When it comes to cannabis sales and celebrations, there’s no bigger day of the year than April 20, followed closely by Green Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, when weed fans stock up on flower, edibles, beverages, tinctures and other THC-laced goodies.
But in 2021 so far, a new four-day period has emerged as a bright spot for dispensaries and brands, racking up $90 million in sales on Friday alone, second only to 4/20 as a cash cow, for a whopping $240 million total long-weekend haul, according to cannatech firm Akerna.
And that holiday is…Labor Day. Labor Day?
Since there’s no real history or discernible connection between the $24 billion cannabis industry and this traditional day to honor the American workforce, why is Labor Day special all of the sudden?
It falls at the tail end of summer, a healthy time for weed sales, and there are four full days of receipts to count, industry analysts said.
But those stellar sales indicate an emerging trend: dispensaries and brands are starting to capitalize on every notable date on the calendar—anything that might have its own greeting card—much the same as any other consumer category.
What that means for the upcoming holiday season is that savvy players in the space are likely to unleash a full-court press of marketing programs and limited-edition products for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Hanukkah, Christmas and beyond.
“As the industry matures, there are great opportunities to get net-new customers on mainstream holidays, those that aren’t specific to the cannabis industry,” Michael Blanche, co-founder of mar-tech firm Surfside, told Adweek. “This gives dispensaries and brands another reason to communicate with consumers, build awareness and maintain relevance.”
Many are already doing just that, with dispensaries like Insa recently kicking off a month-long “haunted harvest” at its Salem, Mass., location and launching a stigma-busting campaign around it. Brands like the hot-selling Stiiizy dropped a neon orange vape battery—perfectly pumpkin-colored—and new sour gummies as an adult trick-or-treat ode to the spooky season.
Data-informed marketing strategies
An amped-up focus on holidays is leaning into established consumer behavior, and it’s led at least in part by an influx of marketers from heritage CPG companies into cannabis, Blanche said. For example, The Parent Company, a California-based seed-to-sale brand and retailer with backing from music mogul Jay-Z, recently named former Clorox Co. executive Troy Datcher as its CEO.