Confused dispensary customers need education

Are Dispensaries Properly Educating Customers?

In this ever-evolving industry, everyone continues to agree on the importance of accessible and credible cannabis education for consumers. While states and dispensaries work to remove the stigma associated with cannabis, many have realized that education is the quickest and most effective way to clear the hurdle. Coupled with what traditional retail stores have known for some time now, creating a comfortable and positive customer experience is crucial in creating brand loyalty, not to mention referrals, which will only become increasingly vital to the success of a dispensary as more continue to crop up.
So, are dispensaries today rising to the occasion and properly educating their customers?
We know they are trying to, but is it actually happening? Today, most dispensaries rely heavily on their staff to educate their patrons. While these team members are ideally experienced advocates of cannabis, they are being tasked with a huge burden — providing accurate and compliant information on an increasing number of products, as well as their many and varied potential uses. Currently, a majority of dispensary visitors need high-touch guidance as they are unfamiliar with basic terms and general knowledge of cannabis products. With sales transactions being a priority, the unfortunate reality is that there are plenty of consumers, who are left feeling like an afterthought in every step of the dispensary experience.
Pete Kadens, CEO of Green Thumb Industries continually speaks to the necessity of properly educating cannabis consumers, and the associated challenges dispensaries face when attempting to implement knowledge transfer. “Dispensaries around the country are a lot to take in,” Kadens says. “There are a lot of undereducated consumers out there, and the menus are massive. … The care specialists don’t spend a lot of time with consumers because there are a lot of transactions to be done.”
While most dispensaries try their best to educate their staff, often the challenge becomes that each team member may still hold different beliefs around, or ways of explaining, cannabis and its effects to consumers. They may have biased opinions of what may help an individual and why. Personalized consultations for individual consumers are no longer a “luxury” service since it is now widely known that cannabis can affect people differently. Yet, dispensary staff often do not have the time or expertise to explain all aspects of cannabis at length, and these explanations vary from employee to employee. Consequently, many visitors report feeling rushed to pick products to purchase, or frustrated after receiving conflicting information depending on whom they spoke with. 
This isn’t like a widget you’re putting this in your body,” Kadens explains. “This is something that is going to … affect my central nervous system and my brain. I want to understand how it works,” Kadens says. “So we want to use every single format possible to educate our under-educated consumers.” Kadens adds, “… The more we educate them, the more we build that bond of trust between us and our consumers.”
Although the cannabis industry and Big Pharma are obviously much more different than they are alike, there are certain comparisons that can be made. It would be an immediate, serious cause for concern if people even suspected that prescription drug side effects were not entirely standardized among pharmacists. Trust would go out the window just like that.
Yet, that is what a lack of education about cannabis is perpetuating in our industry at present. Fortunately, dispensaries are prioritizing it more than ever and working hard to provide that same level of consistent and accurate information in an effort to continue the progress made. This level of credibility will lessen the stigma, all while turning once unfamiliar and inexperienced users into educated cannabis advocates.

To read more on this topic, download our free eBook, The Need for Cannabis Education Inside the Dispensary.

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