A new study puts the official stamp on what dispensary operators have known for years: That senior citizens are the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis users.
That’s great news, on so many levels, though it may seem to be on the more surprising cannabis trends. It suggests that long-held taboos around cannabis are breaking down—that even in the absence of mainstream marketing and advertising, the good word about cannabis is spreading.
As the wave of legalization continues, this trend will only continue to build momentum. That said, like any opportunity, this one presents challenges as well. Is your dispensary appealing to seniors? What are some simple but effective steps you can take to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward with senior citizens, an important demographic you can’t afford to let slip away?
Cannabis Trends: Seniors are the Fast-Growing Demographic in Cannabis
Let’s start by breaking down that recent study. First published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it points out a sharp rise in cannabis use by seniors. While fewer than half a percent of seniors reported using cannabis in 2006, by 2018 that number leaped to roughly 4.2%. Don’t be fooled by that small-looking number. Seniors account for about 14.5% of all Americans, and that number will soon double.
What’s behind this jump in cannabis use? The most obvious answer, of course, is the addition of several legal-cannabis states in the last four years; currently, medical cannabis is legal in 33 states, with several more expected to join the throng in 2020.
Seniors’ attitudes, it appears, are changing along with those state laws. Faced with the realities of living in an aging body, even those seniors who may have been opposed to legalization are finding that—given the increasing body of evidence that cannabis is a safe, sustainable and all-natural remedy for the chronic conditions and symptoms associated with aging—perhaps trying giving cannabis a spin isn’t such a bad idea after all.
As we pointed out above, what’s especially noteworthy about this trend is that it’s occurring more or less organically. As we’ve written previously, a host of local regulations make it difficult to deploy traditional marketing and advertising efforts for dispensaries. This means that seniors are learning about the benefits of cannabis largely from their peers, their friends, and their families. In short, it’s through word of mouth.
Now that you’re fully aware of the importance of catering to senior citizens, what should you do about it? How can you ensure that your dispensary is a warm and welcoming place—to all your customers, of course—but especially to this vital and growing demographic? Let’s take a moment to dive into that question.
Cannabis Trends: Is Your Dispensary Appealing to Seniors?
We spend a lot of time thinking about what makes a dispensary appealing and welcoming to its customers. You can’t afford to overlook this question, especially in the fast-moving and crowded world of cannabis retail. In most markets, multiple dispensaries compete for the public’s favor, and hiring exceptional employees, offering superior customer service, and crafting a comprehensive dispensary experience is vital to securing that essential customer loyalty.
Fortunately, these tactics aren’t age-specific. There’s no rule of good salesmanship you can apply to twenty-somethings that you can’t apply to seniors. But we’d like to offer a few pointers to get you seeing your dispensaries through the eyes of all your customers.
Are You Reaching Out to Seniors?
Senior citizens have different lifestyles, habits, and needs than many younger people. Are you making sure you’re speaking to them with special events, promotions, and offers? Read about How to Host a Successful Cannabis Event and gear the program towards seniors. On a related note, a little outreach can go a long way. While many seniors still live independently, many others reside in 55+ and other seniors-only communities. Is there a physical or virtual message board, or some other opportunity for outreach?
Don’t Forget Your Own Loyalty Program.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Your most loyal customers are your most valuable customers. You shouldn’t be waiting for new clients to ask about your Loyalty Program; you should be letting them know about it from the very first interaction. Especially for those seniors who may have reservations about even stepping inside a dispensary, anything you can do to ensure their comfort and earn their trust is money in the bank.
Is Your Dispensary Clean and Well-Maintained?
This is a no-brainer. The physical condition of your dispensary—inside and out—sends quiet but powerful signals, and if you don’t think your customers are taking note, think again. This is important for clientele of all ages, but none more so than seniors. Have you been putting off a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule (or hiring a third-party provider?). If so, your time’s up.
If seniors aren’t your target demographic, that’s fine. Make sure that everything you’re doing is helping you build relationships with those who are and that you’re staying up to date on cannabis trends.