The Future of Cannabis After COVID
In a matter of months, COVID-19 has changed the way the entire world functions. From the way we work to the way we shop, there are many predictions that life will never be the same. So, where does that leave cannabis?
The cannabis industry has already seen significant changes throughout the pandemic, perhaps the biggest becoming "essential business." State governments declared access to cannabis as necessary––a sweet victory for cannabis users in all the cities and states that allow dispensaries. As a result, shops have seen an increase in sales despite many Americans losing their jobs. Between the stress of current events and most stuck at home in lockdown, people are sparking up more than before.
Estimates published in the new Marijuana Business Factbook show the total economic impact of legal cannabis sales increasing from $38 billion-$46 billion in 2019, to $106 billion-$130 billion by 2024 – a 181% increase!
These new estimates reflect the cannabis industry's rapid transformation from an illicit market to its mainstream position in the economy. The industry gained this position after generating scores of new jobs and fresh business opportunities, creating significant ripple effects across the country. Although the pandemic has altered the way shops and consumers function, the foundation of the industry remains strong.
Still, there are a few ways shopping for cannabis is likely to change forever.
Less Time in Dispensaries
Due to the various forms of social distancing that are continuing throughout the country, consumers will be spending less time inside dispensaries. This will ultimately shape the way products are chosen since purchases will rely more heavily on recommendations from Budtenders. Less comfort and leisure time to browse dispensary shelves will shift importance from shelf space and branding to prices and which products stand out to shop staff.
Transition to Online Shopping
Less time spent in dispensaries also means more shopping online. According to reports, the number of new users ordering online has increased by 142% since February. This transition implies both brands and dispensaries may need to find a different way of marketing and educating consumers. Many shops and brands, such as BLOOM, have already begun adapting to these changes, creating user-friendly e-commerce platforms for customers to order products online for curbside pick-up or delivery.
COVID-19 has caused an increase in cannabis delivery services. This change will likely stick around once the pandemic is gone as well. Delivery sales have increased by 46% since February and 115% since January. Many are enjoying the luxury of having their favorite brands safely delivered directly to their home.
As Cory Jones, Founder of The Statement Group, puts it, "And once a consumer gets used to a certain way of life, they don't go back. Think of it as life before pizza delivery versus life after. Cannabis is entering that industry inflection point as you're reading this."
The Switch to Digital
The entire world is rapidly adapting to a new digital way of life. Cannabis will change the same way, which may be a good thing as the industry starts to shift to more conventional marketing platforms and channels. This change will also require cannabis brands and shops to step up their digital presence.
As Jones explains, "More consumers will now be left to their own devices to choose something off the digital shelf—where there's an unlimited amount of brands to compete against and no budtender to guide them. What are they most likely to choose: the brand they've heard of, or the brand they haven't?"
"The basis for these new purchase decisions is going to be built primarily through a brand's digital presence. More research will be done online. And this research won't be about the singularity of your strain's origin; it will be a gut check on basic elements like trustworthiness, safety, and value."
We can only predict what the future of cannabis will look like. The one thing we do know for certain is that the industry will definitely survive, and thrive.
For now, it is necessary for brands and shops to adapt to these changes wisely, as more and more people are looking to cannabis for help right now.