April 20, or 420, is a yearly event celebrated by cannabis enthusiasts. For members of the cannabis industry, 420 is a day where businesses invest a lot of time and energy. According to analytics firm Headset, 420 has represented the biggest day for retail sales every year since legalization. Like many other industries, the past two years have been greatly impacted by COVID-19. So how did retailers perform on the industry’s big day in 2022?
We thought it would be interesting to review the 420 retail predictions from cannabis data firms and compare them to what dispensaries actually experienced last month. Cannabis market research firm BDSA predicted a 50 percent increase in daily sales on 420. This year, 420 fell on a Wednesday which BDSA predicted would lead to greater retail sales than in the two previous years. The firm also expected a boost in sales across all product categories with cannabis-infused beverages potentially being the breakout star.
Headset classifies itself as “business intelligence” for the cannabis industry. The company was more bullish in its 420 sales predictions. Headset forecasted a 100 percent increase in retail sales for U.S. dispensaries and believed big discounts would be available for consumers. Headset predicted that the increase in sales on 420 would be the result of increased transactions and not necessarily individual customers spending more. They expected the number of customers to double on 420 when compared to a typical day.
For this story, we spoke with several dispensaries to better understand their 420 promotions and experiences. Long-term success in retail is not simply about hitting home runs, it requires analyzing success as well as opportunities for improvement. We discussed what worked well and what adjustments they can make for the next year.
Jushi Holdings Inc. is a vertically integrated organization that operates dispensaries in multiple states through its BEYOND/HELLO brand. Just as Headset predicted, Jushi focused on offering significant discounts on certain products.
“This year’s 4/20 promotions were focused on giving the customer the most value for their visit,” Brendon Lynch, Jushi Executive Vice President of Retail Operations said. “Our 4/20 day-of promotions in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, and California were for 25% off an individual’s entire purchase, with a special 35% off the block for the first 50 people to visit each location. Having that kind of limited-time offer gave the day a Black Friday feel that had customers lining up outside the stores before the doors even opened!”
Lynch also said that it was a record day of sales for the company and that 420 sales this year were significantly higher than last year. “Online, we saw the highest hourly peak on record, and the highest daily traffic ever,” Lynch added.
Lynch and his team were paying close attention to consumer behavior on 420 and want to parlay what they learned into even greater success next year.
“With every year that this industry continues to grow, we continue to learn new avenues of efficiency,” Lynch said. “Preparing for more states to move toward adult use is a key initiative for our team, so this year’s 4/20 was a great dress rehearsal.”
While using data is essential for success in retail, it’s also important for brands to make an emotional connection with consumers. Native Roots, which operates 20 cannabis retail locations across Colorado, held a campaign asking consumers and employees “How do you 420?”
“The answers ranged from hosting a dinner party with cannabis-infused plates, binging on movie classics like Half-Baked and Pineapple Express, or heading out to a music festival,” Buck Dutton, VP of Marketing at Native Roots explained. “I did not anticipate that the response would be so high. We will definitely build on this momentum in the future.”
Native Roots understands that cannabis enthusiasts all have their own consumption preferences and it plays an important role in the success of 420 promotions.
“We usually see a nearly 50% jump in sales in the days around 420, so we want to further maximize that opportunity by ensuring promotions are inclusive of all customer consumption preferences,” Dutton said. “Promotions covered a variety of product categories including flower, concentrates, and edibles.” Dutton was also proud of a unique 420 activation this year. Beyond sales and promotions, Native Roots focused on promoting a safe 420 for 2022.
“For the first time, we led a partnership to promote safe driving with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Colorado Department of Transportation, and other cannabis organizations such as Marijuana Industry Group, Wana Brands, Kind Colorado, and Terrapin Care Station,” Dutton said.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 and its variants had an impact on Native Roots’ approach to 420 this year.
“Planning for 420 takes months and when we initially discussed our plans in January, the Omicron variant was spreading rapidly,” Dutton said. “This impacted our ability to plan for April and we decided to be cautious and held back some of our more ambitious plans. 420 will be back to 100 percent, hopefully, in 2023!”
But Dutton and his team are already examining how they can enjoy even more success next year.
“We are doing a deep dive into all of our data points and getting customer feedback as well around what worked and what didn’t work for 420,” Dutton said. “We’re not only looking at 420 as a day but also the days leading up to 420 and the month of April as a whole. We’re reviewing everything that worked and identifying everything that can be improved.”
Thrive Cannabis Marketplace operates locations throughout Nevada. This year they found a fun way to increase customer excitement and engagement. They held a cannabis-themed costume contest at their Southern Highlands location in Las Vegas. Participants were eligible to win an eighth of cannabis per week for an entire year.
“Customers stopped inside the store wearing cannabis-themed costumes and snapped photos in front of the store display with their exit bag to enter, using the hashtag #Thrive420,” John Erminio, Director of Growth & Strategy of Thrive Cannabis Marketplace said. “We also offered 24 vendor-themed bundles awarded each hour, BOGO deals, and local food vendors at this location and our six other stores across Nevada. I’d say we found great success with the contest. Our social engagement overall increased by +148% and we also saw a significant sales increase as compared to previous years.
Creating a successful promotion like a costume contest is no easy task and requires engaged consumers willing to put in a little bit of work. And while Erminio is satisfied with how things went this year, he believes there is room for improvement.
“This was a bit of a trial run,” Erminio said. “In the future, we’d like to consider running our next campaign throughout multiple stores or across all of our locations in the state, rather than hold an activation central to one store.”