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An Overview of the Dispensary Landscape

portrait of dispensary landscape

Due to cannabis’s illegal status throughout the years, there hasn’t been a significant amount of data surrounding cannabis users – especially about where they buy their marijuana. Green Horizons, a cannabis data analytics company, released an in-depth white paper highlighting some aspects of a cannabis user’s experiences including why they use marijuana, how old they are, and more. One interesting talking point is the overview of the dispensary landscape. Here are some interesting tidbits:

Locally-Owned Dispensaries Take Precedence Over Chains and Franchises

The report surveyed people that live in a state where both medical and recreational use are legal, and therefore have the most options when it comes to purchasing cannabis. According to the report, 52% of people buy from a local, independent retail store, as opposed to 42% who buy from a franchised or chain dispensary.

This is likely due to the forward-thinking of cannabis consumers in terms of small businesses and sustainability. Cannabis consumers see the value in supporting local business owners and they develop a relationship with those working at the store.

Word-of-Mouth is the Biggest Driver of Traffic to Dispensaries

The survey showed that 47% of customers learned about the store they shop at from a word-of-mouth recommendation. In the age of digital advertising, tried-and-true recommendations to others are still powerful in this budding industry. 32% of people said they learned of their dispensary simply by walking or driving by it, proving that location is also an important factor for retail owners to take into consideration.

Google Maps/reviews are the second-highest driver of traffic, clocking in at 34%. In other words, when people search “dispensaries near me,” they choose from one of the first few listings they see on Google Maps. Surprisingly, 32% said they learned of their current dispensary because their healthcare professional recommended it to them. This is great news for the industry as it shows that more and more healthcare workers are getting on board with the truth of cannabis being a strong and effective medicine.

Weedmaps and Leafly also made the list, with 31% and 21% (respectively) learning about where they shop from these online platforms.

High-Quality Products are the #1 Reason People Choose a Dispensary

It may seem obvious, but most people choose to shop at a store that carries high-quality products. 67% of those surveyed gave this reason as their answer. The second-highest form of motivation is that a dispensary is close to their home or work – proving once again how location relates to overall success.

The third reason is having a consistent product selection, with 61% of those surveyed having said that this is important to their decision-making process. When consumers try a cannabis product and like the way it makes them feel, they buy more. When they buy more, they expect it to work the same way it did before. Offering a consistent product selection is an easy way for dispensaries to build trust among their consumers.

Additional Reasons for Choosing a Dispensary

Prices are also a part of how customers choose a dispensary. While there are six reasons that rank of greater importance in this report, 50% of those surveyed said they chose the dispensary that has the lowest-priced products.

Here are several other reasons for a consumer’s choice in where they shop:

  • The store carries product brands that they prefer.
  • The budtenders are very knowledgeable.
  • They like the vibe the dispensary offers.
  • The store always brings in new products.
  • The store has a loyalty program or perks.
  • They can order online to pick up at the store.
  • They have a good relationship with the budtenders.

On a final note, 47% of people living in medically and recreationally legal states said they buy their marijuana from an individual. This is nearly half of users – which signals uncharted territory for dispensary owners to consider and reach out to.

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