Living the Dream: John Oram

John Oram, Ph.D.

CEO and Founder


Oakland, CA

The responsible, adult-use industry has led to the mainstreaming of cannabis and to new, key consumer demographics. Recent studies have shown an increasing percentage of women are using cannabis and will likely be the driving force behind connecting the legal market with the modern wellness market. There has also been a surge in use by baby boomers, with the percentage of adults aged 55-64 rising sevenfold, according to a 2018 federal survey.

With the market progressing at a rapid pace, it’s more crucial than ever for dispensaries to curate a contemporary, hospitality-driven retail experience. Intuitive retail, which focuses on building consumer confidence, comfort and education, has become commonplace in an array of industries. There’s no reason why the shopping experience at a dispensary shouldn’t be as seamless and welcoming as that of a superb wine shop, beauty shop or electronics store. No matter the industry, forging strong relationships and retaining a loyal clientele should be a top priority.

Here are a few ways for both new and veteran dispensaries to elevate the retail experience:

– Budtender education: Attentive and knowledgeable staff can do wonders for shaping a positive retail experience, so make sure budtenders are well-trained on the finer points of hospitality and can effectively explain the variety of cannabis delivery methods to both new and seasoned users. The cannabis market is expanding quickly, so customers of all experience levels should feel comfortable asking questions. Creating a safe and interactive space will also help ensure that guests return to the store if they live locally, or visitors will seek out your product at locations in their home area. Also, consider offering guests individual consultations.

– Store design: The ambiance should reflect the evolving perception of marijuana. If a company has the means, it can be beneficial to partner with an accomplished design firm, but there are also more economical, do-it-yourself steps that can be taken. Make sure the store is well-lit, tidy and welcoming, especially at the entryway — first impressions are important. Spruce up the shop with a fresh coat of paint and reorganize for a sales-friendly layout and contemporary ambiance. Be thoughtful when it comes to showcasing items, arranging products by category, lifestyle or theme.

Following extensive research, discussions and careful consideration, my company, NUG, will be one of the first seed-to-sale brands to open a retail store of our own, located in the recently revitalized Midtown neighborhood of Sacramento, California. We are implementing the principles of intuitive retail to create a safe, accessible space where we can build relationships with our customers. As a vertically integrated company based in Oakland, we are also excited to oversee the entire process, beginning with cultivation and extraction, to now controlling the customer experience. We can ensure our customers are receiving the products the way we’ve always intended. NUG Sacramento is also proud to set an example for the industry at large with a women-led management team. The culture of cannabis companies should be as diverse as the consumer demographics.

It’s an exhilarating time in the responsible, adult-use industry, with products being higher quality than ever before thanks to advanced cultivation, technology and lab techniques. That, paired with the aforementioned expanded customer base and growing mainstream acceptance, means it’s time for dispensaries to set the bar high.

The experience consumers have at their local dispensaries is important and everlasting. And because of the passionate players in the market, I’m confident the industry as a whole is up to the task.


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