How Starbucks uses loyalty/rewards programs

Key Notable Stats

How Starbucks Masters Loyalty and Rewards Programs: Discover Starbucks' Successful Strategies for Building Customer Loyalty and Driving Business Growth.
How Starbucks Masters Loyalty and Rewards Programs: Discover Starbucks' Successful Strategies for Building Customer Loyalty and Driving Business Growth.

So, how has this happened? By making strategic decisions over time, Starbucks has ensured their program can excel to the best of its abilities. From entering digital gaming in 2015 with its Starbucks for Life program, to announcing Bonus Star Bingo which enables loyalty members to accumulate points and prizes over a period of time, they are always putting the customer experience first in each of their decisions.

How the Starbucks Program is set up

How To Earn Starbucks Rewards Stars

There are a few different ways you can earn "stars" to redeem for free items:

  • Earn 1 star for every dollar spent when you link your payment to your app in stores
  • Earn 2 stars for every dollar spent when you preload your app with your credit card
  • Earn stars on Starbucks brand purchases from retailers, including packaged coffee, K-cups, packaged prepared beverages, and more. These items are labeled with a "star code" and the receipt can be scanned into the mobile app for redemption
  • Purchase Starbucks branded coffee online at the Starbucks store and connect the purchase to your Starbucks Rewards account
  • Participate in games and special offers in the app and your email inbox to earn bonus stars
  • Periodic "double star days" allow members to earn double the stars on qualifying purchases

Starbucks Rewards Earnings for Different Star Levels

The Starbucks Reward Program has five tiers. As you earn stars and reach certain levels, your stars can be converted into rewards. You can choose to use a lower-level reward or save up your stars for a bigger reward:

  • 25 stars: Free drink customization, including a flavored syrup, extra shot of espresso, or milk substitution such as almond or coconut milk
  • 50 stars: Free brewed hot coffee, tea, or bakery item such as a croissant or bagel
  • 150 stars: Free handcrafted drink (such as a latte), hot breakfast (such as a breakfast sandwich or oatmeal), or parfait
  • 200 stars: Free packaged lunch, such as a protein box, salad, or sandwich
  • 400 stars: Free select merchandise or packaged coffee beans

Our analysis on Starbucks’ success

Overall, Starbucks structured their program strategically to generate tremendous success. The great news is - you, too, can create this momentum by setting up a similar structure with Toki.

  • Low entry point makes it easy for any customer to enter. The Starbucks reward entry level used to be much higher - in 2016, a member needed to collect 125 stars to be able to redeem a free drink and food. At two stars for every dollar spent, this was significant spend for reward ratio ($62.50 spent before getting a reward). Starbucks changed this in 2019 with a new rewards program that enabled members to redeem rewards at 25 stars ($12.50 spend). They also then eliminated the expiry of points to enhance long-term brand loyalty, since shoppers are less likely to churn if their points don’t have a deadline.

With Toki, you can set up your entry point to be as low as one token or one activity. We suggest setting up a program where the initial token entry amount gives your consumer free shipping as a reward.  This is a more playful way to capture your consumers’ email than the typical ‘give email for 10% off’.  Consumers are bored of this behavior.

  • Gifting instead of discounting. When you use your stars to redeem a reward, they are removed from your account. As you’ll notice, Starbucks isn’t interested in diluting the value of their brand by offering discounts. Their full focus is on free gifting.

Gifting is easy to set up in Toki. When you select gifting as a reward option, you can chose what gift you want to give and when you want to give it. We create a tag within your Shopify account so your 3PL knows to send a gift with said purchase.

  • Gamification. Setting up their program with five tiers not only allows for an easy entry point into the system, but a full gamification opportunity. Consumers move up through personalized steps on the customer loyalty journey by earning stars while working towards "winning" a reward. These steps could include downloading the mobile app, purchasing a muffin with your regular latte, or placing your order ahead of time with mobile pick up features. Their customers can see the path laid out before them, so they are more likely to purchase.

We also suggest building out a five tier system within Toki. You can use our rewards builder to create all kinds of gamified challenges for your consumers. Plus, you can customize the look and feel on your website to fit your brand. We understand consistency among a branded feel is everything!

  • Personalization. Starbucks has capitalized on using behavioral segmentation by understanding the behavioral habits and patterns on a customer level. They know if a buyer uses mobile ordering, what their standard order is, the amount of their average order, how frequently they're visiting, and which location they most often visit. Behavioral segmentation has allowed Starbucks Rewards to tailor personalized interactions and communications based on that specific customers' behavior. By building a clear 360 customer view, they created a more engaging experience for every individual customer.

Toki also paints a full view of your customer via our audience and segmentation feature set. In here, you can see where your consumer has engaged throughout the Toki network, pull segments based on this activity, and subsequently create activities, airdops or challenges for this specific audience segment. You can even personalize what this looks like onsite with our designer!

  • Constant retention notifications. To encourage customers to return to the store more often, the app sends push notifications to advertise promotions. This is the benefit of having a direct communication channel with your customers on mobile, not only can you send push notifications but you can also have an open line to announce new drops, activities you want your consumers to take or put in specific requests for product feedback.

We’re pleased to say, all of this and more are available with Toki.

If Starbucks Rewards were built on the Blockchain

Again, the Starbucks loyalty/rewards program is the crème de la crème of rewards/loyalty. The way they have nailed the five tiers, the personalization, the gamification, the gift card cross selling - it's all top notch execution. Toki was built to give brands, both large and small, the ability to create a rewards platform like Starbucks. Small brands struggle with loyalty activation because they simply don’t have enough customers coming back to their site to activate their points, which is why we built a web extension and mobile app for all brands in the Toki network to provide a global login. We believe these network affects will solve for the cold start problems most brands have.

With that said, Starbucks can see formidable benefits from Toki as well, as explained in our other blog article here. Launching a program on our blockchain network would result in a secure and immutable, program, could reduce costs, and can result in a much deeper customer connection.

Using Toki for loyalty, Starbucks could:

  • Tokenize their current point system

This catapults Starbucks into the emerging web3 space, without straying too far from the web2 internet we all know and love. Doing so is a super easy 3-step process.

  • Connect NFTs to tiered reward levels

These would be unlocked by customers through the micro-activities determined by Starbucks. The Toki platform allows you to plug-and-play activities both onsite and offsite to rewards.

  • Engage and expand current audience

Similar to credit card points, the Starbucks customer has the power through Toki to use their tokens across thelikeminded brands Starbucks has agreed to partner with. This creates a win-win for both Starbucks and their customers - Starbucks has the opportunity to acquire new customers across the Toki network, and their customers’ experience skyrockets by not feeling limited or restricted in the way they use the rewards they’ve earned.

  • Incorporate and reward audience in decision-making

With Toki, Starbucks can collect feedback directly through the Toki app on anything from new products to in-person cafe experiences. These can even be collected from specific customer segments based on who they are, where they are, how many Starbucks Rewards tokens they have, and beyond.

Needless to say, the Starbucks Rewards program is a model worth praising. With over 24 million active users, they’re clearly doing something right! The benefit of working with Toki is that a successfully growing program like this one, or one that is just starting out, will only continue to grow. The added perk is that there now exists a program built within the secure, exciting, and ever-growing ecosystem of the blockchain.

Join The World's Fastest-Growing Brands

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.