Budtender Survey 2023: O2O & Brightfield’s Most Interesting Findings

In the ever-evolving world of cannabis, budtenders serve as the knowledgeable guides for consumers, helping them navigate a vast array of products. Their expertise and recommendations play a crucial role in shaping consumer preferences and influencing brand choices. 


Brightfield Group and O2O’s recent survey explored the minds of budtenders, uncovering some intriguing facts that shed light on their decision-making process. In this blog post, we'll explore the most interesting survey findings of our study of Canadian budtenders and discuss the implications for the cannabis industry.


Swag's Impact on Brand Recommendations:

Surprisingly, a staggering 52% of budtenders revealed that swag (promotional merchandise) has a significant impact on their brand recommendations. This finding suggests that effective marketing campaigns, offering appealing and high-quality promotional items, can positively influence budtenders' perceptions of a brand. It highlights the importance of strategic branding and creative promotional initiatives to capture the attention of budtenders and, consequently, their customers.


Personal Sampling, Experience Matters:

Approximately 73% of budtenders emphasized the importance of personally trying a product before recommending it to customers. This statistic underscores the significance of providing budtenders with opportunities to sample and experience brand products. Leveraging the Budtender Surprise and Delight events or driving budtenders to “Send a Message” on O2O could be a great way to manage product samples for brands in the future, leading to authentic and credible budtender recommendations and ultimately increased customer satisfaction. 

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Budtender Education with Interactive Sales Tools:

The survey results reinforce the necessity of educating budtenders and providing them with effective sales tools. The Budtender Training App, new to O2O, empowers budtenders with comprehensive knowledge about different products, strains, and consumption methods. By investing in continuous education and arming budtenders with the right tools, brands can ensure that their products are suggested with expertise and confidence. After all, budtenders report that 80% of consumers buy what is recommended to them. 


Innovative Marketing Strategies for Cannabis Retailers:

The survey also touched upon retailer marketing preferences, highlighting strategies that capture consumer attention and translate to sales. Some notable recommendations include in-store posters and pull-ups, bundled kits for holidays, contests targeting both budtenders and consumers, and the use of digital media assets. 


In review, when it comes to POS and merchandising, budtenders prefer strain cards and sell sheets but believe consumers benefit most from digital screens, posters, and shelf talkers/displays. Implementing these creative marketing approaches can establish strong connections with budtenders, ensuring that brands remain top-of-mind in-store and online. 


Terpenes Gaining Power:

From the previous budtender study in 2021 to the current 2023 study, “terpene profile” became a larger driver of budtender product trials. There’s a strong connection to be formed when a budtender spends their own money on your brand and loves it enough to consistently recommend it. 


But terpene profile is a relatively complex cannabis concept continuing to emerge across markets. Seeing their importance increase with budtenders is a good indicator that consumer adoption of terpene-defined effects (rather than indica/sativa categorization) could be on the horizon as well. 


What’s also interesting is that “good terpene profile” is the most common determinant of whether cannabis is premium - more than three times more important than high THC percentage. Budtenders want to know what “terps” they are smoking on and how to reccomend products based on terpenes. They also told us in the study that more information on terepene profile effects would make it easier to recommend a product. The bottom line: its no joke that cannabis is becoming “all about the terps.” 

Don’t Cross a Budtender:

When we asked cannabis store employees how they react when they don’t enjoy a brand’s product, 48% of them told us they’d be unlikely to give that brand a second chance. Budtenders are the biggest cannabis brand ambassadors, and for nearly half of budtenders, a brand only gets one shot to impress - or at least not disappoint. 


Budtenders are often among the most knowledgeable consumers. They’ll have a keen eye for what is genuinely premium verses budget and what a luxury edible should taste like versus the standard distillate gummy. 

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The Brands they Love and the Brands they Don’t:

The findings from the Canadian budtender study provide a fascinating view of where Canada’s top cannabis brands live in the minds of budtenders. While we often think of cannabis brand health in terms of how consumers view brands, budtenders’ perceptions get at the wider conversations being had about a given brand. Consumers have little choice but to look to cannabis store associates to get education on brands, giving budtenders power over perceptions.


The top brands budtenders recommend include:

  • General Admission
  • 1964
  • Simply Bare

The survey findings provide valuable insights into the world of budtenders and their influence on brand recommendations. By recognizing the importance of budtenders as brand advocates and tailoring marketing efforts to their preferences, cannabis brands can forge stronger connections and thrive in this rapidly expanding industry.

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Published: 5/30/2023