Everyone wants to grab a piece of the cannabis industry, which means tons of dispensaries are popping up across the nation. However, there are also brands and products galore–from cannabis beverages to marijuana mints to cannabis-infused cuisine. And although the industry is still considered young, it can be a challenge to get your cannabis products onto dispensary shelves.
According to Leafly, people spend $25 billion (about $77 per person in the US) annually on cannabis products, which places it right behind beer, wine, and nutritional supplements. But not every cannabis brand makes it into the best dispensaries. So, if you’re a cannabis business looking to occupy some dispensary shelf real estate, we have some helpful tips for you. Creating an incredible cannabis brand or product is only half the battle. If you can’t reel in the attention of retailers and prove to them that your brand is worthy of their shop, you’ll lose out on expanding your reach. Check out our essential tips on how to get your products into cannabis dispensaries.
Captivating Cannabis Product Backstory
The narrative behind your cannabis product is paramount. Cannabis dispensaries want to carry merchandise that people want. Remember that people don’t just buy a product—they buy the potential of a better version of themselves. Take the time to analyze your cannabis business and product backstory. Here are a few questions to help guide you toward a worthy product backstory: Does it feel organic? Is it unique and captivating? Does it present a narrative that your target audience wants to be a part of? One important thing to keep in mind when putting together your backstory for your proposal is that your product will have a better chance of earning dispensary shelf real estate if it fulfills a currently unmet need.
Product details are great, and it’s important that you include them, but don’t lean solely on details. Instead, place those details within context of what’s at stake and show that you intimately understand the target audience’s situation. Describe why your cannabis product is the right solution for the job and what pain points it addresses. It can be challenging to craft a compelling product backstory. So, write a draft, test it out on your colleagues, analyze and edit, and then keep editing until you get it right. When it comes to selling cannabis products to dispensaries, a product backstory and brand narrative are critical.
Make Sure Your Product is Compliant
Laws and regulations for cannabis products vary from state to state. Compliance is huge in the cannabis industry, so make sure your product meets all requirements before you try to sell it to any cannabis dispensary. No dispensary will risk putting your product on their shelf if it doesn’t meet your state’s testing and quality standards. Leafly put together a state-by-state guide to cannabis testing regulations, which is a good place to start.
In addition to the cannabis product being compliant, your packaging and labeling for it must also adhere to the rules set forth by your state. For example, the packaging requirements in California require that cannabis goods need to be in packaging that is child-resistant, tamper-resistant, resealable, and opaque. Triple check that your cannabis product is compliant with all your state’s rules and regulations before reaching out to any dispensaries.
Cannabis Dispensary Connections
Yes, you can approach the product manager/cannabis buyer directly if you feel confident in your pitch. However, you may also want to consider working with an outside expert or someone who has dispensary connections. If you find someone who has long-standing relationships with cannabis retailers in your area, arrangements to distribute your cannabis products can be executed much easier. Therefore, it is imperative that you show up at events like MJ Unpacked, connect with individuals on cannabis business forums, and stay active in the comment section of cannabis social media business accounts. The more seeds you plant, the better your chances are to partner with someone who has the right connections.
The role of the cannabis dispensary product manager is a challenging one. They will often want to work with a distribution partner who has vetted the cannabis products. Therefore, targeting or pitching to distribution partners may be an easier path to getting your cannabis products into dispensaries.
Cannabis Product Samples
Once up on a time, people would buy cannabis regardless of price or quality. Those days are long gone. The industry continues to grow, and new, innovative cannabis products are entering the market every day. Nothing says you’re confident in your product than giving out samples of it. Also, it is in the product manager’s best interest to test cannabis goods first. Of course, your product needs to be compliant for consumer use before you give out samples to dispensaries.
Before you send a sample to a dispensary, learn about their current inventory. Why would your product help the dispensary become a more well-rounded cannabis shop? Answer that question thoroughly and succinctly and provide the narrative of your product and brand. Additionally, include what pain points your product addresses. The dispensary’s reputation is on the line. Therefore, providing a sample and the information they need is a big plus. Alleviate the unknowns for them and earn their trust.
Packaging & Branding That Conveys Your Brand Narrative
We all know that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. However, when it comes to products, your packaging and branding should be just as good as your merchandise. After all, it’s the first thing the customer—and the product manager/dispensary owner—sees. Before trying to sell your cannabis product to a dispensary, ensure the packaging communicates the brand narrative well. The look, the feel, and the copy should all help craft your brand story.
Analyze the packaging and branding of some of the popular brands in cannabis, including Kiva Brands and Lowell Herb Co. What does the branding and packaging communicate about these cannabis businesses before you use their product? Then, take a look at the packaging and branding of your product, and analyze what it conveys. Additionally, you’ll want to see how others perceive your product through its packaging. It should address the right target audience and convey the theme of your brand story. And to reiterate, make sure your packaging is compliant with state regulations.
Improve Your Social Media Reach
If your product isn’t in other cannabis dispensaries, it can be more of a challenge to get someone to trust your brand. One of the ways to present yourself as a trustworthy brand is to have a strong online presence. Your website and social media handles have the potential to attract plenty of eyes. So, focus on showcasing your product online and building a strong following before selling your brand to a cannabis dispensary.
Tell a compelling brand story that your target audience can relate to, build trust through educating your audience about the benefits of your product, and interact with them online. You can also optimize your site and social media accounts to grow your audience with a trusted marketing agency. Every cannabis brand approaches social media differently, but keep in mind that it’s about building a community that stays with you because of the value you provide. Dispensary owners and product managers will definitely do research and analyze your online presence. Ideally, by the time you reach out and sell your cannabis product, they will already have heard of it online.
Here are three basic ways to grow your social media channels:
- Search for niche groups on various platforms (LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook, etc.) and stay active in the ones where your target audience hangs out
- Post consistently and with purpose
- Collaborate with influencers
What NOT to Do When Pitching Your Cannabis Products
Here is a list of what not to do when trying to find your product/brand a home at a cannabis dispensary:
- Do not try to pitch cannabis products to dispensaries in another state.
- Avoid trying to wholesale cannabis products without the proper licensing.
- Avoid showing up to a cannabis dispensary without a meeting.
- Do not ignore the hierarchy or executive chain of command.
- Do not pitch products with incorrect labeling.