Everyone loves to talk about their target demographic.  

Every time I go to a trade show (of any sort), conference, or even a business networking cocktail party, the words “target demographic” get tossed around quite a bit.  While I have no objection to the term, it strikes me as odd sometimes just how little people understand the meaning, or if they know what it really means, how to use it to advantage. 

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Before we go any further, I want to define how a target demographic is determined, what you – your business, your brand, your product line – should be looking at when determining your target, and how you can divide a demographic into multiple cohorts and leverage your marketing collateral.  

In a broad sense, you may recognize that your target is the group of people that you want to have buy your product or buy products from your business.  However, owning a dispensary in Redding is a vastly different situation than owning a delivery service in Phoenix, or a grey market store front in Vancouver.  BUT…  marketing to the same demographic group in any of those locations should mean putting a local spin on an overall concept. 

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You can sort your cohorts into a variety of groups – by gender, by age, by ‘attitude’ (you know – soccer mom, retiree, new & curious, old time stoner, whatever you want to use as your labels is a personal decision, since most of your marketing materials won’t be calling people out by name.  

Horses for courses. 

If you tend to skew towards an older demographic, congratulations!  The baby boomers and Gen-X folks have the largest amount of disposable income, and are likely to be the ones most inclined to pay full price at a legitimate dispensary or from a licensed delivery service.  They aren’t post-black market consumers, and they probably have no idea what the prices on product were like before legalization.

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These customers are looking for a clean, comfortable, upscale experience.  Tactile packaging, clean graphics and bold messaging – these “Restoration Hardware/Banana Republic/yoga pants” people have a good bit of disposable income and are more than willing to pay top dollar to feel good about what they are buying.  

If this is your neighborhood, that’s awesome!  Plan your marketing strategies around brand building and name recognition – not so much for the strain of bud, but more for the accessories like vapes and storage, or for the brand names of edibles, tinctures and topicals.   You can overlap your marketing and advertising because this target demographic is determined by curiosity and the fact that states are passing rec legal laws. 

Still in medical use?  That’s great!

If you’re still an MMJ purveyor, good for you!  MMJ products tend to be stronger, the allowable purchase amounts are higher, and the MMJ consumer is usually very well educated, and willing to pay a bit more for a “medical grade” product line.  

Advertising and marketing angles for this target demographic are simple – treat the plant as a medical product.  Provide the information that any other medicine would have available.  Keep your facility light, modern, and not too “homey”.  I’m not saying make it look like a doctor’s office, but I am saying that you’re not likely to want or need that much barn wood in the decor. 

Hanging with the hippies from way back?

These guys are tough.  They’ve been buying black market forever, and they have some seriously firm ideas about price points.  However, if your product quality is better than the average flower floating around, then you can potentially market on price points to this target demographic.  It’s a crappy way to run a business, but if you happen to be in a geographic location where you don’t have the soccer moms, the retirees, or the upscale medical consumers, then you pretty much have to just play the hand you were dealt.  

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No matter your customer base, identifying the people that you would like to be selling to, and then making sure they exist within your geographic ability to service them is a big step in deciding how to position yourself and what the next steps are to go about that.  

Frankly, putting in a ton of cement tile, barn wood and pendant lighting is a waste of time if you have a target demographic that doesn’t respond to that approach.  On the flip side, cheaping out and going all spartan with plastic chairs, previously owned fixtures you snagged on craigslist, and a sloppy coat of off white paint is not going to be a winner with prospective customers who did expect to see something light and modern that makes them feel all warm and fuzzy about their purchase.  

It pays to do a little research first and make sure you actually know who your current customers are, and who you want your next customers to be.