2023 Retail, Marketing, and Technology Predictions 

Author: Kingsley Bradley – Senior Account Executive of Surfside

2022 was a pivotal year in cannabis. Three states legalized it on their ballots, a historic Marijuana research bill was passed in the Senate, and President Biden pardoned federal convictions of simple cannabis possession, which will change the lives of thousands of people. All the while, activists, advocates, and organizations continued their missions to build a more inclusive and transparent industry. With all these breakthroughs, there’s still a significant amount of work to move the industry forward, and challenging times are ahead in our post-pandemic world. Here is what’s to come in 2023 and how retailers and brands can prepare:

Discount, but remember to build your brand 

It should be no surprise that retailers have been discounting prices, and expect these discounts to continue next year. Discounts have more than doubled from 7% in June 2017 to 15% in April 2022, per research shared by MJBizDaily. And amid an economic recession, the temptation to discount is even more prevalent. But is this sustainable? This is the question many companies have been asking themselves this past year. With the plethora of federal and regulatory challenges already impacting cannabis companies’ bottom line, the answer is: maybe. Discounting can be a strategy to acquire customers, grow top-line revenue, deplete inventory, and stay competitive, however companies need to activate additional marketing channels for sustainable, long-term growth. It’s critical to differentiate your brand in this increasingly crowded space, and connecting with consumers in a meaningful and personalized way will be essential in 2023. Brands that leverage data and technology to understand who their consumers are and what they care about will be in the best position for long-term success. For ideas on how to build a brand beyond discounts, read this from Surfside: The End of Discounting to Death: How to Build a Cannabis Brand that Lasts

Measurable go-to-market strategies are critical in new markets 

Consolidation is inevitable as the market continues to mature. We will see more companies consolidate to capture market share, access new audiences, and accelerate growth. In addition to consolidation, we will see companies expand their brands into new and emerging markets via licensing deals, a scalable way to capture market share, new audiences, and accelerate growth. With consolidation and market expansion at the forefront for many companies in 2023, companies must have a go-to-market marketing strategy. What consumers want in California isn’t necessarily what they want in Arizona, and with hundreds of products to choose from, the fight for market share is becoming increasingly cutthroat. Launching in a new market takes time, resources, and capital, and there’s little room for error. Marketers must eliminate unmeasurable initiatives and focus their time and budgets on marketing that provide transparent and measurable results. It’s equally critical for license holders to vet potential new partners and ensure they have a sell-through strategy — bonus points for the companies that include cooperative marketing with your retail store. 

Strategic partnerships 

At the top of trending cannabis news last year was Circle K, an international convenience store chain, announcing it had struck a deal with GTI to begin selling cannabis at 10 Florida locations. This is a big deal because consumers can now purchase cannabis alongside their everyday CPG products, and this is what we want to normalize cannabis. Expect to see more partnerships next year and cannabis slowly but surely integrated into more consumers’ everyday lives. 

Tough times yield innovation 

Hundreds of layoffs impacted individuals across all sectors of the cannabis industry in 2022. Many talented people are open to work and ready to make an impact. This will be a year in which new ideas, technology, and solutions emerge and change how we think and operate in cannabis.