October 20, 2022

7th Edition: Digital Assets for a Better Consumer Experience

In September 2022, Starbucks announced its NFT-based loyalty program called Starbucks Odyssey. Considering its particularities and possible developments, Starbucks Odyssey is a revolutionary marketing move that will result in unstoppable business growth.

This news shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. Starbucks was one of the first brands to offer its clients WiFi, increasing the time people would spend inside the coffeehouses. Also, Starbucks pushed the idea of mobile wallets long before Apple Pay became widely used. Moreover, the company transformed mobile ordering into a standard long before the pandemic.

For Starbucks to embrace NFTs as part of its loyalty program is just continuing its innovation strategy exploring and leveraging the latest technological development.

Although it’s still operating based on a Waitlist people can register on, the Starbucks Odyssey aims to provide a new Web3 experience to its US clients once fully launched.  

According to the company’s statement:

“Starbucks is one of the first companies to integrate non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with an industry-leading loyalty program at scale while creating a digital community that will enable new ways for Starbucks to engage with its members and its partners.”

How Does It Work

Starbucks Odyssey is an extension of the company’s Rewards program. However, the NFT-based loyalty program will allow people to access and transfer value, which is impossible with the traditional Rewards program.

For example, people can’t withdraw their money from the Starbucks Rewards app. If they bought a gift card, for example, they can’t access their money anymore. Also, they can’t re-sell or transfer the gift cart. However, this new NFT-based loyalty program will change this situation, allowing people to exchange and trade the Journey Stamps.

As the company highlights:

“Once logged in, members can engage in Starbucks Odyssey’ journeys,’ a series of activities, such as playing interactive games or taking on fun challenges to deepen their knowledge of coffee and Starbucks. Members will be rewarded for completing journeys with a digital collectible ‘journey stamp’ (NFT).”

Quick note: Starbucks decided to avoid using blockchain-related terminology. For example, the NFTs became Journey Stamps. This way, the company is adapting this specific use case to its brand, reducing the anxiety or uncertainty clients may experience. After all, many Starbucks fans may be unaware of blockchain technology. Making things easy for them is crucial for the program’s success. Thanks to effortless purchases made via credit cards, Starbucks will help people to quickly onboard with Web3 avoiding headaches such as gas fees, separate wallets, blockchain transactions, and more.

Each Journey Stamp will feature an iconic artwork co-created with Starbucks partners and renowned artists, making them collectible. Also, the stamps will have a point value based on their rarity.

By earning Starbucks’ Journey Stamps, people can access multiple perks and experiences. Here are some of the possibilities the Starbucks Odyssey opens:

  • Winning educational experiences, such as a virtual express martini-making class
  • Winning physical goods, such as coffee-brewing accessories or merchandise
  • Access to exclusive events at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries
  • All-paid or partially paid trips to Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia Coffee Farm in Costa Rica
  • Trade the stamps among members within a marketplace.

To win the Journey Stamps, Starbucks clients will have to participate in different challenges, including real-life activities, such as trying three things on the express menu.

As Starbucks CMO Brady Brewer told TechCrunch:

“We’ll have experiences that do link directly to customers’ behavior in our stores.”

NFT expert, Brett Malinowski, provides excellent use-case examples that help visualize the utility of this strategy.

As Malinowski highlights, Starbucks can apply old-school marketing tactics with a digital twist. For example, the company can launch a 12-month learning program for its fans. In the first month, people may learn where coffee beans are sourced. During the second month, Starbucks fans can learn how coffee is processed. In the third month, they can discover what machinery to use to prepare a specific coffee type. In other words, people can learn different things, earning a Journey Stamp at the end of each month.

Once someone collects all 12 stamps, they can merge them and generate a Golden Starbucks Pass that may give them perks such as:

  • All paid trips to Costa Rica
  • Priority pass anywhere in the world
  • Discounts
  • Free Nespresso pods
  • And more

Moreover, those who have all 12 stamps may be able to sell some of them to those who have fewer stamps yet want to access Starbucks perks.

The possibilities are unlimited.

As Malinowski indicates, the NFT-based loyalty program allows Starbucks to prime its audience, teach people about its new product lines, and simultaneously reward them by nurturing its fanbase. In other words, blockchain technology and the NFT-based loyalty program enable Starbucks to create an entire digital economy around its product.

Quick note: To minimize the energy used for its NFT-based program, Starbucks uses a “proof-of-stake” blockchain technology built by Polygon.