Cannabis consumption lounges, also known as social consumption lounges, are becoming the talk of the industry. Like hookah lounges, but for cannabis, consumption lounges are retail lounges that allow on-site consumption, like smoking, vaping, ingesting edibles and so on.
Similar to bars and hookah lounges, U.S. cannabis consumption lounges must follow a laundry list of strict rules and regulations (shocker, right?) specific to their state and municipality.
Currently, consumption lounges are legal in Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Colorado and California. However, each of these states is at a different point in the process. Some are still giving out licenses to their recreational market (we’re looking at you, New York), some are waiting for municipalities to approve consumption lounges, and others have already opened doors to a few.
If you’re the owner of a cannabis social lounge, you are one of the few people who believe it to be a prime opportunity to compete in a highly saturated market.
You’re also facing off against twice the opponents: municipalities that have just barely accepted dispensaries and those that say consumption lounges increase the risk of driving under the influence, crime and smoke exposure-related health risks.
In other words, you’re up against a storm.
Still, consumption lounges are expected to be big tourist attractions for fans of cannabis and local enthusiasts alike. So, it’s key that you take your marketing seriously if you want to achieve success. Here’s how to market your cannabis consumption lounge:
Craft a well-defined brand for a specific target audience.
This space may be new now, but it could quickly become saturated too. However, as this area of the industry grows, it won’t be surprising to eventually see consumption lounges pop up one after the other.
The key to getting ahead of this impending doom is to niche down. In other words, define exactly what type of brand you want to be and who you want to serve.
There’s a difference between a Starbucks-esque, sit-with-your-laptop kind of social lounge (like SPARC in California) and a sit-back, relax and listen to music while you smoke kind of social lounge.
By crafting a well-defined brand identity for a specific target audience, you’ll not only have an extremely strong marketing foundation, but you’ll also be able to more successfully convert people into long-term customers and fans.
Have a professional, mobile-ready website.
A strong digital presence should be top of mind for any cannabis business. Your website is going to serve as your online home base — and it needs to make an impression. Doing so means designing an on-brand and mobile-ready website that allows your customers to explore your brand from whatever device they’re logged into.
Having a slow, outdated website that you did by yourself might have saved you a buck or two right now. However, having a beautiful, intuitive and UX-friendly website can turn customers into fans — even if you haven’t opened doors yet.
Consider investing in SEO.
What good is it to have a nice website if your customers can’t find you? When they’re out and about and searching for “lounges near me,” your website needs to be at the top of the list.
There is so much that goes into ranking on Google. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the key piece of that puzzle, and it’s an extremely technical and in-depth area of marketing that you can prioritize.
SEO also goes beyond your actual website. For example, you can help with rankings by creating a complete, in-depth Google My Business profile and encouraging customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google Reviews.
Overall, SEO takes some heavy lifting, but it’s worth it — especially when you have a physical location.
Consider investing in SEO.
We see the eye roll. While social media might have it out for cannabis businesses, it still remains one of the best ways to build relationships with customers.
Social media users actually like to interact with brands and see what they’re up to. Having an engaging, community-centric presence can help you generate excitement around your brand and potentially even drive foot traffic.
Due to the complex platform policies, try not to focus on the actual cannabis part of your consumption lounge. Here are some ideas you could try instead:
• Highlight loyal customers or staff.
• Share fun conversations or interactions that happen.
• Emphasize lounge community events, like open mic night or deals on your food offerings.
• Show lounge tours and what to expect videos.
Moreover, when you build a social media presence around non-cannabis elements of your consumption lounge, you’ll protect yourself from the risk of getting shut down and you’re more likely to build an engaged following.
Engage in local strategic partnerships.
While digital marketing has taken the industry by storm, don’t forget that you have a brick-and-mortar location. Strategic partnerships are a great way to market your consumption lounge to your locale.
For instance, you can team up with local businesses for cross-promotional opportunities. You could find a treasure trove of singers, poets, comedians and other individuals in your town to perform. You could even partner with vendors and other cannabis brands who want to have their products featured in your lounge.
The opportunities are endless and can create powerful word-of-mouth marketing for your consumption lounge.
The future of social cannabis is here.
As cannabis consumption lounges start to gain approval across the industry, it’s important to leverage your first-to-market advantage.
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By crafting a targeted brand, having a beautifully designed website, investing in SEO, engaging on social media and building strategic partnerships in your community, you can easily achieve long-term success.
It’s easy to see that the future of cannabis will be in the hands of those who know how to market their businesses effectively and truly seek to serve their audience. With these marketing tips in mind, you’re sure to pave the way for your cannabis consumption lounge success.