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Understanding Cannabis Shelf Appeal

If you are a relatively new dispensary-goer, it’s important to understand the shelf appeal behind the cannabis products you buy to get what you pay for. We dive into it in this article.

Jason SanderJason Sander · Apr. 28, 2021 · 4 min read
Understanding Cannabis Shelf Appeal

Getting your medical card or living in a state that legalizes for adult consumption is exciting. However, If you visit a dispensary, it’s important to understand the shelf appeal behind what you’re buying to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.

Never judge a book by its cover - you’ve no doubt heard this adage before. The same holds true when it comes to purchasing cannabis at a dispensary. Some consumers don’t examine the products they are buying any further than seeing fancy packaging with sleek designs. Sometimes, these products are sold to mask the fact that they’re less than stellar quality - which is one of the driving forces behind the vape crisis of 2019.

These less than reputable manufacturers use this packaging to disguise their products and act as a distraction from what the customer really wants to buy. So, how important is understanding the shelf appeal of the cannabis products you buy at dispensaries? Let’s get into it.

The Truth Behind Why Products Are Appealing

When you purchase flower at a dispensary, display jars are carefully selected, and so are the tasty-looking buds that are inside of them. This is a strong marketing tool that can lure unsuspecting customers into buying less than stellar products, or ones that they weren’t intending on purchasing at all.

And this marketing tactic isn’t unique to the cannabis world, quite the opposite actually. In fact, the winemakers have been cashing in on the fact that even the most knowledgeable wine drinkers often buy bottles simply based on what the label looks like. According to a Gallup poll, this is true for a surprising two-thirds of regular wine consumers polled.

When it comes to eye-candy, sexy packaging and shelf appeal are amplified by the fact that we live in a visually-driven world thanks to social media. For some retailers, shelf appeal can be the biggest factor in their bottom line.

Buying Experience and Craft Quality

What’s the reason why craft breweries continue to pop up in many locations and thrive even though they only make up about a quarter of the U.S. beer market? Whether true or not, craft beer should be higher-quality than its mass-produced counterparts. The experience one gets at a local brewery is personalized and enjoyable.

The same sentiment holds true for dispensaries and locally grown, sustainably sourced cannabis. What makes a dispensary-going experience memorable is the pleasant and helpful customer service experience and the fact that you get exactly what you want - affordable, high-quality products. This is the best way to build customer loyalty and ensure return buyers for dispensaries, not slick packaging and marketing gimmicks.

"What makes a dispensary-going experience memorable is the pleasant and helpful customer service experience and the fact that you get exactly what you want - affordable, high-quality products. This is the best way to build customer loyalty and ensure return buyers for dispensaries, not slick packaging and marketing gimmicks."

Going Deeper Than Appealing Appearances

With this in mind, what’s the best way for cannabis consumers to get the products they want without falling for slick labels and eye candy? The same way you get a better understanding of the food you buy at the grocery store - carefully read the labels. If you’re looking for products that are higher in CBD, but the labels don’t contain this information - this is a red flag.

Most reputable cannabis producers must break down the cannabinoid content of what they’re selling. Most consumers want to know the THC to CBD ratio of what they are spending their hard-earned money on. Some products will also provide information about secondary cannabinoids like CBN or CBG.

What’s That Smell?

If a budtender at a dispensary doesn’t allow you to open a jar and smell the nugs that are inside, this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. However, it can be for more experienced consumers. The attractiveness of cannabis flower is based largely on how it smells - driven mostly by the wonderful world of terpenes. For more information on the compounds that give cannabis varieties their unique taste and aroma, check out our terpenes 101 beginner’s guide.


Additionally, some of the best flower is packed with delightfully frosty little hairs and crystals that can be found on cannabis flower. Trichomes are the powerhouse of the cannabis plant and are what give us the myriad of benefits that come with this versatile medicine. Our complete guide on trichomes is right here.

Bottom Line, It’s Worth Your Time

Cannabis consumers, especially newer ones, have a lot to take into account when making their purchase. It’s tempting even for the most knowledgeable consumers to grab what looks good to them and be on their way. However, it’s well worth your time to take as close of a look as possible to get the product that not only looks great but also makes you feel great too.

HashDash - Building Community Around Cannabis Education

We hope you found value in our content about shelf appeal at dispensaries. We’d love to hear your input! Check us out on our social - @hashdash on all platforms, except for Instagram, where we are @hashdashdotcom.

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HashDash is building a database that answers all your questions - from cannabis 101 to in-depth guides for more advanced consumers. You’ll definitely want to sign up for HashDash to discover your cannabis matches.

Thanks for reading! Happy consuming!

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.




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