It’s no secret that the cannabis space is becoming saturated. In Colorado, a pioneer of cannabis legalization, there are more dispensaries than Starbucks locations. This means competition is at an all-time high, and every regulated state is bound to follow suit. As customers become increasingly savvy, it’s critical that cannabis retailers do all they can to ensure customer loyalty. So, why not take a page from Starbucks’ book and implement a customer loyalty program?
In the loyalty industry there are two prominent program structure models, but one has been shown to offer superior results. A retail space can use a points-per-visit model, which guarantees every visiting customer a set amount of points regardless of dollars spent. Or they can use the points-per-dollar-spent model, which is the preferred structure in virtually every non-cannabis retail space. And seeing as non-cannabis retailers have been in the game longer, it is wise to follow their lead.
“From a budgeting standpoint, and from a return on investment standpoint it is much preferred to use the points-per-dollar-spent model that way you know exactly what you’re spending,” Co-founder and CEO of SpringBig, a marketing-as-a-service marketing platform, Jeffrey Harris told CULTUREB2B. “With a points-per-visit model there is no way to calculate that because every customer gets the same amount of points regardless of what they spend. I’ve spent over 20 years in the loyalty industry and points-per-dollar-spent is far and away the preferred model. Any cannabis retailer should be aware of that so that when they’re building their program they can structure it correctly to drive the right kind of results.”
Once an appropriate program structure has been determined, it’s necessary to plot a sufficient marketing strategy. The digital age has dramatically shifted the costs of marketing so a retailer can focus on providing customers with incentives they actually want and will use. Harris advises a communication strategy built on SMS text messaging and email in order to stay in front of customers. He also suggests attributing 70 to 75 percent of a budget to rewards that customers earn in the program. The remaining 25 to 30 percent should go toward software, marketing and administration. Once a marketing strategy is in place, providing the right customer incentives is paramount.
“The whole purpose of the loyalty program for a retailer is to drive more visits from the customer. The rewards that are going to be the most successful at bringing them back into the store more often are going to be either percentage or dollar off discounts on your own products,” Harris said. “In the loyalty program your core offerings should be discounts back into the store, but you should also have additional giveaways and opportunities for the customer.”
“The whole purpose of the loyalty program for a retailer is to drive more visits from the customer. The rewards that are going to be the most successful at bringing them back into the store more often are going to be either percentage or dollar off discounts on your own products.”
Any customer entering a store is interested in the product being sold. So it only makes sense to offer discounts on premium store products. Yet loyalty programs can also help offload excess inventory by promoting specials on slow-moving products and overlooked goods. However, offering rewards members deals on non-cannabis related items can also be a great way to incentivize future purchases and gain new customers through referrals. And the digital age has also made it easier than ever to team up with technology platforms to drive sales through unorthodox offers.
MassRoots, a leading technology and social network platform for the regulated cannabis industry, has been beta-testing its own rewards program, WeedPass, since August 2018 in the California and Colorado cannabis markets. And MassRoots intends to expand the program into every state with a regulated cannabis market. The program participates with subscribed dispensaries and consumers to offer unorthodox promotions with key features. WeedPass makes bulk purchases on items like concert, movie and sports tickets and offers them to participants for $5 to $10 per ticket. WeedPass then distributes the tickets to participating dispensaries who then pass them on to reward customers after they reach a particular spending limit (currently $50 to $75). There is a $15 to $20 listing fee charged to dispensaries associated with WeedPass, but loyalty customers are able to claim rewards directly from retailers.
Although the initial costs of loyalty and rewards programs may seem off-putting, money talks and the data shows. Loyalty customers generally visit two times more often than non-loyalty enrolled customers. On average they spend $194 more than non-members, and they spend $25 more per transaction than non-members. And SMS and email recipients visit five times more than non-recipients, which translates into more purchases overall. If large corporations like McDonald’s and Starbucks feel a need to implement loyalty and rewards programs, there’s a good chance it’s good for a business’ bottom line.