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Starbucks expands its loyalty program to Web3

The coffee giant will integrate non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, into Starbucks Rewards, which will give customers new ways to engage with the brand.
Starbucks NFTs
Starbucks will integrate NFTs and Web3 into its loyalty program. / Image courtesy of Starbucks.

Starbucks is integrating digital assets known as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, into its loyalty program, the company said on Monday, a broad-based expansion of the program that it believes will give customers more opportunities to interact with the brand.

In the process, the Seattle-based coffee giant will be one of the first major companies to integrate so-called Web3 technology into its loyalty program on such a large scale.

The Starbucks Odyssey experience will launch later this year, though customers and employees can join a waitlist now to get access to the program.

The program will allow members of the Starbucks Rewards program to join Starbucks Odyssey, where they will play interactive games or take on challenges to “deepen their knowledge of coffee and Starbucks.”

Customers who complete those “journeys” will then be rewarded with a digital collectible “journey stamp,” which will be an NFT.

Each stamp will have a point value based on its rarity. Stamps can be bought or sold among members within the marketplace, with ownership secured on a blockchain, or a digital database.

The benefits customers can get can range from a virtual espresso martini-making class to access to unique merchandise or invitations to events at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries. Customers can even win trips to a coffee farm in Costa Rica.

Stamps will feature Starbucks artwork created by employees and outside artists. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of limited-edition stamps will be donated to charities supported by employees and loyalty members.

“This will create an entirely new set of digital network effects that will attract new customers and be accretive to existing customers in our core retail stores,” Interim CEO Howard Schultz told investors last month, according to a transcript on the financial services site.

The company indeed hopes that the creation of a Web3-enabled loyalty program adds to the chain’s reputation as forward-thinking on technology. The company has long had success with integrating tech into its restaurants, including in-store WiFi for customers to mobile order and its loyalty program.

The company believes access to Web3 experience will “introduce a new, next-generation loyalty program model to the world.”

Essentially, the company will be taking its “Third Place,” which has envisioned a place other than work or home where people hang out, into Web3, also known as the “metaverse.”

“This is just the beginning,” Brady Brewer, Starbucks' chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “We are creating an accessible, digital ‘Third Place’ community, enabled by Web3 technology, where Starbucks Rewards members and partners can connect through unique experiences and comt together around the love for coffee.”

The expansion of Starbucks Rewards comes as the chain has been making major changes to its business. The company also announced new worker benefits on Monday. It plans to announce other changes at its Investor Day presentation on Tuesday.

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