvious ones to a marketer are the retail experience, the rise of health and wellness, brand ambassadors, and the pet era. Come the end of this summer, the retail experience is going be a key factor in success for shops moving forward.
Appealing to all five senses is going to be a touchstone of marketing for any licensed retailer. At Aura, for example, upon entering the shop, it’s quickly noticeable that the overall look and feel of our member area is vastly different than what you may have seen elsewhere in Vancouver’s many dispensaries. All of our flower strains are on the shelf for members to handle and experience how they feel, customers can view them through a microlens for a new visual perspective on the product, and are even able to smell each strain’s aroma through their chambers. We have samples and testers for all of our topicals and tinctures, so that every member knows exactly what they are getting prior to purchasing. It’s then all down to adding and creating value past the point of purchase that aims to bring members back through the doors.
Adding Value to the Cannabis Experience
Adding value allows a lot of flexibility for marketers. It means that you can further underline what your brand values are, and embody them by demonstrating how cannabis can be a part of other activities and elements of everyday life. For example, Aura looks to do this through programs, such as our partnership with a company called Flower & Freedom, which aims to empower healthy lifestyles through the exploration of cannabis.
Appealing to all five senses is going to be a touchstone of marketing.
We host monthly fitness classes, both in-house as well as out in the community, which are free for all of our members to attend. The classes usually start with a short 10-15 minute educational chat that discusses the best ways to incorporate cannabis use into personal wellness and an active lifestyle. We also look to bring onboard brand ambassadors as we continue to build out our team. By partnering with yoga practitioners, counsellors, nutritionists, and fitness instructors, we are able to get our message out through their own social networks and channels.
Community will be Key
Building a sense of community will be very important for retailers. When talking to medicinal cannabis users, there’s a sense of “togetherness”, and this will surely cross over to recreational users as people find use for the different products that will be hitting the market. For example, cannabis therapy for pets holds huge potential. As part of its next phase of development, Aura’s brand ambassador program will see a team of dog walkers who will be out in communities to represent us, handing out samples of dog treats and some of our pet product offerings.
As companies join the rush to obtain licenses to legally sell product across the country, establishing yourself as an educational resource about the benefits of cannabis is a great way to start to build a solid framework to succeed when legalization happens.
Ryan Hirsch is Marketing Manager at Aura Cannabis, a medical marijuana producer and distributor based in Vancouver.
Editor’s Note: Marketing rules will be dictated by the federal government and each province, so the ideas expressed in this article may not be legal for your store. Each store owner must be diligent in following the laws related to cannabis marketing.