I’m often fascinated by retailers that are sometimes dismissive about taking the time to educate senior citizens about the benefits of cannabis as a medicinal solution to chronic illnesses. I believe Seniors who are adults 65 years and older should be a primary target for all cannabis retailers. My point has been made loud and clear with a recent study out of the prestigious medical research facility out of NYU. This NYU study discovered, the use of cannabis increased by a whopping 75% in the age group of adults 65 years and older in the United States.
This study authored by Benjamin H. Han, MD, MPH and Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, summarized key findings of the most recent senior cannabis uses in the U.S. Here’s the break down of the biggest increased cannabis users based upon the survey sent out to seniors which were included in the study:
- Seniors who had diabetes, this group more than doubled their use compared to other seniors.
- Seniors receiving mental health treatment
- Those reporting past-year alcohol use.
- Women, and individuals who were married, had a college degree, or had higher income also significantly increased their cannabis use.
The average purchase in a California dispensary per transaction is from $120 to $200 based upon the point-of-sale (POS) systems according to BDS Analytics.
What Are the Best Marketing and Sales Techniques Targeting Senior Adults?
Our firm has conducted several due diligence assignments where our clients are looking to acquire various cannabis business and through our analysis, we have discovered the top 3 best practices for identifying, attracting and selling to seniors.
#1 Identify & Empower your Cannabis Community Liason
Let’s first start with the definition and job responsibilities of a Cannabis Community Liason for retailers. This person is usually the store manager that is not only the day-to-day operations person or COO of the cannabis retail store but also the problem solver when things aren’t working. Like the POS system has a glitch or their’s a customer compliant or employees want changes to their shift. Every day is a juggling act for a retail store manager. Our advice is to actually delegate the job function overtime to your top budtender or assistant manager. Why? The store manager usually hopes to get a higher set of job responsibilities like a divisional manager and putting them on the front-lines of creating and executing a Cannabis Community Liason (“CCL”) program is a lot to ask. We recommend that the store manager and designated CCL have a brainstorming session to discuss the ideal customer profile that matches the culture and mission statement of your establishment.
#2 Create an Ideal Cannabis Client
Most ideal customer profiles have a mix of quantitative and qualitative characteristics that identify who is really your ideal cannabis client. Work with your CCL to create a brainstorming session to cover this topic with a few of your front-line budtenders. Here is a shortlist of some characteristics you should be discussing to see if they fit in your model for your store:
- Age of Customer: this represents the discussion around what age seniors will be categorized. Usually, start with a “band of seniors” that spans about 8 years such as A) New Seniors 65 yrs old to 73 yrs. old, B) Moderate Seniors 74 yrs old to 81 yrs old and C) Geriatric Senior 81+ yrs old. Once you determine the three levels of senior customers, you’ll have to dive deeper to see which band suits your retail establishment.
- Spending habits: your team should evaluate how seniors spend their money on medicine vs. other types of goods. For example, would your ideal cannabis client consider marijuana a medicinal product or simply a luxury or “nice to have” medicinal solution.
- Number of Perscriptions taken daily/weekly: this represents an understanding that most seniors are on a fixed income stream. Gaining an understanding of what seniors are spending on medicine on a daily or weekly basis provides retailers a guideline that some seniors may consider cannabis a luxury type of medicine that they simply don’t want to add to their health spending budget.
- Living in Assisted Living or Still on their own: this represents how you determine if your ideal senior is living on their own still or in some type of assisted living situation.
#3 Ask to Follow-up by call, text or note card
Seniors want to feel welcomed into a cannabis retail store and for most, it’ll be their very first visit. They may feel intimidated to ask questions or they may feel overwhelmed just seeing all the various products that contain cannabis. Trying to build a meaningful relationship with seniors will take time and you should ask them permission to follow up after their purchase. This tells them you’ll go the extra mile. A common script you can use as a budtender is “Ms. Jones, we have your three products in here and you mentioned two of them you’re hoping will alleviate some arthritic pain you’re having on your hand. I want to make sure we get you the right medicine and I’d like to call you in a week to see how the two topicals worked out for you? ”
Owners and CCL will have fun designing new and creative scripts to follow-up with seniors but this is the most critical and difficult part to train your budtenders on how to go the extra mile for them. Just looking at a study by AACP (American Association of Consultant Pharmacists) found those aged 65 to 69 take an average of 15 prescriptions per year, while those from 80 to 84 take an average of 18. As the cannabis industry becomes more aware of this amazing plant’s benefits, we should provide essential beginner guides specifically targeted towards seniors. The cannabis industry knows the general population will expand its awareness about the benefits to them and our aging population.