The coronavirus pandemic has made its mark on industries and businesses across the world and the Cannabis industry is no exception. Three trends emerging in this shifting marketplace are worth considering as the Cannabis industry adjusts to the new normal.

1. Safety First

Thirty three states have legalized medical marijuana, 11 of which plus Washington D.C., also allow recreational use. This means that most dispensary customers are medical marijuana patients. Like any other person with medical needs, a pandemic doesn’t eliminate their need to fill their prescriptions.

Regulators and the cannabis industry understand: a) cannabis is an essential business, and b) these patients have a higher health risk status. In turn, they are working together to implement new rules, which include:

  • Access to delivery and curbside pickup.
  • Allowing telemedicine visits to obtain medical marijuana (MMJ) license.
  • Extending expiration dates on MMJ cards.

These practices offer improved, safe access to cannabis in states with medical cannabis programs. High risk patients now can shop for the products they need, while still practicing social distancing. Much like any other changes that have happened during the pandemic to reduce friction, it appears these simplified shopping methods may be here to stay.

Prepared to return to work safely? See our Workplace Protective Equipment

2. Buying Behaviors Are Shifting

MJ Biz Con is a leading news source in the CBD and Cannabis industries. Their content and reporting have their finger on the pulse of the industry. According to a recent report, dispensary shopper behavior is shifting—significantly.

  • Sales declines due to lost tourism dollars from cancelled vacations or postponed adventures are being experienced by states where recreational use is legal, like Colorado and Nevada. However, resident driven sales for medical marijuana are seeing a significant surge in states like Oklahoma, Illinois, and Maryland. Oklahoma’s medical marijuana monthly sales skyrocketed by $23.8M from March to May 2020.
  • Due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, shoppers are making fewer trips to their local dispensary. This shift in frequency is leading to larger purchases when they do go into the brick and mortar.
  • The ability for customers to purchase cannabis online has also led to more spend in a single shopping session.
  • More weekday sales and purchases earlier in the day are allowing people to avoid crowds to reduce their risk of exposure.
  • COVID-19 has caused shoppers’ daily habits to shift. The need for discretion and efficiency has been reduced. This perhaps is why MJ Biz Con reports sales have increased for flower and edibles, while pre-rolls have declined.

3. Experience is King

Blending digital landscapes with physical spaces has long been considered a “nice to have” for many industries. Due to the severe impact on in-person shopping due to COVID-19, it has now become a must have for retailers and any other organizations who rely on foot traffic in a brick and mortar location.

The coronavirus pandemic is encouraging organizations that were historically not digitally focused, due to complexity or heavy-regulation, to evolve their operations swiftly. Shoppers have transitioned to digital with their purchases at favorite businesses, when before it wasn't an option.

A recent Forbes article reports that once the pandemic is behind us, many shoppers are expected to embrace in-person experiences again. However, brick and mortar may never be the same. Now more than ever, retailers need to complement in-person experiences with digital touchpoints that amplify the shopper experience and remove some of the friction from the buying process.

Even when people feel comfortable going into stores again, they may feel differently about small or crowded retail spaces. Considering store layout and exploring ways to increase spaces between customers, provide product education from a distance, and facilitate quicker in-store transactions are a few ways retailers can improve the likelihood shoppers will return.

InStore Design Display is working with brands and retailers to better understand the dispensary (and shoppers) of the future. Our team is hard at work to help our clients create an in store experience that cannot be rivaled by the ease of curbside pickup.

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