Starbucks iOS App Puts Loyalty First With New Rewards Features

Starbucks yesterday announced a new version of its iOS app, featuring an overhauled design that aims to offer a more personalized experience for its customers and highlight the benefits of its loyalty program.

A new homepage for the app puts the company's Stars rewards front and center, enabling users to keep track of how many stars they've accrued and redeem them more easily.

Collected stars are displayed via an interactive Stars screen that shows customers how close they are to their next reward and allows them to use their finger as a "magnet" to create their own constellations.

The new homepage also keeps users regularly updated with personalized offers and displays live music track information highlighting what's "Now Playing" in Starbucks stores.

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The update introduces the option for members to redeem rewards and offers through its Mobile Order & Pay platform, which was introduced in the United States in September 2015. Members were unable to redeem rewards through the app until now.

However, stars are now earned by how much customers spend in stores, rather than how often they make purchases. The change translates to two stars for every dollar spent, instead of one star per visit, which means customers will have to spend $63 more to qualify for a free reward.

Reward program tiers have also been reduced from three to two in the new scheme, meaning customers must earn more stars than previously in order to go up a tier.

Starbucks says its app is used by 17 million people and Rewards members can expect more features soon, including the ability to earn Stars outside of Starbucks.

Starbucks is a free download from the App Store for iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]



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45 months ago
They made changes in the Birthday Reward also, you need 2 birthdays per year to get 1 free drink.
Rating: 28 Votes
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45 months ago
Oh good grief. If SB didn't pay MR a lot of coin or free coffee for that headline it got ripped off.

The new program is a serious downgrade from the previous one, esp. for "only" coffee drinkers like me. If SB wanted to reward customers based on the total bill, not single transaction it could have kept the old program and awarded a point for each item purchased like other reward programs do such as PinkBerry. Instead they turned the program into a sham hardly worth participating in. Irony is I no longer feel compelled to go to SB now so I get a point b/c the points are kinda worthless now. Reminds me of the pre-WWII cartoon of the German man with a wheelbarrow of currency that amounted to a loaf of bread.

Cue the "how dare they change how they give us free stuff!" comments.


You act like the program wasn't to SB's benefit in the first place and it was just being nice. Are you so naive?
Rating: 17 Votes
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45 months ago

But people abused it. I don't know how many times I would see people buy a small coffee and then "decide" to get a cake pop and hand their phone to a friend buy another low cost item.


That's not abuse, that's being smart. Starbucks rule was not one point per visit, but one point per transaction.
But again, SB could easily have amended the rules to one point for each item in a transaction like other food chains offer. That is what customers were asking for all along. Problem solved. Instead they devalued the points to make it look like it was giving people more but the reality is it will cost us more to get a reward now.

Also what you call a "low cost" item is still a high profit one for SB. That $1.50 cake pop cost it all of .12 to make from start to finish. A $2 Tall coffee cost it $.15. These are not loss leader items people are buying to get a free higher price one. Everything at SB is premium priced.
Rating: 13 Votes
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45 months ago

But people abused it. I don't know how many times I would see people buy a small coffee and then "decide" to get a cake pop and hand their phone to a friend buy another low cost item.


There was nothing abusive about the way it worked. I went to SB almost every day and bought a $3.00 Americano. Under the old program I would have to buy 12 of my $3.00 drinks to get a reward. I would us my reward to buy a $3.00 drink. So I would spend $36, plus tips to get a $3.00 reward. That's less than a 10% discount for my loyalty, which I think is completely fair, given the profit margins on all of their products.

But if I bought a $3.00 cup of coffee every day, and then once every three weeks to a month I bought a $13 pound of coffee I would often find myself giving them $46 for that same reward. Not as good a deal. So I would split up that pound of coffee and cup of coffee into two different purchases. Which again, I felt was fair.

But it was annoying, and I told them that. I told them that they should make it a per item star system, and not a per purchase. Instead of doing that they made it based on dollars, which effectively doubled the amount I needed to spend to get my free coffee. So instead of getting a little less than a 10% discount I would now get a little less than a 5% discount.

All well and fine, and if that's the way they want to run their rewards program it's their prerogative, so they can fashion it any way they see fit. But they should be prepared to lose loyalty. They've lost mine. Now, instead of stopping on my way into the office every morning to buy that $3.00 Americano I will just walk right past their door up to my office and have a cup of the free coffee in the office. Or walk across the street and give my money to Peet's.
Rating: 8 Votes
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45 months ago

('https://www.macrumors.com/2016/04/13/starbucks-ios-app-rewards-features/')


However, stars are now earned by how much customers spend in stores, rather than how often they make purchases. The change translates to two stars for every dollar spent, instead of one star per visit, which means customers will have to spend $63 more to qualify for a free reward.


I don't think it is $63 MORE, but $63 total (or, more precisely, $62.50). You always had to spend something...

If SB wanted to reward customers based on the total bill, not single transaction it could have kept the old program and awarded a point for each item purchased like other reward programs do such as PinkBerry.

You act like the program wasn't to SB's benefit in the first place and it was just being nice. Are you so naive?


I've seen countless claims online where people were buying a 50¢ chocolate on 30 transactions to get gold, then continuing for free drinks. This is abuse, and it is this type of abuse that prompted the change, though you will never hear them publicly admit it.

Obviously, loyalty programs are all designed to help the company. It is designed to draw you in more often. So what? If it also helps the customer save a little in return, is that a bad thing? Plus, it is still your choice to go or not. Why must the popular line be "companies are evil" and "they are trying to screw us" all the time? But that person buying 30 50¢ chocolates isn't abuse or trying to screw Starbucks?

But people abused it. I don't know how many times I would see people buy a small coffee and then "decide" to get a cake pop and hand their phone to a friend buy another low cost item.


This. Exactly. For people like me, who often spent more that $5 per visit? I won't be hurt. I will spend the same, and maybe be slightly ahead.

If you insisted that every item get rung up as a separate transaction? You're losing out, but you were abusing the system, you were costing the company money, as separate transactions do cost more than a single one, and take more time, causing longer lines for us all.

Yes, the minimum spend to get to a free reward goes from $25 to $150. Or, assuming you get a $5 drink for your freebie, the discount goes from 20% to around 3.5%. Personally, that is a disincentive to track down a SB rather than experiment at whatever the nearest true coffee shop is. I don't think this new program is going to encourage people to spend more. For example I'm never tempted to buy their food and rarely buy drinks baristas have to make. I'm all about the caffeine.


Where do you get this $150?? Source, please. I believe it is $62.50.

SO TRUE! Can't believe how simple math escapes some people. This hurts ALL customers because they will ALL be permanently required to pay a lot more for any 'free' item that is awarded. Panera keeps downgrading their rewards program. It is now a joke. Rewards programs are implemented to improve profit margins, not to reward customers.


SO FALSE! The simple math that escapes you is that this will in no way hurt ALL customers, because most of us didn't ring every item up separately because we aren't jerks trying to game a system, and making the line take longer.
Rating: 8 Votes
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45 months ago

Depends how much they've reduced the promo by, I suppose. If they've doubled the requirement under the guise of changing they way it's done, that could be seines being a bit underhand and devious.


Yes, the minimum spend to get to a free reward goes from $25 to $150. Or, assuming you get a $5 drink for your freebie, the discount goes from 20% to around 3.5%. Personally, that is a disincentive to track down a SB rather than experiment at whatever the nearest true coffee shop is. I don't think this new program is going to encourage people to spend more. For example I'm never tempted to buy their food and rarely buy drinks baristas have to make. I'm all about the caffeine.
Rating: 5 Votes
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45 months ago

But people abused it. I don't know how many times I would see people buy a small coffee and then "decide" to get a cake pop and hand their phone to a friend buy another low cost item.

Starbucks is the one RIPPING off the customers, not the other way around. Their profit margins on products are 1000%. One cup of regular coffee cost starbucks TWO CENTS. Are you naive? Or you just can't add? They were still making a HUGE profit even with the 'abuse.' Keep wasting your money!
Rating: 5 Votes
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45 months ago
Cue the "how dare they change how they give us free stuff!" comments.
Rating: 4 Votes
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45 months ago
I've been covering Starbuck Rewards for years. The program has been gutted every year. I'm surprised they even give you anything 5 years from now:

https://adamchandler.me/blog/2012/08/30/my-starbucks-reserve-gold-level-whats-the-point/

This was in 2012 and now the rewards are even worse. Unless you drink a super-size latte w/ scone twice a day, this program is pointless.
Rating: 4 Votes
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45 months ago


Where do you get this $150?? Source, please. I believe it is $62.50.


(Edit: you are correct, it's about $70 now vs. $24 before. But still doesn't change my outlook).

Honestly, I've been at the gold level since the rewards program started so I go to SB a lot all over town, all over the country. First, I've never seen anything in SB that was .50 except for an extra shot of espresso maybe. Certainly not chocolate. Second, I've never experienced the person in front of me buying several items, certainly not 30, and asking to have them scanned in individual transaction.

And you suggest I said "companies are evil" and "they are trying to screw us." Please show me those quotes. I do believe SB's program change is disingenuous, yes, for the reasons I stated. But companies are in business to make $. That is goal #1. But that is also why they invent loyalty programs -- to capture a customer base. So when they change gears why is it inappropriate for us loyal customers to comment on those changes? I'm not calling for a boycott of Starbucks. I'm not suggesting there should be a class action suit. I'm not even claiming SB's owes us a damn thing. I'm just saying this program is a sleight of hand.
Rating: 4 Votes
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