The budtender plays a critical role in the retail ecosystem. The very last line of defense representing your cannabis brand, and the very first gatekeeper to the magical legal cannabis product world for the consumer.
I’ve been asking some of the most respected budtenders in the industry, what sells? They’ve graciously offered advice to cannabis brands on what stands out among the competition, what consumers are asking for, what sells out, and how to make the most of the on-floor buying process.
I spoke with the esteemed Camran H. (aka Yung Slabby) of LAPGC in Los Angeles and Joey Estens, Sebastopol Product Coordinator at SPARC, about what they’ve learned from sales in 2022. To start, they need to be well-equipt. “For brands to stand out on the floor it takes a lot of staff education in my opinion,” says Estens. “Budtenders need sample’s, and education from the providers or their products will just sit. It’s hard for a budtender to explain a new product they know little about.”
- Convenience over everything
“As a budtender & product specialist at Los Angeles Patient’s Care Givers located in West Hollywood, and curated by our resident director Chelsea the products I have witnessed do best on the market this year have been ones that speak to the convenience of the consumer such as pre-rolls and edibles,” says Camran.
“One trend, in particular, I have noticed is a trend towards smaller dosing sizes and more volume specifically with these types of products: mini pre-rolls, and 5-milligram gummies versus 10,” he says.
- Natural is better
“Another rising trend I have been happy to see in the market is companies stepping towards using #solventless hash, made with natural methods of extraction to power their edibles rather than solvent-extracted concentrate like distillate,” says Camran.
“One of my favorite edible brands Space Gems led by founder Wendy has been providing connoisseur-crafted edibles of this nature to the industry since 2013, and we are just now seeing other companies finally take a hit of the wave.”
- Teach the consumer how to grow by offering clones
Esten says he’s excited about clone sales. “Backyard Boogie was super cool to me because they’re selling clones to dispensaries for customers to take home and grow themselves,” he says. “They grow their clones in soil cubes which I feel makes for heartier plants. They have strong genetics and the plants should be good for beginning home growers. It’s great to see a brand teach others how to grow their own while having easy instructions on how to do it. I’d like to see more clones in dispensaries and this brand seems to have a great ay forward for that.”
- Tell a strong narrative
“I see dried cannabis on both ends of the cultivation spectrum doing well,” says Camran, “especially boutique offerings with a strong narrative behind them and accurate genetics.”
- Fair price points rule
“The biggest takeaway I would have for brands on the market is to uniquely make an impression with consumers and to always be first to focus on making sure the quality of the offerings falls in line with the price point the end client will be receiving it at,” says Camran. “I personally believe it boils down for most consumers to the end price of the product needing to be reflective of the quality. Affordable offerings are moving in a larger volume.”
6. A package is worth 1,000 words
“My next piece of advice would be to build a brand and marketing ethos that organically and genuinely represents the product being sold,” says Camran. “As much information on what goes into the end product that can be given on the packaging in a clean and easy-to-digest fashion is critical in today’s market. The landscape is constantly shifting, so a focus on clear marketing and education is needed in order to make the consumer’s cannabis experiences memorable.”
7. Give back to the community when you can
Camran says the community is everything to LAPCG: “Getting involved in community gatherings and social events past the retail space for opportunities to showcase brands and offerings. I assist in curating events alongside a group of other talented individuals called Cannabis Culture Club. We collaborate with culinary creatives and cannabis brands to bring full-coursed pairings similar to a wine tasting where guests composed of industry contributors and influencers are able to try products from our represented brands in a fashion that has been cherished in private for many years. Containers like these can be an invaluable opportunity for brands further try to establish themselves with not only regular consumers but the right ones for their product.”
8. Infused pre-rolls are (still) in
“From what I can tell, the infused prerolls have had the fastest growth within the last year,” says Estens. “We used to only carry a couple infused pre-roll types and now we have over 15 different variations.”
9. Sativa to lift the spirits
“For flower, we always see many Sativa strains move fast, such as Red Congo, Durban, or Lamb’s Bread. Also the mid-priced indoor sells quite well. Brands like SOG Army which can have its eighths retail around the $45 mark, have helped other indoor growers drop their prices to compete.”
10. Show off the bud
“Flower brands really need to let the cannabis be visible in the jar,” says Estens. “If a customer can’t even see the bud, it’s a super hard sell. Another note is trying to give a brand personality, almost all smaller brands promote being small batch and artisanal, but I like seeing a brand create its own identity.” SPARC has 3 dispensaries in Sonoma County and 2 in the Bay Area.