3 Ways to Light Up Cannabis and CBD Holiday Sales

The holidays are a time to get lit—especially if you’re a businesses that sells products in the cannabis or CBD space.

Retail trends over the past few years show a lift in sales up to 20% for dispensary cannabis sales between Green Wednesday (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving) and the weeks running up to December 25th*.

But, with increasing competition and sophistication in the industry, you need to put together a plan—like, now—if you want your winter sales to heat up at the right time.

Here are a few tips we’ve learned from working with CPG companies on how to prime your business for holiday sales without resorting to discounting prices:

Cannabis infused beverages like Saka’s sparkling wine can expect to ring the New Year with soaring sales

1. Sell for the Season

Ideally, by the time carols start blaring in department stores, you’ll be busy making sure orders flow smoothly for your cannabis products or accessories. With less time on your hands, be real when it comes to your winter strategy so you can focus on stellar customer service.

The place to start is with a plan. Based on your Brand Strategy and portfolio of products, look at previous sales and trends to determine where your marketing efforts should be focused—and who you’re talking to.

For instance, cannabis gift sales from previous years have shown edibles, topicals and non-inhalants as top-picks for the holidays.*

Are customers in your area buying introductory gifts for the beginner in their life? If so, find opportunities to make your customer the gift-giving hero with extra education, stigma-dispelling packaging, or sets with all the tools a newbie might need, but not know to ask for.

Or, is the rise in sales due to self-gifts for stealthy medicating around family? In that case, focusing on travel and discretion can help customers stay full of cheer in the frostiest of times.

Knowing who is making the purchases, and why, opens up opportunities to anticipate needs and exceed expectations—which will boost your brand reputation as well as sales.

Recreational marijuana industry aspirants need only look to the beverage alcohol industry for marketing and branding parallels. Positioning a brand to align with various consumer needs and activities will be a strong strategic option.

— Deloitte, Recreational Marijuana: Insights & Opportunities

Understanding your customer, strategy and data also helps you navigate holiday specific sales.

For instance, New Year’s Eve has offered a 700% boost in sales for infused beverages (yes, you read that right). And other cannabis sales can get as high as 30% as people ring in the New Year, making it the biggest day of sales behind the biggest cannabis holiday of 4/20*.

And for Valentine’s Day, point-of-sale data from Flowhub found that 2019 Valentine’s Day spending on cannabis increased 7% compared to an average Thursday.

Using your Brand Strategy can help you find the right opportunities in trends to create more powerful marketing that connects with your customers and boosts holiday sales, while supporting the integrity of your brand.

2.  Plan During Pool Weather

As the cold weather rolled in last year, CBD and cannabis Gift Guides were hot. Publications from Esquire and Rolling Stone, to Newsweek and Forbes, featured the guides in the run up to the holidays. But, if you want in, you need to be ready before the temperatures drop.

“Planning far, far ahead is probably the single most important thing you’ll need to do in order to get top-tier magazine coverage during the holiday season.” says marketing and media relations expert, Sacha Cohen, founder of Grassfed Media.

According to Cohen, “Lead times for many national publications are typically 3-6 months, and a few are even longer. So if you’re even remotely thinking about pitching your must-have product to national publications like Food & Wine, Martha Stewart Living, Allure, or the mother of all holiday gift guides, O, Oprah the Magazine, it’s time to hustle.”

“Of course, there are always last-minute opportunities for smaller outlets, but be wary and do your homework to make sure that they’re legit.”

— Sacha Cohen, founder of Grassfed Media

Talk to you publicist or marketing team to set a target, and be sure to factor in all the items that need to happen to bring your new product to life—from time it will take for printing to how long is needed to formulate a final ingredients list.

For packaging projects, give yourself 6-10 weeks in order to ensure you have enough time to explore materials, test your new prototypes, and have the final packaging ready to send to publications. If you’re rolling out a new product, give yourself extra time to ensure you can have necessary info ready to go, like THC/CBD levels, ingredients, nutrition, etc.

If your full packaging run isn’t quite ready to send in for the publication’s shoot, use a prototype and a local professional photographer to capture simple, high-res photos.

The key is to remember that the details in what you present matters. You’re not only promoting your brand, but reinforcing the quality of the publications you’re hoping to get into—and need to stand out when pitching to editors.

When sending out your pitch, Sacha Cohen of Grassfed Media advises, “Be sure to include everything that an editor will need to include your product in the gift guide. Including a link to hi-res professional images (we cannot stress this enough—great photos are critical), a description, pricing, and where people can buy the product. Don’t make the editor hunt around for information. That’s not going to happen.”

Kiva’s cannabis-infused holiday bark featured in the LA Times December 2018 Gift Guide

The ‘Bestie Kit’ gift set from Beboe in the LA Times 2018 California Cannabis Gift Guide

3. Aim for a Packaging After-life

Short-run packaging for the holiday season provides an opportunity to break away from the ordinary and flex your brand to create something unique and limited edition—even if you’re not rolling out any seasonal products.

However, the cannabis industry is already facing the challenge of reducing wasteful packaging while remaining compliant with safety laws, so finding a way to keep containers out of landfills makes traditional holiday packaging a challenge.

And, while the most impactful packaging is kept by the customer and reused, let’s face it—there are really only so many fancy doob tubes a person can find a creative use for.

Cannabis and CBD companies need to be creative when it comes to product packaging and look for ways to add value—not just decoration.

Upgrade your Containers
Instead of adding extra layers to your product packaging with boxes and wrappings that end up as waste, use the holidays as a way to try out premium materials that give your product line a boost.

Glass, metal and paper are sustainable materials that can be combined to create limited edition packaging that look extraordinary and can be decked out with print techniques like foil, embossing, or laser cutting for a next-level look. Versatile specialty cannabis containers like Re:Stash, Sana and Crativ can also elevate your products from everyday to gift-worthy.

Use your Brand Guide and Brand Positioning to look at opportunities to push the limits and try something new and unexpected with your design that your ideal customers will add to their Wish List in an instant.

Remember, this will be limited edition, so make it one of a kind.

In 2018, holiday-themed packaging and bundles in cannabis and CBD saw an extra 5% sales gain each week coming up to December 25th*, compared to ordinary packaging.

Give Something Good 
If changes to product packaging aren’t a possibility, look for other ways to add value to your product in order to make it an enticing gift option.

First, understand your customer by reviewing your Ideal Client Persona along with previous sales data.  Are regular sales spiking or do sleeper products jump in sales during the winter months?  And, most importantly, who are they buying for?

Bundling popular items are an easy way to create a gift package of value that doesn’t require a lot of extra packaging, and also offers an easy introduction to your brand for gift recipients.

Or, do one better by working with one of the many talented makers in the industry to create beautiful accessories and tools that no one in their right mind would ever toss.

Of course, getting into a holiday frame of mind when all you’re dreaming of is a book and beach isn’t ideal, but, planning ahead, along with a little design and marketing help, will help you make the most out of the holiday season and keep your sales lit until spring.

*Retail sales data from ‘The Holiday High:A Look at Seasonal Trends in Cannabis’ report from Headset.io

Ready to Light Up Your Holiday Sales?

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