For most cannabis brands, retail marketing is focused on branding, menus, packaging and placement in stores. While those are important elements in an overall marketing plan, there is a key group that has direct impact on brand sales or lack of sales: Budtenders.

A knowledgeable and savvy budtender can flip any customer (a first-time user or experienced buyer) into purchasing a brand or product. They are the frontline of businesses trusted by customers to help select the right products with the perfect results while also the reason many customers return to the store (or don’t). The good budtenders are doing their jobs in this industry. How do we know?

While working with a client who was looking to address sales fluctuations, WYD embarked on a research study that combined analysis of data with extensive retail store fieldwork. The team mapped brand sales to budtender recommendations, layered it with secret shopping of more than 35 dispensaries, and conducted personal interviews with managers, buyers and budtenders. The results were clear down to the decimal point: the recommendations of budtenders matched exactly to the sales data.

What was also clear was that brands that took an interest in the stores and fostered a relationship with budtenders were the brands that were most often recommended. What does this mean for your marketing plan? It means the number one influence on your brand sales is a person or group you may have been ignoring in favor of other priorities.

Try building programs for budtenders that educate, create relationships, recognize star performers and measure results. Don’t just offer freebies or branded swag and think that’s enough. Budtenders are craving information and want to learn. Respectfully, give that to them. And listen to their feedback as budtenders may just have the insights that can help shape your business since they talk customers and brands all day. This can only be done by building authentic relationships and respecting the role they play in the sales process.

The retail environment is competitive, but by effectively working with budtenders and creating programs that matter to them, you can increase sales volume and grow market share.

Need help? WYD works with clients to measure retail marketing effectiveness and launch programs to improve brand performance focused on winning budtender recommendations. This includes working with brands and stores to build educational program, create meaningful relationships, provide recognition, retain and measure results.