Starbucks gold – a badly designed rewards plan

Starbucks Gold

I go to Starbucks twice a day, so the idea of a rewards program is very attractive.  Now Starbucks already has a “Rewards card,” so I assumed their new “Gold card” was just a higher level of the same thing.  Not really.

If you’re enjoying Starbucks Card Rewards benefits, such as free syrups, milk options and refills on drip coffee, then we hope you continue to do so. But if you’re looking for daily savings on everything from espresso beverages to espresso machines, you should check out Starbucks Gold. (Please note that Starbucks Card Rewards discounts cannot be combined with Starbucks Gold discounts.)

Umm… so they’re separate?  Can’t be combined?   I have to carry two cards around?  And the discounts aren’t stacked?

This was needlessly confusing, Starbucks.   That Software Guy’s recommendations:

  • Your rewards program can have multiple tiers, but should be physically integrated with your existing payment platforms: the Duetto (a credit card) and the Starbucks card (a stored value card).  A sticker – or better yet, electronic encoding – could easily be used to identify premium membership.
  • You should encourage card registration and promote your biggest spenders automatically (with no fee) to the premium tier of rewards.   This is pennies on the dollar for your biggest fans.
  • The words “… don’t be surprised if your barista doesn’t know about it yet” indicate a major planning failure.   If your staff hasn’t been trained yet, delay the rollout.  The last thing you want to do is have your staff arguing with your best customers, for heaven’s sakes!