We have sommeliers for wine – why not concierges for cannabis at retail shops?

Cannabis is a complicated market for consumers but not nearly enough dispensaries are staffed with experts to provide the right advice

There are nearly 800 strains of cannabis available on the legal market, with more being cultivated all the time. On top of that, there are countless formulations of edibles, tinctures and other cannabis products.

Like the wine industry, cannabis is a complicated market for consumers. In the wine industry, sommeliers guide consumers into making choices based on region, vintage and other attributes. Cannabis is primed for a similar approach, but not nearly enough dispensaries are staffed with the sort of experts to provide it.

For new cannabis consumers, purchasing product can be a daunting experience. Indica, sativa or hybrid? Flower or concentrate? How much of this candy bar are they supposed to eat? The choices can be overwhelming, and they’re compounded by the gnawing fear that getting the answers wrong will lead to money wasted on a bad experience.

Well-intentioned budtenders do their best to guide the shopping experience, but their advice is almost exclusively based on subjective experience and often delivered while simply trying to make a sale (maybe even a sale of a particular product that’s been on the shelf too long) and keep the line moving. It’s not an ideal situation for consumers.

The retail cannabis industry is ripe for customer service and expert advice provided by certified cannabis concierges.

A cannabis concierge isn’t trying to make a sale; they’re trying to educate. The main goal will be talking with consumers about their cannabis experiences, getting an understanding of what they like and of what kind of high they are looking to achieve.

This is the sort of in-depth conversation that even the best-intentioned budtender is unlikely to have time for. The goal of a cannabis concierge will be to develop a familiarity with customers that allows them to take a deeper dive into personal options.

Consultations with a cannabis concierge could be taken beyond the point of sale and by appointment.

Cannabis expertise is in growing demand. More than 100 terpenes have been isolated in the cannabis plant, and researchers are still investigating the unique effects of each. As the science becomes more complicated, that number is certain to grow.

The expert cannabis concierge must be a blend of scientist, sommelier and listener.

It should be a coveted position with significant amounts of training, including schools and certifications. And all of this is good for the cannabis market.

Expertise adds legitimacy to any subject, and despite the amazing strides over the past decade there’s still a long way to go before the plant truly receives the respect it deserves.

Vladimir Parkanski is CEO of Matchbox Cannabis.


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