Many seniors, maybe including your own father, could benefit from cannabis. Cultivate the empathy and understanding to reach them on their own terms.
June 15, 2019 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
With Father’s Day approaching, I could pull out all the stops to market my brand to every single father in the Seattle area, but that would be a demographic and logistical nightmare. Instead, my team and I work very hard to know our customers (KYC), an acronym we ironically stole from the banking world. Rather than take a blanket approach we market directly to the dads who actually shop in our store, and when it comes to engaging elderly fathers we employ the same empathy and understanding that it took me to market cannabis to my own father.
My dad was a hippie and therefore a frequent pot user in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. Following his flower child moment, he went completely clean – no alcohol or drugs of any sort – and he’s been that way for the past 40 years. Two years ago, however, he had a heart attack that almost killed him. The recovery meds his doctors had prescribed were opiate infused and kept him in bed, rather than pushing him towards recovery. Depression started settling in. He couldn’t sleep. It was heartbreaking and I knew cannabis was a better solution and could help break the cycle. Our “cannabis conversation” was very simple, though thoughtful, and went a little something like this:
“Dad, please eat an edible with me and Nick (my fiance). We can all just sit and watch the thunderstorm and hang out on the porch together. Please?”
“Okay, I’ll try it,” he said.
And that was it — a conversion made! He dumped the pharma meds immediately. The truth is, he had also been unnerved by the pharma recovery meds from the start and was ready for something different. What my fiance and I did was propose a solution on his terms in an environment where he is the most comfortable. It helped tremendously that I know just about everything about the man.
The three of us had so much fun that night. Once the edible took effect, my dad had no more pain or anxiety. We could converse and laugh at each other’s jokes, just like the old days. Best of all, he slept like a baby that night and has ever since. He now takes one edible per day and has become one of three very important buyer personas in my brand’s marketing toolkit.
Who then are the three most popular senior citizen dad personas my team engages with regularly? And how can an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry capture their attention this Father’s Day?
1. The Aged Athlete
Do you know this guy? Incredible, right? He still rock-and-ice climbs, well into his 70’s. He is the club tennis champion. He still good with a chain saw. However, at the end of each day now his knees hurt. His shoulders hurt. His back hurts. He could use a bit of CBD and THC love to take those pains away and reduce his inflammation.
If you manufacture or sell any product, such as capsules or edibles, that fall into the 1:1 or even 25:1 category in terms of CBD to THC dosage percentages, Father’s Day might be one of the only times he slows down enough for you to capture his attention and then motivate him to give cannabis solutions a shot.
2. The Tin Man
This is my dad. He has a doctorate degree in radioactive isotope geochemistry, but then he went and devoted his professional career to reforming the state of Idaho’s mental health and rehabilitation hospitals. In retirement, he spends three hours a day meditating in a meadow on a hill overlooking the home of my parents in Idaho. He has one of the closest relationships with God that I have ever witnessed, yet claims he is not a religious man. My dad wants to be active, but he has a big, broken heart.
He is a full believer in cannabis’ benefits today. And as a result, he is starting to seek out higher quality edible products, an important trend that should be noted by the reader. He and his ilk could eventually drive the growing craft edibles category.
The Dying Father
All I can say here is…life is just really hard sometimes. We have had customers visit us who required a chair in our showroom, simply because they were having a hard time standing up. Perhaps they had just come from a chemo session? Maybe they were recovering from a difficult surgery? Or maybe they were just in that much pain?
This personna is one that typically requires the type of assistance that a retail or product brand may not be accustomed to providing. It requires real caring, and listening. Those entrepreneurs who live their business and personal lives with ethos, who are in this game for more than just the opportunity to make a buck, won’t need to adjust to sell solutions to this personna. They are already acting in the right manner. Those minus ethos might want to look into some sensitivity training. It is not an audience that will forgive you twice. Nor should they.
Regardless of how well your brand address each of the many personna’s related to Father’s Day cannabis promotions, there is still an elephant in the room — the undecided. For whatever reason, there are a number of elderly dad’s out there who could benefit greatly from cannabis, but haven’t taken the plunge to actually try it. My own dad required a direct invitation from me. We are now both very thankful he listened to me. Some may require just a gentle nudge, while others might want further research from credible sources. Some, sadly, will never abandon their opiates.
It doesn’t matter where they fall on the spectrum though. When in doubt, market to them on Father’s Day as if they were your own dad. Don’t insult them. Get to know their needs and cater to them. They deserve that level of respect.
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