“Budtenders are the heart of the industry” – a sentiment often shared across retail locations and cannabis brands, yet rarely expanded upon. In order to better understand what drives our industry forward, the Brightfield Group partnered with Spiffy to conduct a budtender survey in Q4 2021 to better understand the influence of Canadian budtenders, and what influences these influencers. While the survey’s results are an in-depth examination of our industry, we at ADCANN have pulled just a few of the major learnings to be discovered in Brightfield’s Canadian budtender study.

The Budtender’s Influencer

While referred to as “the heart of the industry,” just how influential are budtenders? With 71% of customers choosing to shop in person, the vast majority of consumers go through the budtender touch-point to potentially receive a suggestion. Of that 71%, 53% of in-person shoppers do not know what to get, resulting in 76% buying what their budtender recommends. This comes out to budtenders influencing an estimated 30% of all cannabis transactions, leading to budtenders being directly responsible for over $75 million in sales as of November 2021.

Budtenders understand that not every brand is the same in the cannabis space. With 41% of customers reporting that they’re seeking a “premium product”, budtenders find hand-trimmed, fresh, and consistent products with a high level of quality & high level of terpenes, often leading them to recommend smaller, craft brands to their clients, such as MSIKU, Broken Coast, and Qwest.

Brightfield Group Report Screenshot

What Budtender’s Buy

With 80% of Canadian budtenders reporting daily use, understanding what guides their purchases helps paint a full picture of how they form their recommendations and relationships with brands. While 93% of budtenders use THC-dominant products, it’s shown that they engage with most product formats. When choosing a brand, budtenders overwhelmingly value companies with a healthy corporate culture and that have a legacy of quality products, but when it comes to both purchasing a new product and revisiting, the terpene profile and price of the product

Budtenders also show a high-level of brand loyalty. 63% of budtenders indicated that when making a purchase the brand is important to them, with 59% reporting that they would go out of their way in search of certain brands.

Buying the Budtender’s Favor

With the vast majority of Canadian budtenders utilizing their own experience with a brand to make recommendations, how budtender perceive cannabis brands is more important than ever. While 42% of budtenders report they make their purchases themselves to try new products, the only higher response is that they often sample products through a brand’s in-field representative providing the product. This brand rep sampling is then responsible for a 70% incentive to recommend the brand to their client while receiving branded swag provides 50% with incentive. This begs the question: how can brands incentivize their product being recommended without outright purchasing merchandise for budtenders?

According to the data provided by Brightfield’s report, the quality of the product paired with education can lead to as much impact as gifts from the brands. If the product is of high quality with a great aroma and flavor, provides good value, and they’ve received education directly from the brands, this can outweigh the importance of a budtender specifically having good experience when consuming. For maximum return, brands can use platforms such as Reddit & Instagram as well as engage with the cannabis community at sponsored events in order to ensure their product rises to prominence.

With the Brightfield Group’s report, many learnings can be taken and applied by cannabis brands to better understand the budtenders that influence if their product sells out or flops entirely. If you want to see all of the insights from the Canadian budtender study, check out the full report.

For other great insights from our friends at the Brightfield Group, check out some of our articles about Converting Canadian Cannabis Consumers and The Rise of Value Brands in Canada.

Last Updated on March 28, 2022 by ADCANN

William Zorn

William Zorn

Certified Cannabis Sommelier & Twitch Affiliate; William is currently an expert in digital cannabis marketing.