Online sales for cannabis products have risen nearly 20% since December according to a report by Maru/Blue, commissioned by Figr Brands. A resounding 43% of Canadian cannabis consumers prefer to buy their cannabis online, rather than in-store, up from 13.3% in December 2019.
Despite many provinces still unsure about allowing private retailers to sell their wares online, and some even rolling back regulations, consumers have shown that they desperately want the option, especially in the new age of pandemics and social distancing.
“The shift to shopping for cannabis online has undoubtedly been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes to the retail environment,” says Harvey Carroll, president & CEO of Figr Brands. “As an industry, we’ve had to diversify how we deliver products into the hands of consumers and they’ve had to adapt too.”
Many customers, including those in sensitive populations who may not want to leave their homes during a pandemic, prefer the convenience of shopping online and having their purchases delivered to their doorstep within days, or even hours of purchase.
Does that mean this trend will continue?
According to Carroll, it’s hard to say. “It could be an indication that Canadians are feeling more knowledgeable when it comes to picking the right products and feeling more comfortable to do so from home.”
35% of consumers still preferred a conversation in-store
Budtenders still have an important role though. According to the report, 35% of consumers still preferred a conversation in-store with their local budtender. However, there are a lot of people going online for information—22% to be exact.
“A lot has changed over the last few months, but what hasn’t is the need for consumer education,” says Zack Grossman, vice-president, marketing of Figr Brands. “Budtenders continue to be a significant resource for consumers, but with an increased preference for online shopping, we have to ensure consumers have access to information through other channels too.”
Providing educational content in exchange for getting your target’s eyes on your brand is a time tested technique, often referred to as content marketing. Educating customers can help them make a more confident purchasing decision, as seen by the steady climb in sales both online and in-store.
Are online sales going to take a bigger slice of the pie in the future? It seems only logical that in the information age, cannabis should be like any other product that can be ordered and delivered, like groceries or a pizza. If regulators, retailers, and consumer education can catch up with each other, online sales could be just the thing to not only provide more convenient access to legal cannabis, but also normalize cannabis use and make it just another consumer product.