While the trade show space is nothing new to businesses, the cannabis industry is still fairly unfamiliar due to federal prohibition and the fact that some states are slow to legalize recreational use. No matter how much of a new or seasoned entrepreneur you are, cannabis trade shows are a great place to see new products, connect with industry professionals, and build brand awareness.
To help you be as prepared as possible, Leaf Retailer has provided a checklist of everything you need for a cannabis trade show and what you can expect. First things first, here is exactly what you should bring with you to your next event:
- Business Cards. These are great to hand out when meeting new brands or potential suppliers, especially if you want to follow up with someone after the event and build a business relationship.
- A Notepad and Pen. Even though you can still type or record notes on your phone, sometimes it is easier and faster to just take out a pen and notepad and write down specific products or trends you are interested in and would like to revisit once you are back home.
- A Power Bank. Get ready to spend the entire day at the trade show, so be sure to bring a power bank to keep your phone/tablet/laptop charged throughout the day.
- Snacks. Again, be prepared to spend the entire day at a trade event, and sometimes meals are not always included with your ticket. Keep some snacks in your bag to help you stay energized throughout the day.
- Hand Sanitizer. You are going to be shaking thousands of hands during the trade show, and since COVID is still hanging around, it is best to play it safe and sanitize after every encounter.
- A Folder or Small Bag. Be prepared to receive many different informational handouts and business cards from other brands, and unless you want to dig them all out of your backpack at a later date, you can easily keep everything organized with a folder or small bag.
- Water Bottle. As obvious as this seems, you are sure to get thirsty walking around and talking all day long. In case there are no vending machines nearby, and to save yourself a little extra cash, keep a water bottle handy to hydrate whenever you need.
What Can You Expect at a Cannabis Trade Show?
Similarly to other business-to-business trade shows, cannabis events involve seeing products that exhibitors have on display, networking with industry professionals, listening in on seminars and keynote speakers, and sometimes special events for everyone to have fun and get to know one another, such as a cocktail hour. The main difference between the two is that cannabis trade shows are centered on all things related to the plant. Here are just some things you can see and experience when attending a cannabis trade event:
Probably one of the main reasons to attend a trade show, this aspect is great for seeing and learning about new strains, new combinations of cannabinoids, new flavors, and the like. While it may be exciting to try some of these new items, be aware that most venues will not allow the consumption of THC on their premises, even if cannabis is legal in the state in which they are operating.
Specialized machinery plays a big part in growing cannabis, and if you are a business owner dealing with this aspect of the process, you are sure to find vendors offering everything from vertical grow solutions to flash freezing technology to LED lighting and everything else in between. This presents a great opportunity to learn about new technology that can help the plants to grow better or to better control the environment around them.
Any item that is used to inhale or ingest cannabis falls into this category. You may see this called “paraphernalia,” but this term is not well-regarded, as it has a negative connotation to it. The word accessories, however, covers a wide array of all kinds of items used to consume cannabis, including classics like glass pipes, innovative “smart” vaporizers, or all the other items necessary to prepare cannabis for consumption and store it for later.
Secondary Events Aside From the Trade Show
Along with the trade show itself, many organizations host cocktail hours or mixers before or after show hours so everyone can mingle and make business connections. While you can still make connections during show hours, it can sometimes get too busy to have a one-on-one conversation with someone and these events provide a more relaxed atmosphere. Attending them can greatly increase your brand awareness.
Do Not Expect to See Everything
Thousands of brands and manufacturers come to cannabis trade shows, and with a variety of educational sessions, events, and booths to visit, it can feel overwhelming and exhausting to try and see every little thing. Do not stress yourself out because there are so many cannabis trade events happening throughout the year, so if you do not get to see everything at one show, be sure to attend another one to get even more experience and knowledge. You can check the Leaf Retailer website to see a list of upcoming cannabis trade shows in your area and be fully prepared.
When attending a cannabis trade show, the most important thing to remember is to relax, have fun, and keep an open mind. As the industry continues to grow, more trade event opportunities will arise. Keep this page bookmarked so you can take a quick look before each event and make sure you are fully prepared for the next experience.