Earlier this year, on Monday April 4th, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that the company plans to enter the NFT space in 2022. Now, it appears that the time has come. Just recently, industry leader Starbucks is set to begin an NFT based loyalty program on the Polygon network. The program will be called Starbucks Odyssey, and it will allow customers to purchase (via credit card) or earn digital collectible NFTs which unlock new benefits and experiences to those in the United States. No crypto wallet or cryptocurrency is required.
Starbucks is one of the first companies to integrate NFTs with an industry-leading loyalty program at scale, and it’s all kicking off immediately. Starting from September 12th 2022, customers and partners can join the waitlist for a chance to be amongst the first to receive access to the Starbucks Odyssey experience, which will launch later this year. Starbucks’ vision is to create a place where “digital community can come together over coffee, engage in immersive experiences, and celebrate the heritage and future of Starbucks.”
The program will be an extension to its existing rewards program. Once logged in, “members can engage in Starbucks Odyssey ‘journeys,’ a series of activities, such as playing interactive games or taking on fun challenges to deepen their knowledge of coffee and Starbucks. Members will be rewarded for completing journeys with a digital collectable ‘journey stamp’ NFT.”
Each of the NFTs will feature iconic Starbucks artwork, have a rarity point value and be tradeable on Starbucks’ very own marketplace. Some of the current benefits and experiences that have already been announced are, a virtual espresso martini-making class, merchandise/artist collaborations, Starbucks reserve roasteries events, trips to Starbucks coffee farms in Costa Rica and more.
So far it appears as if Starbucks has nailed the first steps of moving into the NFT space. There have been countless cases of established Web2 brands or celebrities (Chris brown and Liverpool FC) which have attempted to enter the NFT space, only to be met with failure. This is because successful Web2 methods and strategies do not always directly translate to success in Web3.
Learning this, here are 3 reasons why Starbucks has nailed its NFT strategy so far.
#1 – Leveraging NFTs to Add Value
Starbucks has clearly done proper research. Unlike many other brands attempting to enter the space, Starbucks understands that NFTs have three key aspects. These are:
1. Collectibilty = Using art via collaborations with companies and artists.
2. Earnability = Incentivize desired actions (buy coffee and other drinks).
3. Utility = Unique and unlockable experiences (coffee events, merchandise and more).
Essentially, Starbucks has managed to answer the burning question of, “why should this be an NFT?” Consumers who simply just want coffee and so happen to be rewarded in this way can sell or utilize their NFTs. Consumers who don’t buy enough coffee, but still want to access the exclusive perks can just buy them.
#2 – Maintained Brand Image
While entering the NFT space, Starbucks has managed to maintain everything that it stands for. The NFT ecosystem compliments its Odyssey NFT experience, which revolves around coffee. It makes sense that a hardcore coffee lover and drinker would want to gain access to exclusive coffee experiences. Additionally, Starbucks’s ethos revolves around sustainability. By choosing Polygon as its blockchain technology of choice, Starbucks is able to maintain a low carbon footprint. For this reason, it is likely that Polygon will be a popular choice for future loyalty programs, especially for consumer companies’ that are conscious of the environment and sustainability.
Essentially, the Starbucks brand grows organically from the introduction of NFTs and it is still able to stay in line with its core values. This is something that is an absolute must from Web2 brands entering the Web3 space.
#3 A Focus On User Experience
As Web3 natives, we often forget how complicated crypto and blockchain technology is to someone who isn’t well versed in the space. Starbucks has created a very user-friendly experience for the consumer, which is crucial. Consumers will be able to trade NFTs directly from the marketplace with fiat, meaning that anyone with a smartphone can be onboarded on to the program.
Making the process simple and easy for the consumer is so important. If it is too complex, people will simply shy away and ignore it. Starbucks has created a strategy which is massive for NFT adoption, as forieng language such as MetaMask and seed phrase can be avoided.
No matter how well Starbucks nails this, there are always going to be haters. Opinions are always going to be divided, especially when it comes to the world of NFTs as the world simply does not understand them yet. The majority of the population view NFT technology purely as stupid pictures of animals.
If you search for “Starbucks NFT” on Google, the top two results are contradictory. The first article is titled “Starbucks Brewing Revolutionary Web3 Experience for its Starbucks Rewards Members”, and the second is “Starbucks Explains How Its Dumbass NFT Program Works.” Unfortunately, humans are naturally resistant to change, and if there is something that someone does not understand, they usually prefer to slate it, rather than learn about it.
Seeing as NFTs are the biggest technological shift and advancement of this generation, it’s only natural that people are resistant to acceptance or learning. Saying this, more and more globally recognised brands are adopting and implementing NFT technology into their business strategies, so it’s only a matter of time until NFTs take over.
Starbucks Odyssey could play a very important role in the mass adoption of NFTs. Its success or failure will be monitored closely by other consumer brands. It could potentially act as a catalyst and blueprint for all consumer brands which experiment with Web3 in the future. Now, we sit back and relax while we see how consumers react.