The CRITICAL Reason That Every Cannabis Business NEEDS A Merchandise Line

January 29, 2020
Posted in Marketing
January 29, 2020 alex

Branded merchandise is the key to turning budtenders into brand ambassadors.

Regardless of what side of the cannabis industry you’re on, developing branded merchandise is critical. Why? Because in a saturated and competitive marketplace, merch is often the difference between success and failure. And while T-shirts and hats are perfect giveaways that make customers walking billboards, that’s not what makes merchandise critical. Like everything else in cannabis, it comes down to the budtenders. Here’s why:

Budtenders are the lynchpin of the cannabis industry.

90% of the interaction customers have in a dispensary is with the budtenders. A good budtender listens to the wants and needs of the customer and recommends relevant products. Customers that aren’t motivated solely by price and are more interested in the experience of the dispensary will engage with the budtenders and listen to their advice. These are the ideal customers for cannabis brands as they are more likely to be loyal to a specific brand.

Let’s say a customer visits a dispensary and tells the budtender they are looking for a good chocolate edible to relax in the evening. The budtender has 3-4 brands that make similar products with similar dosages, all that are a good fit for the needs of the customer. Who do you think the budtender will recommend first? They’ll recommend the brand that they like. 

We’re not saying that if you give a budtender a t-shirt he or she will all of the sudden recommend you to their customers. But if you are consistently engaging with the budtenders each time you drop off a product order, and providing them something of value with each visit, over time you can generate the goodwill that makes them more likely to recommend your products to customers.

If budtenders love your business, they can help it thrive. If they don’t, they can contribute to its demise.

A t-shirt with a simple logo on it will not do the trick. If you’re a newer business and haven’t established a strong brand yet, then a basic logo’d t-shirt will hold no value to the budtender. The merchandise needs to be thoughtfully designed and wearable. Think about it like this: the budtenders must want to wear it even if your businesses’ name or logo isn’t on it. This is the distinction between giveaway swag and merchandise or apparel that has value. 

We point to our work with Lightshade as a great example of this distinction. We have been designing and creating their apparel line for several years, and recently released their fall/winter line. You can take a look here:
https://lightshade.shop/collections/night-and-day

For this specific collection we collaborated with renown artist Adam Vicarel of Vicarel Studios to create designs with a unique look. They are clearly much more than just the Lightshade logo on a t-shirt. Whether it’s the hoodie, women’s long sleeve marble sweater, or baseball tee, these pieces have value. They aren’t a giveaway, they are a gift. 

So when your sales or delivery staff drop off that product order, they should be giving something valuable to the budtenders every time. Not only that, they can further engage the budtenders by asking what else your business can provide to make their job easier or better, and then delivering on that promise. Maybe it’s lanyards for their ID or name tags, or a new tip-box that can be branded with your logo.

Merchandise can help turn budtenders into your evangelists.

At Hybrid, we not only create the designs that our clients use for their merchandise lines, we actually manage the entire process from inception to delivery. That’s because we hold an ASI  license, (Advertising Specialty Industry) and so are able to cut out the middleman that most businesses need to go through for merchandise products. We can create a superior product at a lower price while removing the headache for our clients. 

Employ a merchandise to give your cannabis business a boost. If you don’t have one yet, now is the time to start planning. Get in touch with us so we can tell you more about the process.