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Beyond Key Holidays: Building Impactful Dispensary Promotions with a 5-Peak Calendar

cannabis retail marketing magic Apr 01, 2024

Picture this: You launch what you think is a killer cannabis dispensary promotion, but crickets. No buzz, no sales. Ouch. You teased and promoted it on all your channels. You trained your in-store teams. Your vendor partners even supported you. 


So what’s the culprit? Bad timing.


Achieving consistent growth in the competitive landscape of cannabis retail requires extensive planning. Attracting new customers, driving repeat visits, and increasing basket size is equally important for long-term success.


How do you create dispensary promotions that deliver on one or all of these business-building objectives? By creating a promotional calendar.  This one calendar becomes a comprehensive roadmap to strategically aligning your team's efforts and budget. A cannabis retail promotional calendar helps drive sales and maximize the effectiveness of your dispensary promotional efforts, ensuring that your team works collaboratively towards your common business objectives.


At Vetrina, we understand the unique challenges and opportunities cannabis retailers face in the marketing and promotional space. Securing budgets, optimizing marketing channels, and setting realistic yet ambitious goals are crucial steps toward growth and market leadership.


By recognizing the importance of holidays and effectively integrating them into your plans, you can maximize your business's success and customer engagement.

What Importance Do Key Holidays Play in Cannabis Retail?

Key holidays are predictable peaks in consumer spending throughout the year. These seasonal peaks in consumer spending present an opportunity to drive traffic, increase repeat visits, and increase average basket size. But in the ever-competitive cannabis retail landscape, simply recognizing these holidays isn't enough.

How Different Holidays Affect Different Industries

While some holidays universally impact all retailers,  others may have varying effects depending on the industry.  For instance, Valentine's Day creates opportunities for businesses in the floral, chocolate, and jewelry sectors and back-to-school season is crucial for retailers in the education and stationery industries.

Understanding the specific holidays most relevant to your industry allows you to tailor your sales strategies accordingly. Capitalizing on occasions that align with your products or services can drive sales and effectively reach your target audience.

Introducing the Five Peaks Approach: 

This strategic framework is more than layering promotions on top of key holidays.  A five-peak promotions calendar is a roadmap to maximize your impact and achieve consistent growth throughout the year. 

Your cannabis dispensary can use the Vetrina five-peak approach to create a well-organized promotional calendar. With a strategic plan, you can secure supporting media and advertising budgets, optimize marketing channels, and set achievable (if not ambitious) goals, ensuring everyone in the business is on the same page. *Round of applause for collaboration!*

What tools and strategies will you need to develop a strategic calendar that aligns with all these considerations? Let’s dig in.

The Power of Five Peak Promotional Calendar:

The Five Peaks Approach identifies five key periods throughout the year to strategically deploy major promotions. This ensures your dispensary remains top-of-mind during peak cannabis customer spending occasions. 

Five peaks align perfectly with the average frequency of visits for cannabis customers, which is 8 visits every 45 days. With the ultimate aim of bringing customers back into your store at least twice per quarter. The thought being, you need to create at least one major promotion once a quarter (and two during the holiday seasons).

Here are some prime examples of buying occasions to capitalize on:

  • Seasonal Consumer Spending: Holidays like the Superbowl, Memorial Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Week all present opportunities for increased consumer spending. Create promotions that resonate with the festive atmosphere and shareable products.
  • Gifting Moments: Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day are ideal times to target customers seeking thoughtful presents. Tailor promotions to resonate with seasonal themes to expand reach.
  • Industry Days: Celebrate industry-specific events like 4/20 and 7/10 to connect with your cannabis community. Offer industry-specific promotions to create a sense of community among your customers.
  • Category-Specific Shopping Occasions: Use seasonal trends to signal your understanding of customer consumption habits. For example, emphasize 'on the go' and shareable outdoor products in summer and indoor consumption products like edibles and vapes in winter.
  • Local Events: Consider local festivals, concerts, or sporting events that align with your brand. Develop targeted promotions to tap into your local community’s potential influx of customers.

Building a Sustainable Foundation:

The Five Peaks Approach isn't about immediate sales but building a sustainable foundation for long-term growth.  Each peak is an opportunity to attract new customers who become the foundation for greater growth during subsequent peaks. This layered approach creates a ripple effect, continually growing your customer base and driving increased sales and long-term business growth.

Focus and Collaboration:

Regular fine-tuning of the marketing calendar (every 6-8 weeks) and monthly departmental meetings are crucial for ensuring alignment and fostering collaboration.

Building Your Calendar:

Ready to jump in?  Here's how to create your own Five Peaks Promotional Calendar:

  1. Map Your Peaks: Identify key consumer spending occasions, industry-specific days, holidays, local events, and other relevant dates. Plan promotions around these peaks to capitalize on heightened customer engagement.
  2. Embrace Seasonality: Align promotions with seasonal trends and consumer behaviors. Tailor offerings to meet the needs and preferences of customers during different times of the year.
  3. Know Your Audience: Define and understand your different customer segments. Tailor promotions to specific demographics or preferences within the cannabis consumer base.
  4. Diversify Promotions: Determine the types of promotions you want to feature, such as discounts, bundle deals, limited-time offers, or loyalty programs. Mix and match promotion types to keep your calendar fresh and engaging.
  5. Product Focus: Highlight specific product categories or individual products in each promotion. Showcase new arrivals or popular items to keep customers excited and curious.

Beyond the Basics:  Additional tips to consider

What are a few additional tips when making your cannabis retail promotional calendar?

  • Diversify Your Marketing: Explore marketing channels beyond Weedmaps to reach a broader audience and mitigate platform-specific challenges. Consider shifting focus towards delivering a fantastic customer experience, a key driver of sustainable growth.
  • Realistic ROAS: Reassess and set realistic expectations for Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) on platforms like Weedmaps. Recognize the cost of diminishing returns and avoid overspending.
  • Strategic Calendar: Implement a Five Peaks calendar, aligning promotions with consumer spending occasions to drive

In our Vetrina 100 Cannabis Retail Course, we provide a downloadable promotional calendar template that you can fill out. 

If this blog has sparked your interest in getting started and learning more about building a profitable promotions plan, including understanding when and why to use discounts, markdowns, and promotions, then using this template could be the quickest way to prepare your marketing plan for the upcoming year.

If you want to develop your own, a reliable option is to use a tool like Excel to track promotions and ROI.

Recognizing Cultural and Religious Holidays

Cultural and religious holidays are vital in retail, especially in diverse communities. Observances like Diwali, Hanukkah, or Lunar New Year are significant for specific demographics. Recognizing and respecting these holidays by incorporating relevant promotions or events can help foster inclusivity and strengthen relationships with your customer base.

Conduct customer research to ensure you know the cultural and religious holidays that impact your target audience. By embracing diversity and celebrating these occasions, you can make your business more inviting and attractive to many customers.

Furthermore, collaborating with local community organizations or cultural groups to understand the traditions and customs of different holidays can provide unique opportunities for cross-promotion and community engagement in an authentic way. Building partnerships based on shared values and mutual respect can enhance your brand's reputation and visibility during key holidays. 

Adjusting Your Inventory for Holiday Demand

During holidays, the demand for certain products may drastically increase. To take full advantage of this opportunity, preparing for key holidays is important. As the holiday season approaches, cannabis retailers must prepare to meet the surge in demand.

But how do inventory buyers avoid the dreaded ‘sitting on seasonal products past their prime or’, even worse, forgetting to increase purchases to align with festive demand?

To capitalize on holiday demand, cannabis retailers should prioritize popular products and analyze sales data from previous seasons to make informed inventory decisions. This data-driven approach instills confidence in decision-making and helps meet the surge!

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Your Promotional Strategy

The holidays have come and gone, leaving a flurry of gift bags, twinkling lights, and... maybe a lingering question mark. Did the promotional campaign you meticulously crafted actually translate to results? Did they meet your business objectives and drive the results you and the team were looking for?

At Vetrina, we understand this concern. We all want our holiday promotions to be joyous occasions for both customers and our bottom line.  Enter the concept of Promotional Lift. Promotional Lift, also known as "lift," is a metric that measures the success of a promotional campaign. It shows how much a particular promotion or offer has helped increase sales compared to what would normally happen without the promotion.

What is a Promotional Lift?

Many cannabis retailers and brands launch promotions with the rosy hope of a windfall, picturing overflowing shopping carts and a surge of new customers. But the reality? Often, the effectiveness of these campaigns remains shrouded in mystery. Did those flashy flyers translate to sales?  Were they a dud, relying more on gut instinct than data to guide strategy?

Here's where Promotional Lift steps in, acting as a beacon in the fog. It's more than just measuring sales figures; it's a potent tool that unlocks the true impact of your efforts.

  • Optimizing for Growth:  Armed with lift data, you can concentrate promotional strategies on those with the greatest impact. Tweak timing, frequency, and channel to maximize value for your cannabis customers.
  • Resource Revolution:  Promotional Lift helps you allocate resources with laser focus. By identifying the promotions that generate the most "lift" you can concentrate your budget and efforts on the most lucrative campaigns.
  • Competitive Edge: Knowing which promotions engage best with your customers informs benchmark versus industry standards and future promotions
  • Customer Clarity:  Promotional Lift isn't just about sales; it's about understanding your customers. It can reveal valuable insights into their behaviour, highlighting which products perform and which ones don’t.

Calculating Promotional Lift involves some data analysis wizardry, but the basic idea is straightforward. If you’d like to learn more about Promotional Lift, check out this blog. 

Forget about simply throwing promotions at random holidays.

Consistent growth in cannabis retail requires strategic planning.  Forget about simply throwing promotions at random holidays. The Five Peaks Approach is a strategic roadmap, ensuring your dispensary maximizes its impact and achieves consistent growth year-round.  This framework goes beyond holidays, creating a well-organized promotional calendar.  With Vetrina's Five Peaks, you can secure budgets, optimize marketing channels, and set achievable (yet ambitious!) goals.  

This ensures everyone in your business is working together towards the same goal making it a win all around - for teamwork and your bottom line!

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