COVID-19's Impact On How People Consume Cannabis & Why It Matters
Edibles are becoming more popular.
According to a recent article from Business Insider, edible cannabis in the form of food, drink, and tinctures is a safer alternative to vaping or smoking the substance because it doesn't cause lung damage. Data has also shown us that people with underlying lung conditions, such as smokers, have a higher risk of COVID-19. With that said, are people consuming less cannabis or are they simply switching up the delivery methods?
Pre-roll sales have taken a hit.
We've seen reports of sales of edibles increase significantly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and regular cannabis smokers are now switching to delivery methods that give their lungs a break like THC and CBD infused treats, drinks, and tinctures. That's not to say that consumers aren't smoking, but there has been a noticeable increase in edible sales and a sharp decline in pre-roll sales. So, what does this mean for you and your brand's communication strategy?
What brands should do about this shift in consumer behavior.
Brands need to service consumers beyond just delivering a product. Whether you're a THC or CBD focused brand, if you have products that don't require consumers to smoke, it's critical for you to communicate with consumers about those alternatives and why they're probably the healthiest options right now. Not only will this serve you and your business well , but ethically you're providing better access to products that are in greater demand by those who need them now more than ever.
The cannabis space was already lacking transparency and authenticity prior to COVID-19, and its consumers are still in desperate need of honesty, transparency, and education. Take it upon yourself to become that authority figure or expert in this space so that individuals have a trusted name they can rely on. Make it a point to educate consumers about the differences between consuming an infused treat, tincture, beverage, smoking a joint, and using a vaporizer. These are things that might seem like common sense to a cannabis veteran, but for new users all of this can be daunting to take in at once.
Here are a couple ways to continue communicating effectively with consumers:
1. Create content for your blog and social media channels. Write about which products are best for certain ailments and how they work. It's no longer enough to just say, "this will help you fall asleep faster." Consumers want to know why it will help them fall asleep.
If you think your customers are going to transition from smokeable hemp to tinctures, inform them what that transition may be like.
Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer, and consider the questions they might have running through their mind:
Will it take longer to feel the effects of a tincture versus smoking hemp?
Why would someone choose to take a 25mg tincture over a 25mg chocolate chip cookie? What's the difference? Is there a difference?
2. Pitch an interesting story that's relevant, newsworthy, and timely to the media and press. If your pitch is sharp and timed right, it can turn into media coverage that will help you raise awareness, build trust, and establish credibility as an authority in the cannabis space.
Maybe one of your products has received an overwhelming number of positive reviews that praise how they're able to get their normal sleep cycle back after feeling stressed and taken-over by the uncertainty of COVID-19. This is just one basic example of a timely story to share and pitch media influencers.
Keep in mind, the government is tired of brands claiming their products can "cure" or "treat" those with COVID-19 and has sued a number of them. The last thing you want to do is make a false claim in a media pitch trying to get featured in a magazine or online publication. Relevance is different than falsifying the efficacy of your product. Whatever you do, do not go down the dark path that many snake-oil companies have found themselves on, only to face lawsuits as a result of their dishonesty. Be true to your brand, what you stand for, and explore what opportunities are out there for you to capitalize on.
Consumer behavior has shifted a bit in the cannabis space since we've entered this pandemic. Don't fall asleep at the wheel. Be creative about leveraging new trends to help your brand raise awareness, build trust, and establish credibility. Your name is one of your most valuable assets and you can't afford to let it fall into the shadows, especially during a time like this.