Starbucks Loyalty Changes Incite Highly Caffeinated Rage

It would appear that a lot of customers are finding Starbucks’ revamped loyalty and rewards program to be … well … a little unrewarding, which could potentially lead to some disloyalty.

The new system, which the retail coffee monolith plans to roll out next month, is replacing the existing process, wherein Starbucks customers earn “stars” (the brand’s version of redeemable rewards points) per transaction. Beginning in April, one star will be awarded for every $1 spent.

Given that the rejiggered program will inherently favor Starbucks customers that maximize their spending, many coffee enthusiasts are voicing their displeasure about the change.

Time shares that, according to YouGov BrandIndex, Starbucks’ “buzz score” — which quantifies public opinion of a brand — fell by half in just over a week’s time. A perhaps more direct assessment that Time also shares — this one a survey on — is 77 percent of respondents saying that they “hate” Starbucks’ new loyalty program.

The outlet also highlights a few tweets from Starbucks customers expressing their strong dislike for the change.

Starbucks, adds the Time story, has responded to the backlash, reiterating its point from the initial announcement that the change was motivated by customer feedback. The most popular request on feedback site, My Starbucks Idea, holds the retailer, was actually to be able to earn more rewards by spending more money.

Beyond offering explanation, Starbucks is also attempting to directly engage with potentially unhappy customers regarding the matter. Time notes that the retailer plans to hold “Double-Star Days” once a month, whereby Gold members (a Starbucks reward tier attained once a customer has collected 53 stars) can earn four stars for every $1 spent. The Time story also reports that Starbucks is working with corporate partners, such as Spotify, to create more star-related opportunities for customers.


Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.


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