All companies are facing struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic – how to keep paying employees, stay in business, and be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
With the pandemic evolving daily, the situation is having an impact on many cannabis businesses. As they navigate their way through the crisis, they need to make changes to adapt to the new realities if they want to be positioned to flourish once the pandemic subsides.
Embrace e-commerce possibilities
Current social distancing guidelines have forced brick-and-mortar stores to move their businesses online. Consumers are likely to continue to buy products online, even when restrictions are lifted.
Curbside pickup and drive-through lanes offer consumers convenience and as customers recognize their ease of use, they are likely to want to continue to operate in this way.
Businesses should be looking at how to offer a great online experience for customers using technology to support and strengthen their sales. As consumers purchase more online, some companies are finding ways to reward them for doing so, like offering free shipping and payment plans.
Many trade shows, cannabis conferences and expos have been postponed due to the pandemic. This has led to new opportunities for Zoom digital events, pitch panels etc.
Market creatively on social media
In a number of cases, marketing campaigns devised before the pandemic are irrelevant now. Companies, both large and small, have been using social media to highlight charities fighting COVID-19 and rolling out donation programs.
Effective marketing and PR post-pandemic will be important to distinguish credible brands that offer true value from the ones that lack credibility.
Cannabis companies cannot advertise like other companies so they need to be creative and innovative in communicating their identity, building trust and meeting the needs of consumers. These needs are different now than they were even a few months ago.
It is becoming ever more important to have a social media plan and use influencers to increase brand visibility and build a customer base. Instagram-worthy content that helps to educate and entertain followers is just one way to increase engagement. Email marketing and sampling is also becoming more popular.
Many cannabis brands are looking at ways to make their businesses more sustainable and for some, this is not an easy task as cultivation and manufacturing activities lead to much energy and water use, as well as waste production. Customers are looking more than ever for sustainably grown cannabis that comes in eco-friendly packaging and they are even willing to pay more for this.
At Rollyourownpapers.com, we offer custom canna packaging solutions and is taking sustainability seriously. Our printing technology is environmentally friendly as they use the HP10000 printer, which is 100% carbon neutral.
The hemp paper we use is 100% pure hemp. Using hemp is good for the ecosystem as it is quick to grow, requires less water per acre and is easy to replant. Even the gum we use is a 100% natural tree sap from Sudan and not a food emulsifier which destroys the ecosystem.
Assess business models
The current economic crisis is forcing businesses to reassess their business models. Cannabis companies grew quickly and they have not been immune to the business realities of a lack of cash flow and more that can happen despite strong growth.
Companies are now being forced to streamline business processes to manage cash flow and optimize their resources. The pandemic exposed some of the vulnerabilities in the supply chain, especially for companies that sourced their material from overseas markets, such as packaging and vape hardware.
Everything from R&D, agriculture, supply chains and routes to market are coming under scrutiny as companies attempt to identify inefficiencies and put robust practices in place to prevent problems in the future.
Maintain relationships within the industry
One of the complications for the cannabis industry in the midst of the current crisis is that cannabis companies are not able to access coronavirus-related relief available to other mainstream businesses. Added to the complications of their federally illicit status when it comes to banking services, loans and insurance, there is also a lack of access to bankruptcy.
Some companies are looking for larger firms to acquire them and others are considering forming strategic partnerships with other complementary businesses in the industry. It is vital for cannabis businesses to maintain positive relationships going forward with others in their ecosystem. This means information can be shared and ideas generated to future-proof businesses.
Take social responsibility
Cannabis companies are taking social responsibility and doing their part to help the people in society who have been most affected by the pandemic. Some cannabis companies are employing homeless people. At Rollyourownpapers.com, we are breaking away from a mechanical way of think and trying to create opportunities for disabled people.
We employ disabled people to help process rush orders, giving them an opportunity to contribute and build their self-esteem while at the same time providing value to the company which it can pass on to all its customers.
Be aware of the shifting legal landscape
Coronavirus has stalled legalization but industry advocates believe the pandemic may have a long-term positive impact on moving legislation forward. During the outbreak, some states classified medical marijuana dispensaries as essential businesses. This implies a tacit acceptance of the medical benefits of cannabis use.
For now, reputable cannabis companies are providing third-party certification to show customers their products are high quality and do not contain any contaminants, like heavy metals or pesticides. They are also complying with state regulations regarding child-resistant packaging and coming up with innovative ways to ensure compliance and yet not detract from aesthetic appeal.
A final word
To survive the COVID-19 pandemic and be positioned to grow as it subsides, cannabis companies need to reassess and make some changes if necessary. They need to embrace new e-commerce opportunities, market in creative ways, assess their business models and take more social responsibility. In making these changes, they will be sure to remain relevant post-pandemic and grow the cannabis industry in a responsible way.