Marijuana Marketers Prepare for 4/20 Holiday

Pot's unofficial holiday brings heightened attention, but also challenges as the industry grapples with falling employment.

As the cannabis industry continues to grapple with macroeconomic miseries, marketers are gearing up for a big shopping day today, marijuana’s unofficial holiday.

Tori Rusko, a senior account executive at Mattio Communications, one of the largest cannabis public relations firms, hopes that the 4/20 celebrations can help bring the industry’s positive aspects to light—including the creativity on display in marketing campaigns.

One such campaign Mattio did was for Edie Flower by Edie Parker, a female-owned brand based in New York that markets cannabis in partnership with Ascend Wellness. The campaign spoofs classic ads, with a cannabis twist, including a Wendy’s knock-off called “Where’s the Kief?” (a reference to the most potent part of a cannabis flower).

But garnering attention for the campaign has proven difficult.

“The industry is more interested in the doom and gloom,” said Rusko, pointing to recent developments such as the first-ever drop in cannabis employment numbers. With job employment declining year over year, she said, negative stories tend to overshadow the more positive and lighthearted news.

But that won’t stop the efforts.

“It’s still important for us to pitch the deals that are happening and stuff like that, because we want the consumers to pay attention to that more than anything else,” she said.

Capitalizing on the Hype

For companies everywhere, April 20 presents an opportunity to engage with customers and promote their products.

In California, StateHouse Holdings prepared to celebrate the “finest products and brands the state’s cannabis market has to offer,” according to its marketing chief, Angela Pih.

Pih emphasizes that StateHouse’s long-term commitment to the California cannabis industry is important because it builds credibility and trust with customers.

“We’re taking advantage of this 4/20 holiday to reaffirm our dedication to California’s cannabis market,” Pih told Green Market Report. “We’re not just a business that operates in multiple states; we’re a company that truly believes in and supports the growth of California’s cannabis scene.”

She noted that celebrity endorsements are not as effective in the California market as they might be elsewhere. On the West Coast, where the industry is more established, customers are more discerning and want to see that the people behind the products are actively involved in the entire supply chain, from cultivation to distribution.

“People who have been in the industry for a long time have long memories,” Pih noted. “They will remember who’s been around when times are hard and are shoulder-to-shoulder with you. They’ll see the hype brands or companies that come in and leave.”

In Chicago, booking platform Bucket Listers posted about a 4/20-themed event, 4 Daze of 420, taking place April 21-23.

The adults-only event, open to those 21 and older, will consist of various 4/20-inspired experiences, such as canna magic, comedy shows, and a cannabis speakeasy with Chicago burlesque performers.

The event, hosted by TV personality and connoisseur Dom Brown, a “canna catering” service, and a local Chicago media company, will span multiple locations in the city.

The event is an example of how collaboration can build awareness.

Brown said toward the end of an ad with local seafood joint Lawrence’s Fish & Shrimp, “When the munchies hit, we don’t suggest swimming.”

What the Numbers Say

Adapting strategies to take advantage of increased customer interest during the period can help retailers optimize sales and customer retention. This includes offering attractive discounts, accommodating the shift to cashless payments, and focusing on initiatives to retain customers.

Recent data from cloud commerce platform Treez noted a 20% increase in shoppers on 4/20 compared to any other single day in the year, as the date attracts a swath of both casual and regular customers who are looking to stock up on cannabis products.

The week of 4/20 also experiences a 19% increase in customers, suggesting heightened interest in cannabis shopping throughout the entire week. However, the week following 4/20 experiences a 24% decrease in customers, likely attributed to customers having stocked up during the preceding week.

Payment methods are also evolving in the cannabis industry. While cash remains the primary method of payment, the percentage of cash transactions is decreasing. In 2021, 80% of revenue on 4/20 was in cash, while in 2022, it dropped to 71%.

The decline indicates a growing preference for cashless payments, as retailers look to accommodate the shift to cater to customer preferences.

The company also analyzed 7,500 discounts, representing more than $3.5 million in sales, and found that the highest discount offered was 25% off the entire store, with most discounts being limited to the day of 4/20 itself.

The top 10 redeemed discounts ranged from 15% to 42% off, indicating that customers are attracted to significant markdowns during the period.

The average return rate for new customers using the top 10 discounts was 35.9%, while the overall customer repeat rate was 22.79%, highlighting the importance of offering attractive discounts to acquire new customers and encourage repeat business.

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson writes about the cannabis industry for the Green Market Report. He previously covered the Missouri Statehouse for the Columbia Missourian and has written for the Missouri Independent. He most recently covered retail, restaurants and other consumer companies for Bloomberg Business News. You can find him on Twitter at @adam_sjackson and email him at adam.jackson@crain.com.


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