Budtenders hold key insight into how brands can effectively capitalize on the retail experience. More than simply witnessing trends, they are communicating with consumers daily to inform, educate, and most important, impact what is going into their carts.
That’s why we’ve asked experienced sales associates across the country on what is selling best on the dispensary floor. In this new series, expect actionable advice from budtenders on topics including the highest-performing product SKUs, what strains of flower are selling out first, and how to best represent your brand in-store.
First up: four-year veteran industry salesman and budtender Steven Cortez of Catalyst Bellflower offers ten tips to brands on how to stand out among the competition.
- Edible creativity: “Edibles have reached a point where consumers are really eager to grab at something creative and out of the ordinary,” Cortez says. Headset’s recent data report on edibles supports his observations, showing a wider differentiation of brand types over the last year. “Hate to say it but chocolates no longer seem to pique the consumer’s interest quite like a bag of Chili Limon corn chips from Tsumo Brands or grabbing a Hash infused Michelada cup.
- Make way for drinkables: “THC-infused beverages/ mocktails have really garnered a strong interest, especially at check out when they see the beverage fridge. I believe as consumers begin to experiment more with cannabis and begin to use less alcohol, this category has a massive upside especially as smoke lounges begin to open. I do feel a cannabis-infused sports drink should be considered.”
- Roll it up: Pre-rolls are crushing it at Catalyst. “I am constantly in shock of how dominant this category continues to be,” Cortez says. “We constantly see people choose to overlook well-priced, economical eighths to opt for a ready-to-smoke pre-roll or pack. The need for instantaneous convenience seems to always be a major driving factor.”
- And infuse it: Infused pre-rolls are having a good year. Data shows no category has grown has fast as pre-rolls. The category has even taken the number two spot from vapes in Canada this year. “Whether it be infused or non-infused, a well-priced pre-roll between $5-$12 can really set your brand apart.” He says the pre-roll category can help a brand gain a foothold because a pre-roll is “a great first introduction for a consumer who may be on the fence about your brand.
5. Accessibility is king: Which types of flower are selling best, from Cortez’s point of view? “Flower that is affordably priced between $20-$35 an eighth,” he says. Catalyst operates 14 storefronts across the state. Its ideology centers on consumers and affordable access, coining the phrase and hashtag #WeedForThePeople. Cortez sees success from brands aligned with the Catalyst ethos.
6. Diversify strains to keep the customer engaged: Unique, limited drops are a great way to engage your consumer base. What brand is doing this particularly well at his shop? “Coastal Sun Farms out of Santa Cruz,” says Cortez. “They grow a wide range of sustainable, classic, old school strains as well as bringing new age strains such as their recent drop of Gelonade and Tropaya! This enables Coastal Sun to keep the consumer engaged with constant new strain drops and flavors which I believe has really amassed them a huge following.”
7. Run a special: Meet consumers where they’re at by adjusting your prices to offer sales incentives. One focused special/sales push can convert a consumer for life. “This year Catalyst had an insane partnership with Alien Labs & Connected where we had a long stretch of deals: every day, all products would be 25% off, Munchie Monday all Alien Labs edibles were 40% off, and on top shelf Tuesday all Connected & Alien Labs flower were 40% off and finally on Sundays all Vape carts were 40% off! It was great to see consumers who don’t usually have the opportunity to purchase Connected/Alien Labs products be able to try them at a very reasonable price tag of $37 for eighth.”
8. Brand ambassadors are your friend: “My biggest advice for brands who want to stand out to consumers would be to hire a knowledgeable, passionate Brand Ambassador with strong interpersonal skills,” says Cortez. “So many times I see brands make the mistake of hiring the wrong type of person with the wrong type of energy who struggle to engage with consumers. I’ve seen first-hand what the power of a strong Brand Ambassador can have on a brand’s ability to garner popularity amongst budtenders/dispensary managers as well as the everyday consumer. You can bet almost every time the consumer was greeted with enthusiasm or met with an engaging question, the consumer almost always walked into the bud room to inquire about the brand/and or product being marketed.”
9. Partner long-term with a store: Catalyst sees brands’ greatest success often through consistent and long-term partnerships. “We currently have an ongoing partnership with Coastal where consumers receive 25% off Coastal Sun flower every Sunday,” says Cortez. This reliable partnership helps to brings in a committed, cult-like following. “Consumers leave paying $15 for their eighth, tax included.”
10. Engage the community: Catalyst is known for putting its community in the forefront of its cannabis retail experience. The company gives back with Catalyst Cares, and even throws events and block parties monthly to uplift and spotlight brands. Take a cue from the store and seek out ways to become a part of its community outreach.