Starting a Canadian cannabis storefront is an enormous undertaking and one that isn’t guaranteed success even in a burgeoning national and global market. With a global pandemic changing the way we conduct business and potentially continuing to impact industry growth, many brands are asking how they build resilience to stay relevant, connect, and resonate with consumers.
The brand building process is more than logos, colours, and interior design elements. It’s the careful planning and defining of identity that not only sets your retail experience apart from the next, but also effectively conveys your brand experience message—one that compels customers to action and drives sales.
Public perception of a brand is determined by both visibility and reputation. How consumers see your brand offering is based on how they have evaluated their experience and interactions with your brand. Plus, in a digital age, the art of telling the truth for brands has never been more important, as consumer trust will directly impact your bottom line and is a key pillar for increasing loyalty.
Transparency is how open and trustworthy a company or brand appears and is often a motivating factor for how consumers choose who to give their business to. With the trend towards health and wellness, as well as growing concerns for sustainability, green products, and product clarity, brands need to ensure not only their words meet their actions, but also that they are providing as many detailed insights about their products as possible, so consumers feel they know it all when it comes to what they’re buying.
Simply put, the more brands are willing to share, the more transparent they are perceived to be. Transparency is interlinked with creating a genuine experience for consumers, often being the result of creating an authentic brand experience.
An important component of the cannabis journey for consumers is the story behind the brand and products.
Selling good cannabis isn’t enough. An important component of the cannabis journey for consumers is the story behind the brand and products—where the cannabis was grown, how the brand originated, and what farming practices were used, for example. These stories make for a richer brand experience where consumers feel they know your brand like a friend.
Because brands can’t be everything to everyone, it’s important to find your niche to ensure you’re marketing and speaking to the people you want to connect with. One Canadian retailer that has successfully defined its niche and been able to attract its ideal customer to build a strong brand is Culture Rising.
In the case of Culture Rising, transitioning an established brand into a cannabis retailer came with its challenges, but after finding products that appealed to a specialized market, specifically artisan glass bongs and pipes, they’ve been able to create a unique product for customers that is high-quality at an affordable price.
Why Intentions are Important
Keeping your brand’s purpose and intentions front and centre with a solid mission statement or message is a critical part of building a reliable and trusted brand image.
One such retailer is Farmer Jane, created by two friends who have successfully built a brand with a feminine touch while staying true to their message. Their Saskatchewan roots and values are deeply ingrained into the brand to create a space that makes people feel comfortable and welcome, and without stress or pressure, as part of a commitment to creating a positive impact on the communities in which they operate.
Explicitly showcasing your purpose through every facet of your business helps reinforce your core values and turn consumers into a community that advocates for the brand they love.
Using Education to Engage Consumers
For cannabis retailers, offering accessible and shareable resources is a great way to equip consumers with the confidence they need to get the most out of their cannabis experience. By sharing their knowledge with customers, whether through budtenders or other kinds of shareable content, retailers can connect with their target audience and provide value that goes beyond the sale of a product and develops trust to build lasting connection and loyalty.
As the demand for more brand knowledge grows, so does the consumer’s need for informative content. Yes, creating content can be time-consuming but it’s something retailers can benefit from, especially when it comes to novice consumers. Your brand’s message needs clarity to resonate with the conscientious consumer, with many storefronts still not taking advantage of its benefits. A simple process with a high return, a strong content strategy adds value to the community and lives of consumers, which sets you apart in a saturated market. Easy to understand blog posts or even pamphlets can give consumers the vocabulary and background knowledge to know exactly what they’re getting when they purchase their cannabis at your store.
Fostering a brand community goes beyond a good retail experience. If successful, the people who follow your brand journey have connected with you and they’re not merely engaged, they’re emotionally invested.
Fostering a brand community goes beyond a good retail experience.
A good example of this is Calgary’s Lake City Cannabis, a family-owned store that has used its passion for the industry and community to become valued members of the community. Interlinked to their success has been their ability to put together an accessible leadership team and offer educational programs to customers to build that trust and following.
Members of your community are an invaluable asset because they can guide business decisions like inventory selection, location, and even promotions, and help build brand credibility through genuine word-of-mouth testimonials.
What each successful brand has in common is a strong community that has customers who have engaged and stayed with their brand because in every interaction they find the values that mean the most to them—trust, authenticity, knowledge, and purpose.