Starbucks just announced big additions to its rewards program, including digital experiences and a trip to Costa Rica.
The new program, which was teased by outgoing CEO Howard Schultz in an August earnings call, is called Starbucks Odyssey and gives customers and employees access to “new benefits and immersive coffee experiences” using web3 technology, Starbucks said in a press release. The coffee chain describes Odyssey as an extension of its already-existing rewards program, which members can reach using their accounts.
In Starbucks Odyssey, members can play games and engage in online challenges to learn more about coffee. Completing different aspects will be rewarded with “journey stamps,” which also function as NFTs. The stamps will have point values and can be exchanged between members using blockchain technology. Points can then be used to access rewards like virtual espresso martini-making class, exclusive merchandise, and even a trip to a Costa Rica coffee farm, Starbucks said.
Rather than a short-term attempt to join the NFT fad, this is a permanent extension to the rewards program, Chief Marketing Officer Brady Brewer told Insider. Members who use these features “may not actually know they’re interacting with blockchain or NFTs,” he said, with the program intentionally avoiding those words that may not be familiar. Unlike many NFT ventures, Starbucks Rewards members won’t have to create a crypto wallet to buy and sell stamps.
Starbucks Rewards members tend to have strong feelings about the program and any potential changes. When the coffee chain last made major changes to the program in 2019, customers took to social media to express their grievances. At that point, Starbucks changed how many stars were required for some free foods and drinks. The rewards program has gained over 10 million members since then, so even more customers could be impacted this time around.
Starbucks has one of the most successful rewards memberships in the fast food business. The program has 27.4 million members as of the end of the quarter, a year-over-year increase of 13%. Rewards members were responsible for over half of Starbucks’ sales last quarter.
Other quick-service chains have already ventured into web3: McDonald’s filed trademarks for a virtual restaurant and NFTs, Panera filed a trademark for the “Paneraverse,” including NFTs, and Wendy’s and Chipotle both tested out virtual restaurants in the Metaverse, with some real world rewards available.
The waitlist for Starbucks Odyssey opened on September 12, with the first invitations going out by the end of 2022.
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