Few people — including marketers — genuinely understand what User Experience (UX) is. Ignoring UX can be costly; it is arguably the most critical component of building a cannabis brand.
Think about it. Who are the world’s most admired companies?
(Source: Fortune Magazine)
What do they all have in common?
They create remarkable customer experiences. They focus above else on User Experience, commonly abbreviated as UX.
What is User Experience (UX)?
Defined merely: UX is the process of planning and controlling the totality of your customers’ experiences to enhance their satisfaction with your brand. Marketers accomplish this by improving design, accessibility, usability, and ultimately the pleasure customers derive by interacting with your products or services.
Has the Cannabis Industry Been Slow to Embrace Smart UX?
Cannabis brands should embrace smart UX, not just because as a cannabis brand they need to communicate they are legitimate and professional — not a fly-by-night operation — but, because as the market matures and becomes more mainstream, they need to reach new customers.
Fortunately, in recent years (as more states legalize recreational cannabis), more and more cannabis companies have been following the lead of the world’s most respected brands. However, there are still too many cannabis brands focusing on “stoner culture,” when the real opportunity is in mainstreaming cannabis by building brands that appeal to the masses and niche markets (think soccer moms or consumers who appreciate craft beer or fine wines).
Pax Vapor, a portable vaporizer brand, learned through their initial research that fewer than 10 percent of people who use cannabis self-identify as “weed smokers.” Recognizing this untapped market, rather than creating another clunky pot smoking device, they built their brand like a Silicon Valley tech company. Appealing to an urban and affluent demographic, they design slick vaporizers that resemble something you’d find at an Apple Store.
Another brand — Origins Cannabis, a West Seattle dispensary — has also heeded the call. They’re taking lifestyle seriously, having created an interactive menu grounded in science. Recognizing that the effects of cannabis are much more complex than THC potency, they developed the Origins Lifestyle Spectrum menu which allows consumers to filter cannabis strains by lifestyle preference.
How Do You Create a Rockstar User Experience?
Start with these questions:
- Whom do you believe your ideal customers are?
- What behaviors would you like elicit from your customers (beyond just purchasing)?
- What is a typical journey of your customers?
Effective UX requires a deliberate and methodical focus on design, customer experiences, accessibility, ease of use, and outcomes.
Eliminate anything that detracts from the successful use or sale of your products and services so that you can ensure the best possible outcome for your customers.
UX Encompasses Every Part of the Customer Journey
Let’s examine each aspect of your brand that customers interact with, what common problems are, and how you can solve problems.
It’s amazing how many companies ignore or neglect their website. Your website is the epicenter of your digital presence. And, you need to pay particular attention to how customers will interact with it.
Problem: Poor Website Design Causes Visitors to Bounce
Remarkably, many companies will expend significant effort driving traffic to their website while completely ignoring fundamental design principles. But, what’s the point of boosting website traffic if users can’t easily navigate your site, become frustrated, lose interest, and bounce?
- Create intuitive menus and navigation.
- Eliminate unwanted steps to ensure a smooth experience.
- Enable consumers to make buying decisions easier and faster.
- Ensure your website is mobile friendly (mobile responsive). We’ve found that among our client websites, more than 70% of visitors are accessing dispensary websites from a mobile device.gm
You influence the user experience from the moment the customer enters your store until the time they leave.
Problem: Customers Have Unsatisfactory In-Store Experiences
It’s all too common for customers to visit a store, only to leave disappointed, never to return.
- Create a clean environment without distractions. An inviting atmosphere encourages repeat business.
- Make sure lines are short, and customers don’t have to wait long for help.
- Make in-store experiences as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
- Provide transparency; display (or make accessible) lab testing that preferably includes more than just THC content (e.g., other cannabinoids and terpene content)
- Educate customers without overwhelming.
- Employ friendly, knowledgeable staff.
- Invest in training your staff.
Your team represents your brand. They are a reflection of your brand and core values.
Problem: Unknowledgeable Dispensary Staff Neglect Customers’ Core Needs and Desires
Many stores have staff (budtenders) who are overly aggressive, pushing products (that they’re trying to get rid of) rather than being patient, listening to the customer, and taking a consultative approach. The budtenders approach isn’t just bad for business; it’s terrible for the reputation of the industry!
- Ensure your staff is well trained and knowledgeable in all your products.
- They can answer common questions, or refer them to the right resource.
- They DON’T provide incorrect answers! If they don’t know, that’s okay! But, they should know how to find the correct answer.
- Recognize that your customer base is diverse with unique needs and levels of cannabis knowledge. (Medical patients are different from recreational users. Newbies are different from seasoned veterans.) One size doesn’t fit all!
New West Summit Panel: “Marketing and UX: Targeting The Cannabis Consumer”
Where: East Hall, Room B at Marriott City Center in Oakland, CA
When: Saturday, October 14, 2:15pm-3:15pm
Moderator: Max Simon – Founder and CEO, Green Flower Media
- Guillermo Bravo – CEO, Foottraffik
- Carolyn Gerin – Co-founder, Cannawise
- Rick Bakas – Founder fresh baked goods and founding member of the American Cannabinoid Clinics
- Celeste Miranda – Founder and CEO, Cannabis Marketing Labs