Starbucks Loyalty Links Stars to Bucks

Via your classmate Cherry, changes to Starbucks’ loyalty program that might have burned consumers’ feelings along with their coffee beans. Cherry writes:

“Starbucks is known for their successful loyalty program and has done a lot of promotional activities to push the program last year.  Loyal gold card customers are familiar with the loyalty program; how every purchase gets you a star, and how 12 stars gets you a free drink.  However, Starbucks has confirmed to CTV News that there will be changes to this program in Canada, these changes that will decrease the number of freebies.  People will now need 125 stars to get a free item and stars will be earned on every dollar spent.   This will affect those who spend less than $5 the most, which are the coffee drinkers.

Will this drastically decrease brand loyalty?  I personally think not.  For many, Starbucks is a brand of status; people drink Starbucks coffee for the cup.  Furthermore, specialty drinks costs more than $5 anyways!  What are your thoughts?”


4 thoughts on “Starbucks Loyalty Links Stars to Bucks

  1. emilyvwong

    Personally when I first heard about the change in the rewards program, I was very confused and didn’t understand why. To me, it seemed like we were still spending a ridiculous amount of money to pretty much receive the same amount of stars. As a non-avid coffee drinker, I am spending a lot of money on their other drinks such as frappucinos so yes, it does sound more rewarding to earn stars based on the dollar amount spent but it does not affect my purchasing habits or loyalty to the brand. As for avid coffee drinkers, they are earning less stars per drink but I think the same thing goes – they will still purchase the same coffee they do every morning and their loyalty will not be affected.

  2. lucianolublog

    I also don’t think there will be much of a change in brand loyalty, if anything, the change will not be significant enough for Starbucks to reverse their program. For the most part, people who drink Starbucks is mainly because it’s from “Starbucks.” Not many, if any, of those people can actually taste a difference in drinks such as coffee. The people who choose Starbucks coffee realize they are paying a premium amount compared to other companies, but they do so for the status that comes with the purchase. Put the same quality of coffee into a Starbucks cup and a Second Cup one and 9 times out of time, people will still choose to pay the higher price for the Starbucks one. Starbucks’ consumers are loyal to the brand no matter the loyalty program, the program is just an added benefit for a product they were already going to purchase.

  3. Naina Arora

    I agree with you when you said it will probably not decrease brand loyalty. I think Starbucks has achieved brand resonance with its consumers, so they aren’t as willing to be swayed by price, since they are already paying a premium for specialty coffee and customized drinks. Many drinks are over $5 anyways, and if you get a snack with your drink its usually around 10$! However, Starbucks loyalists are loyal to the brand itself, so I do not think the new rewards program will affect consumers’ brand loyalty.

  4. Erin Cronin

    I don’t think this will affect brand loyalty at all. I think the majority of Starbucks drinkers do in fact consume the brand for status and symbolism and will pay a pretty penny to do so. I’m assuming that the majority of individuals who have these loyalty cards are older and have the income to continue buying their coffee’s and not being too broken up about not getting as many freebies. My father has one of these cards and drinks Starbucks religiously, but I didn’t hear any complaints when this news came out because he didn’t care. Also, a great majority of Starbucks consumers are individuals of our generation who don’t have these loyalty cards, but are still extremely loyal. The Starbucks line in the concourse, for instance, is always long, and not once have I ever seen a student use a loyalty card when purchasing their beverage, but tend to see a lot of people take pictures of their cups. Starbucks seems to be more of a trend and accessory in which people will always be willing to pay for.


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