With apologies to that super tired real estate nugget (location, location, location!), when it comes to retail, especially in the increasingly competitive cannabis market, similar logic applies.
It’s no secret what successful retail strategies are all about: attraction, conversion, and retention. But with all due respect to the first two – attraction and conversion – it’s critical for today’s cannabis brands to understand that the last one – retention – will make you or break you.
All too often, most businesses spend too much time, energy, and money looking for new customers when the real money comes from cultivating repeat customers.
The only thing better than a happy new customer is a returning customer who refers many more new customers to your product or brand.
But how do today’s budding, expanding, and more established cannabis brands “engage and keep happy” would-be recurring customers?
Just like the methods for production, testing, and dosage are becoming more sophisticated, so are today’s measurement tools, POS technology, and referral and loyalty programs.
According to The Hybrid Creative’s Brian Applegarth, who has passionately followed the ongoing evolution of cannabis from basement bong sessions to microdose soccer mom dinner dates, the future of cannabis retail strategy lies at the intersection of experiential engagement and point-of-purchase technology.
“Converting new customers into repeat customers is not just about making your brand part of the identity of the consumer,” Brian says. “You have to control and support the customer journey from start to finish. And then do it all over again. And again, and yet again.”
Brian adds: “What I’m seeing in the field right now is the activation of ‘street teams’ that are out there communicating the culture of brands in a very overt way. Businesses are regenerating past guerrilla marketing tactics to keep customers engaged in the face of this heavily regulated marketing landscape.”
Not only do repeat customers result in greater ROI, they cost as much as 25x less to engage and keep happy.
Yes. It may start with finding, activating, and converting new customers, But it ends with reselling those customers again and again, until they become loyalists, and finally brand advocates.
“Brand advocates” may sound wonky, but these customers are your best lead generators. They organically introduce your brand to their friends, family members, co-workers, and even strangers to rave about your brand as far as their social networks extend, including online. And it’s all gratis!
Ultimately, building your brand to increase retention is the future of cannabis retail. That means devoting time and money to cultivating brand loyalty. And to do so, you need to invest in the tools, expertise, and CRM (that’s Customer Relationship Management) systems you need to build a sustainable business, especially, as Brian noted, if that means literally taking it to the streets.
Are you ready to take your retail and retention strategy to the next level? We can help.
Contributor: Brian Applegarth, Key Account Manager and living legend at The Hybrid Creative.