This might sound like a reason to sound the doomsday alarm in the retail industry, but nimble companies have found a way through the other side and are able to not only retain customers but gain new ones – with experiential retail. Customers now want retailers to fill the interactive void left by the online sector and experiential retail is there to bridge that gap with an in-store experience.
Cannabis retail is uniquely well-positioned for this shift to experiential retail. First, the product itself is an experience: it’s a way to make memories, much like a meal out instead of a new shirt. Second, cannabis consumers want to feel they are getting the best products based on their needs and desires and in-store experts are there to assist them on that journey.
JLL Retail recently released a report identifying the six dimensions of experiential retail. All six speak to cannabis retail.
- Intuitive: stores must be easily understood upon entering. If customers are unable to find products they are looking for, no in-store activity or experience will make up for this.
- Human element: Knowledgeable and friendly staff will keep customers coming back and aligning with the brand as a whole. Important to note is that the staff cannot feel traditionally “salesy” to customers, or else they will flee to other outlets for their needs.
- Meaningful: The customers want to align with a brand and what the brand stands for. The in-store experience can also highlight the company’s ability to do good in the world as they provide a service. A cannabis company can build a sense of lifestyle and mission such as sustainability in the retail experience.
- Immersive: The retail experience needs to be unique, inviting, and aesthetically pleasing. Think Apple Store instead of (now-defunct) Radio Shack. Cannabis retail has up to now not excelled in this but brands such as Green Growth Brands are filling this much-needed gap in the industry.
- Accessible: Customers might not be able to come back to a physical store every time for their needs, and having the ability to continue to connect with the brand through other outlets will make the customers feel they have options when associating with a cannabis company.
- Personalized: Bespoke solutions to the customer are part of why a customer will choose one brand over another. If they feel the brand understands them, their lifestyle goals, and their desires, they can then provide a solution that feels unique. Cannabis “budtenders” are excellent at providing this personalized approach.
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