One of the best ways to grow your business is to give stuff away. Companies are always on the lookout for the best possible advertising strategy. We, the consumers, are always bombarded with promotional material and freebies at events, tradeshows, and concerts.Coming home with a bunch of free items is something we always look forward to. And we are much more likely to buy something that we have tried before because, well, we have already tried and liked it. According to The Psychology of Persuasion, a book by Robert Cialdini, when someone gives us something for free, we feel obligated to give something back. This phenomenon is called Reciprocation (1).
Reciprocation is heavily used by all industries. Sephora has their entire store designed to lure makeup lovers into trying their products for free. Costco, one of the most infamousexamplesof free samples, combine Reciprocation with Positive Association, so customers will want to keep coming back. Those maternal figures serving you chicken nuggets are not just there to drive sales, they are also literally there to make you happy.
Why then, is the Cannabis industry not allowed to exercise this same marketing strategy? California Prop. 64: Business &Professional Code 26153, states: “A licensee shall not give away any amount of cannabis or cannabis products, or any cannabis accessories, as part of a business promotion or other commercial activity” (2). This measure prevents a dispensary from giving their customers any samples of their products. This specific prohibition against Cannabis products seems unfair and retaliatory considering we have precedence to the contrary with other industries in the category of Age-restricted products. We can sample beer, wine, or tequila with a valid ID. Restaurants with a liquor license can give you some for free. Consumers are legally allowed to sample “not more than three tastings to any individual in one day” (3). If a dispensary is legal and allowed to sell Cannabis in California, why, then, does this policy not extend to them?