Not so very long ago, a hasty sweep through a fluorescent-lit room with tinted windows was about the most memorable “retail experience” a cannabis shopper could hope for. Thankfully, dispensaries in mature markets are opting to ditch the classic low-profile design aesthetic for something fresher and more inviting. For a sneak peek into the future of cannabis retail, look no further than Colorado. The state boasts a staggering 438 dispensaries and comparatively lenient restrictions, making it a hotbed for innovations in cannabis marketing.
Attracting loyal customers in an area teeming with direct competition isn’t as simple as cobbling some ambiance together with spicy mood lighting and a coat of paint. Differentiation requires bold, out-of-the-box branding coupled with top-notch customer service. Consequently, Colorado’s leading dispensaries are a far cry from the cold, clinical pot shops of old.
Take Glendale’s Smokin’ Gun Apothecary, for example. With its hip take on the Old West speakeasy theme, and its “anti-Prohibition museum,” the shop has become a landmark. Good Chemistry in Denver’s Colfax neighborhood offsets minimalist elements with vintage theater seating, checkered floors, and cool absurdist artwork. Diego Pellicer pairs old-world luxury interiors with modest pricing for top-shelf cannabis. While each dispensary offers its own unique retail experience, they all share a reputation for consistent customer service and premium products.
One of the state’s pioneers in elevated medical cannabis retail just recently expanded its Denver operations. Native Roots has opened two new shops: one medical/recreational dispensary in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and another on South Colorado Boulevard, which will cater to recreational customers. Already a household name among local pot connoisseurs, Native Roots aims to expand upon its reputation as an outlet for high-grade cannabis products with a unique and comprehensive customer experience.
Each location has incorporated contemporary, multi-functional details into its design. Both feature spacious, open floor plans and bright lighting. Colorful pop art and warm wood elements cozy up the super clean vibe. Designated areas are appointed to enable customers to effectively choose their own retail adventure.
“The store was designed from an experiential point of view with the ability to linger and learn, gain additional education through a one on one experience at our consultation table or just take advantage of our fast bar for a quick shopping experience,” explained Denise DeNardi, the company’s chief sales officer. “We have the ability to help guide the shopping journey when needed and build the order on the floor. The final transaction occurs at our fulfillment center which is designed to facilitate a quick payment process.” For those wary of indoor shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Capitol Hill location’s drive-thru pickup window allows customers to skip the retail experience altogether.
As cannabis further weaves its way into mainstream culture, retailers face an ever-broadening demographic. Offering decent products at competitive prices no longer guarantees long-term success. Customer loyalty requires tapping into the psychology of what makes people want to buy things and making those transactions as easy, fun, and educational as possible.