The humble cannabis dispensary buyer has one of the most powerful roles in the industry. Acting as a gatekeeper between the entire supply chain and the consumer, buyers decide which products receive coveted shelf space and support from budtenders. Buyers see more brands and endure more pitches than anyone else, and the best of them are hyper-in-tune with what their customers actually want. They’re able to glance at a new product and make confident predictions about how the item will sell.

Buyers are only as good as their response to consumer needs, and those are a fast-moving target. On one end of the scale are increasingly savvy consumers who are looking beyond the THC percentage and mere indica/sativa/hybrid categorization. When weighing their options, they consider things like terpenes, trichomes and minor cannabinoids, bud density, extraction methods, and whether the plant was indoor- or sun-grown. On the other end are new consumers, drawn to edibles and other easy-to-dose, non-inhalable products as they dip their toes into cannabis use. At that buying stage, consumers tend to look for indications of quality and preference (think vegan, gluten-free, fancy packaging, dose-control technology).

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To remain competitive, dispensaries must cater to evolving needs

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