Starbucks Ties NFTs To Loyalty Program In Beta Launch

First teased during an August earnings call, Starbucks Odyssey quickly gained attention in the marketing industry for its potential to lay the foundation for what a web3-integrated loyalty program could look like.

Starbucks already has a successful rewards program, with half its total sales coming from rewards members – integrating NFTs into its program could be a realistic gauge for consumer interest in the technology as marketers look to new tactics to gather first-party data.

Though, it’s a bold move to place bets on blockchain technology. This year has seen NFTs gradually lose value in the eyes of consumers, with daily average sales declining 92% between September 2021 to May 2022. A survey by Forrester in March found that 72% of consumers have never heard of NFTs or have no interest in purchasing or owning one. Events like the “crypto winter” and the crumbling of FTX likely haven’t helped. Still, Starbucks Odyssey could prove to be an exception, offering rewards members a value grab that ties into their existing rewards program and creating a low barrier to entry. Though powered through blockchain Polygon, those interacting with Starbucks Odyssey need not possess a crypto wallet or cryptocurrency — just a credit card and a Starbucks Rewards membership.

To engage with Starbucks Odyssey, rewards members must be signed in. From there, they can participate in a series of interactive activities like taking a virtual tour of the Starbucks coffee farm Hacienda Alsacia in Costa Rica, answering questions about Starbucks’ heritage and playing popular games like Starbucks for Life. After completing an activity, members will be awarded a Stamp and bonus rewards points. 

Points earned can be used to unlock experiences organized into three tiers, with a higher point value correlating to a unique experience. At the lowest level, users could take a virtual espresso martini-making class, and higher level experiences could include access to merchandise and artist collaborations, invitations to events at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries or a trip to Hacienda Alsacia, offering rewards members a value incentive beyond simply owning an NFT. 

The first collection of Journey Stamps embodies classic designs nodding to Starbucks history, like a stamp modeled after the chain’s first location in Pike Place Market in Seattle and this year’s holiday cup design. Beginning shortly after the beta launch, participants will be able to access the Starbucks Odyssey market, powered by Nifty Gateway, to buy and sell NFTs among other members. The NFTs can be bought using a credit card with each buy tied to additional bonus points. Next year, users will be able to buy limited-edition Stamps with a portion of the sales going to causes determined by Starbucks employees and loyalty program members.

Original invitations for beta participants were sent in December to members, including Starbucks employees and customers, and additional monthly invitations will be extended to a wider group of members beginning in January 2023.