Owned data is critical to marketing campaigns, and cannabis-industry marketing is no different. But evolving consumer behaviors, privacy concerns, and new regulations have changed the game. As companies increasingly move away from third-party data, a newer, cost-effective tool has become a major force in campaigns and personalization efforts: zero-party data.
Zero-party data (ZPD) is data collected by a brand, directly and willingly from the consumer. The consumer is aware of what they’re being asked and chooses to answer. ZPD can help companies eliminate privacy concerns, build more personal relationships with customers, and overcome the marketing obstacles cannabis companies face.
Marketers use first-party and zero-party data in tandem, gathering information directly from consumers, unlike third-party data. First-party data shows important information, such as past purchases, birthdays, addresses, etc. But it requires guesswork because they must infer and predict future purchases based on past behaviors.
Instead, ZPD makes it possible for marketers to clearly understand consumers’ future purchase intentions and build more personalized relationships in a straightforward way. Rather than inferring from previous data and hoping for the best, companies directly ask for what they need.
The best ZPD methods are those that not only collect data but also engage consumers, like polls, questionnaires, quizzes, social stories, and more. For example, a cannabis dispensary might conduct a social media poll asking consumers about their favorite strain to enjoy on Thanksgiving. Or a CBD campaign could create a VIP group of its most frequent shoppers, sending quarterly surveys about their preferences for upcoming products, health issues or flavor profiles. Customers feel valued, and the company gets quick, direct, and specific product feedback.
Not all ZPD requires users to discuss products. Marketers can get critical data points about an array of preferences, issues and behaviors with indirect surveys about upcoming vacation plans or a Buzzfeed-style personality quiz finding a THC product based on a consumer’s favorite TV character.
ZPD also helps marijuana-based companies overcome some current regulatory barriers on marketing via many standard platforms, such as traditional ad buys, Google Ads or social media. As a result, grabbing consumers’ attention via email marketing, SMS and other opt-in channels is critical. ZPD methods offer engaging content resulting in higher open rates. Another workaround some THC companies employ is to advertise branded landing pages or sites, without mentioning their products, but using separate merchandise sites, allowing them to run ads and build awareness. A branded site could incorporate a poll or survey without mentioning products, allowing marketers to legally collect consumer information.
In addition to eliminating guesswork, ZPD gathers information in a way that doesn’t run afoul of privacy concerns. Consumers can choose whether or not to share their information. Brands demonstrating their respect for privacy will enjoy more positive sentiment from consumers who appreciate it. When customers trust brands, they’re more likely to share ZPD, improving those relationships, as well as marketing efforts, offers, product information, and more. As the cannabis industry grows and stabilizes, taking time to truly incorporate ZPD as part of a full strategy will bear fruit with more meaningful consumer relationships and end results.