customer loyalty retention cannabis dispensary dispensaries

CliqueMJ Disrupting Cannabis Industry with Customer Retention App

You know how it works. You buy your double espresso caramel whipped macchiato (light on the soy milk) coffee drink from Starbucks, scan your loyalty card to earn rewards, and find yourself closer to getting a free drink next time you walk in.

CliqueMJ is trying to do the same thing with cannabis and your favorite dispensary, or dispensaries.

Unimpressed by current industry loyalty schemes, which it says tend to focus simply on getting as many people through the door via text blasting as opposed to cultivating genuine customer retention, the California-based company is on a mission to educate dispensaries around the country as to the benefits of retention versus straight numbers, benefits which can include much superior returns for the bottom line, according to its own internal data.

The app-based program is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Fadia Kanaan and Rami Sahhar, who have an established professional background in entrepreneurship, marketing, retail, and branding. They are proud to call themselves disruptors.

“Absolutely, 100 percent,” Sahhar said. “The text-based discount programs kind of defeat the object, they don’t encourage loyalty — not everyone should be getting a so-called loyalty program.” 

Hefty Costs Involved to Host Text Blasting, App Not so Much

Dispensaries pay large amounts of money to host existing text messaging or directory platforms, CliqueMJ says, while the same dispensaries can pay a lot less for its app – a standard $420 a month to host the app which can be discounted to $350 monthly for a year’s commitment. The app is free to users.

And while dispensaries may be paying as much as five times more for such text-based/directory platforms, they are also not necessarily benefiting from returning customers, the key idea behind the CliqueMJ model.

Customers are also able to transfer points to friends to shop at a mutually preferred dispensary while individuals can also gain points outside of their own purchases by sharing a favorite dispensary profile on the CliqueMJ app. “That’s how we drive more people into that dispensary,” Kanaan said. 

As well as seeing their own “Collect Buds” points build up on the loyalty program, customers can also get restaurant deals nearby, helping dispensaries to be “heroes of their community,” she added, by encouraging more spending in the local community.

The “Transfer Buds” feature and the referral program can also clearly benefit individual dispensaries as they seek to retain new customers.

What CliqueMJ sees as an engaging, payment app VENMO-type model for sharing with friends, only has opt out rates of less than 2%, according to internal data. Such data also reveals an average 1000-4000 app downloads for any given dispensary.

Challenges Remain

The challenge for now is getting the dispensaries to prefer the company’s own lesser-known app versus the text-based platforms more common in the industry and convince them such a switch will benefit them.

“Really, the whole hurdle now is pushing the education thing for the dispensaries,” Sahhar said.

As well as persuading such dispensaries they will save costs and grow their business through better customer retention, the app will save them time, something they just don’t have.

And there is no need to worry about other nearby dispensaries, for example, also having access to the CliqueMJ app. In reality, the app being taken up by multiple dispensaries boosts local consumer spending for the whole community.

When dispensary customers download the app and follow it, the app’s homepage turns into the following dispensary’s page,” Kanann pointed out. “This makes cross-marketing difficult and only possible when the user shops at a different dispensary and wants to add them to his list of favorites.”

Then it comes down as to which dispensary is doing the whole customer retention thing better, not just a race to the bottom as to which ones can simply offer the biggest discounts.

“That method eats into margins,” Kanaan said. “The gamification aspect of the loyalty app gives your customers the ability to know how many points they hold and they are then incentivized to continue coming back to the dispensary to collect points and redeem discounts, rather than just shopping multiple dispensaries for the cheapest deal.”


  • Nick is an award-winning journalist with several years experience working in a variety of media including digital and print. Originally from the UK, Nick worked as reporter in the London newsroom of Bloomberg for three years before moving to the US where he has lived for the past 18 years. He has covered finance in the cannabis industry since January 2019 for Marijuana Business Daily.

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