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The Untapped Opportunity: Igniting Growth in Cannabis Retail

Dispensaries are engaged in a never-ending struggle for market attention in the ultra-competitive world of cannabis retail, each hoping to take home a bigger piece of the same action.

However, among all of the confusion, I believe that there is one obvious mistake that has received little attention. That is the unrealized potential embodied by both newcomers to the legal cannabis market and conversion of illicit users. 

In other words, too many are focused and fight over the same customers: Those that already buy cannabis in stores. 

For the cannabis industry, the only constant is change. Marijuana regulations, laws, sentiment, technology and business practices evolve each year—meaning there’s a long list of new data and insights to unpack.

The legal cannabis market in the U.S. alone is expected to grow to more than $33 billion this year, which is evidence of its explosive growth in recent years. The cannabis market, which includes illegal market sales, is predicted to be closer to a whopping $100 billion. That’s a sizable consumer base, with many consumers still buying their cannabis on the illegal market due to cost, access and convenience.

Dispensaries run the danger of missing out on the enormous pools of potential consumers as they fight tooth and nail for the attention of current clients. It’s a game of diminishing returns where the real gains come from growing the market itself rather than stealing clients from rivals.

Technology is here to help level the playing field in the battle for market share. Dispensaries have the ability to completely transform the way they interact with customers by utilizing the promise of digital innovation. 

The possibilities are boundless, ranging from user-friendly mobile apps that offer smooth browsing and shopping experiences to advanced loyalty programs that recognize and reward devoted customers. It’s a powerful tool unavailable to the illicit market.

But it’s about completely rethinking the cannabis retail experience from the ground up, not just adding lipstick to a pig. Imagine a future in which cannabis shops use data analytics to provide individualized product suggestions based on each customer’s interests. Imagine a loyalty program that is so immersive and captivating that it turns routine transactions into experiences that people will never forget.

This is not some distant dream. Rather, it is what other industries already do. Through a commitment to innovation and a focus on providing outstanding digital experiences, dispensaries can attract new customers like never before. The potential is waiting, whether it’s luring in users buying illegally or captivating the interest of newcomers keen to learn more about the medicinal properties of cannabis.

Now is the time for all dispensaries that are still stuck in the current quo to seize the opportunity. The cannabis industry is changing quickly, and those that can’t change with the times will eventually fall behind. 

Now is the moment to take action. Revisit the consumer experience, embrace technology, and realize the full potential of cannabis retail. After all, digital experiences played a large part in Starbucks getting consumers to pay four to ten times more for their coffee.

Photo by Dylan McLeod on Unsplash


  • Jack Blaser is the founder and CEO of Mosaic, a company that helps dispensaries with digital solutions. He also serves as a board director for Wedge and the Freedom Educational Foundation, with experience in various industries.

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