Dispensary Factors: How Consumers Decide Where to Shop for Cannabis

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Factors that influence where cannabis consumers shop often boil down to accessibility.

November 3, 2022

A dispensary’s ultimate goal is to become a consumer’s favorite place to shop for cannabis. So, what exactly makes a dispensary become someone’s favorite?

Brightfield Group’s new study of the U.S. retail cannabis brand landscape analyzed 11 cannabis markets to answer this question. The most common reason? Location. More than one-third (36%) of consumers surveyed list “the location” as a reason why a dispensary is their favorite, with it being the top reason in nine of the 11 markets explored.

In a mature market that can meet demand—like Colorado—proximity could be the make-or-break factor when consumers choose where to shop, especially if products and prices are similar across dispensaries. In limited-license markets with fewer dispensaries—such as Illinois, which, with 110 actively operating dispensaries, equates to one dispensary per 115,000 people—the location is even more important if other dispensaries are not nearby.

Location, however, is not the only important factor when it comes to attracting customers. “Variety of products” and “lowest prices,” both cited by 27% of respondents, were other top factors.

All three of these factors—convenient location, product variety and competitive prices—revolve around access. Consumers who participated in Brightfield’s study prioritize these basic attributes over other dispensary features like atmosphere and brand variety.

Source: Brightfield Group; U.S. Cannabis Retail Brand Health; 2022 Methodology: U.S. Cannabis Retail Brand Health data was first collected by Brightfield Group in Q2 2022; this data will be updated bi-annually. Data is collected online via a consumer survey panel. Each wave consists of 5,000+ respondents age 21+ who were blindly screened for cannabis consumption in the past 6 months. States included in this study are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

High-Spending Consumers

Consumers who spend more than $100 per product indicated they value different dispensary attributes than shoppers who spend less than $100 per product, according to Brightfield data. These high-spending consumers tend to prioritize convenience and efficiency, noting “online ordering available,” “delivery available” and “wait time” are important when selecting where they shop when compared to people buying at lower price points. This group is also less likely to say “customer service” and “knowledgeable staff” influence their dispensary choices.

Cannabis consumers shopping at higher price points indicated they are looking for cannabis to improve focus, energy, connectedness and athletic performance more than consumers shopping at lower price points, who more often noted desired effects of relaxation and sleep.

With high spenders preferring dispensaries that have convenient ordering options and offer products with a variety of desired effects, having well-organized menus with detailed product descriptions and images may be key in attracting these consumers. In Brightfield’s consumer insights reports, consumers spending more than $350 a month consistently report being more aware of and more likely to purchase minor cannabinoids when compared to users spending less per month. Bottom line: High spenders are likely making purchasing decisions before they arrive in-store.

In an environment where location is the most common reason people choose a dispensary, retailers can gain a loyal, high-spending following by prioritizing what matters most to customers beyond proximity.

Madeline Scanlon is a senior insights analyst for Brightfield Group.