Reacting with positive solutions was key: Zaffino

HUNTINGDON, QC — In the face of an undeniably terrible situation for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic, ROSE LifeScience President and CEO Davide Zaffino says the cannabis industry had an opportunity to make things a little easier. And it did. And it worked.

“The pandemic hurt so many people, businesses and communities. It’s a truly awful thing,” said Zaffino. “We’ve still got a long way to go to help get things back on track. But, I’m grateful to say that, in the cannabis space, we had the opportunity to actually help our clients with services and products they were looking for during a really difficult time.”

A recent study showed that just more than one-third of people who consume cannabis increased their consumption during the pandemic. Much of this increase, says Zaffino, was due to the declaration of an ‘essential service’ for cannabis retailers and producers during a time when consumer interest was spiking.

“There’s no question, cannabis sales took off,” said Zaffino about the impact ‘essential’ operations had on transactions. “We could see right away that our industry was having a different experience than others, and it was up to us to react quickly and positively. We had to embrace it.”

Zaffino explained that dispensaries saw an increase of roughly 30 per cent in sales during the first weeks of major shutdowns. Additionally, Zaffino says retail cannabis shops saw increases in the amount customers were spending as well as an abundance of new customers. Deliveries also drastically increased. 

Looking back at 2020 overall, Health Canada reported cannabis sales experienced a major boom, more than doubling in sales.

“I think in the beginning of the pandemic, people were making decisions out of uncertainty and started to look at keeping more products at home,” said Zaffino. “Eventually, the boredom and stress of indefinitely staying indoors resulted in a general increase of continued sales.” 

ADAPTING TO A NEW REALITY

With the opportunity to embrace ongoing services came the responsibility to help in general, said Zaffino. For example, many cannabis businesses donated protective equipment to healthcare centres. 

But, as customer service goes, Zaffino says he wasn’t surprised how the cannabis industry was able to make positive adjustments.

“Since legalization, it’s always been about learning and adapting,” said Zaffino, about a new industry still finding its feet in the regulated world. “It’s just a part of what we all have to do to be responsible and successful.”

Indeed, cannabis retailers quickly launched delivery and curbside pickup, and many greatly improved online services as the pandemic became more real for everyone.  

“It’s a sign of resilience,” Zaffino said. “Our designation as ‘essential’ is a major reflection of the importance of cannabis. This pandemic has also greatly reduced the negative connotation that many have associated with the cannabis industry for so long.”

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