On Oct. 17, Canada became the first G7 nation and the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize the use of recreational cannabis. Under the law, Canadian adults (18 years and older) can now purchase cannabis oil, seeds, and plants as well as dried cannabis from licensed producers and retailers. Citizens are also allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public and grow up to four plants in their own home.
With 926,000 kilograms* (kg) of cannabis (medical and recreational) estimated to be consumed in the first year of legalization and a grand total of $4.34 billion** in sales of legal cannabis projected to be generated by the end of 2019, marijuana will have a significant impact on Canada’s economy. The retail industry is set to benefit the most, where businesses are already lining up to grab a share of the sales. This is evidenced by the 109 new marijuana stores*** which are expected to open very soon across Canada.
To examine implications of legal consumption of cannabis in Canada, a recent analysis by Vapourcore.com delved into findings from renowned accountancy firm Deloitte, who surveyed current Canadian marijuana users to discover specific in-store and online features they believe are ‘must-haves’ when shopping for cannabis on either one of the two retail channels.
Vapourcore.com found staff displaying strong product knowledge (71%) to be the most important feature in cannabis stores for current consumers. Thereafter, 70% of cannabis users want shops to have their prices clearly and prominently displayed for their entire product offering. In third position, 68% feel stores selling cannabis should be clean and neat.
Interestingly, for 56% of consumers who presently use cannabis, retail units must be in a safe location and away from child-oriented areas such as schools.
In contrast, just 48% of Canadian marijuana users consider the visibility and ease of finding items essential in shaping their in-store experience as a positive one. The same number of consumers (48%) want brick-and-mortar cannabis shops to place a serious emphasis on visible physical security and effective cyber security.
Focusing on e-commerce, existing users in Canada place free shipping as the focal feature which they think licensed online sellers of cannabis must offer. In addition, 66% deem the price of all products being marked clearly as a very important aspect when buying cannabis through a website, and 54% desire a wide assortment of products (including different strains and accessories like rolling papers) from online cannabis vendors.
When shopping online, consumers require any personal and financial information (e.g. name, credit card numbers, address, login credentials) they disclose to retailers/merchants to be stored safely and securely. The same principles apply to e-commerce cannabis vendors, with 43% of pot users wanting them to have robust data management, privacy protection and cybersecurity measures when they make transactions on their website.
On the other end of the table, only 38% of cannabis smokers are worried about the products on an online vendors website coming from a trusted producer/manufacture/retailer. Slightly above, 45% anticipate internet marijuana sellers to have a varied selection of delivery methods, especially faster shipping options for those keen to receive their items soon as possible.
The research also revealed that weed-infused baked goods such as cookies and brownies (51%) are the edible products which current and likely users of cannabis most intend to try. After baked goodies, 43% of existing and prospective marijuana consumers would like to eat chocolate that has pot in it.
Opposingly, it seems Canadians’ lack an appetite for cannabis-based savoury foods—such as potato chips (22%), crackers/biscuits (20%), and olive oil (19%) that contain weed in them—all garnered the least amount of interest.
Charles Bloom, managing director of Vapourcore.com, comments: “The legalization of recreational cannabis has facilitated exciting new opportunities for Canada’s retail industry. As Canadians flock to stores and online vendors to legally purchase recreational cannabis, retailers need to get the fundamentals right to create an optimal shopping experience. This research shows that are a range of in-store and e-commerce features that consumers would really like marijuana sellers to prioritize and provide. These include their preferences on various customer touch points such as product choice, pricing, and security. If retailers integrate these features and execute them in the right way, they will be adequately prepared to maximise on customer satisfaction and retention.”
*“926,000 kilograms (kg) of cannabis” = Ottawa Citizen/Marijuana Policy Group Report for Health Canada
**“$4.34 billion in sales of legal cannabis” = Deloitte 2018 Cannabis Report
***“109 new marijuana stores” = AP News