Unlike mainstream consumer industries, cannabis retailers must navigate a myriad of constantly evolving marketing regulations in order to engage with customers. These unique restrictions often bar companies from directly interacting with potential customers and make effective marketing strategies off-limits to most businesses.
While mainstream retailers have fully embraced influencer marketing to sell everything from rugs to vitamins on social media, cannabis retailers have been warier about adopting this strategy. The largest social media platforms are notoriously strict about removing or suspending posts and accounts that promote Schedule I drugs, which means retailers and influencers must take extra compliance precautions before posting.
Despite these regulatory obstacles, cannabis influencer marketing is steadily gaining popularity and reportedly generates a favorable ROI among cannabis marketers. Since regulations and cannabis business operations are more state-specific, retailers can leverage the sway of local and smaller influencers to drive dispensary foot traffic and increase dispensary loyalty.
Marketing strategies that center around a personal narrative often resonate with more consumers and build trust with prospective customers who want to see how the product can be applied in their unique lifestyles. Retailers looking for effective cannabis brand advertising strategies must learn to adapt to these consumer behaviors. Studies have shown that 30% of consumers are more likely to purchase products that are endorsed by a non-celebrity figure than a celebrity, which makes local influencer platforms an ideal method to engage with new cannabis customers.
Local influencers are the optimal vehicle for cannabis brand marketing because they can promote products and brands that are available in their specific markets. Unlike mainstream brands that prefer to work with influencers with large national audiences, dispensaries should aim to work with “micro” influencers who have high engagement rates within their own communities or interest groups. In addition to providing a hyper-local focus, influencers can also provide personal testimonials about their experiences with particular products or any positive experiences with the dispensary itself. These personal reviews can encourage cannacurious consumers to engage with products or retailers without sifting through pages of reviews on other review platforms.
Dispensary referral programs are one of the most effective ways for retailers to gain and retain loyal customers. Studies have shown that people are four times more likely to make a purchase when they are referred by a friend. springbig’s referral platform, Budz, generates a unique trackable link that can be shared with a local influencer’s network to organically attract more customers.
Budz is the ideal program for retailers and brands eager to try new cannabis product marketing strategies, as the platform rewards both the referrer and the referred person and incentivizes the influencer to attract as many people as possible. Dispensaries with stellar products and customer service can benefit tremendously from strategically executed referral programs.
Retailers must always be aware of all federal and local marketing regulations before executing influencer campaigns. Unlike mainstream brands that are able to give away free products for influencer mentions on social media, most laws do not allow companies to give away cannabis products for free. Dispensaries should also take into account any laws around compensating influencers for their work, as those regulations can also vary by state. Most importantly, cannabis retailers must screen social media copy for curative claims and make sure that all messaging is compliant with state advertising laws.
While influencer marketing can be tricky to navigate, the returns can be significant if the campaign is well thought out. Cannabis’ hyper-local business structure is perfectly designed to partner with local influencers and highlight the most appealing products and retailers in each market.
CEO and Co-founder of springbig