Starbucks Turned Me Down, So Dunkin' Won My Data

Collecting consumer data online may be easy, but it lacks in one area: instant gratification for the user. 

Collecting consumer data offline may require more work, but its real-time gratification factor can be summed up with two words: free donuts.

Some quick background for context: It was my birthday not too long ago, so I have a free Starbucks drink on my card. I'm writing this from the St. Louis airport, and apparently, the Starbucks here doesn’t redeem birthday drinks. Oh well -- what else should I expect from a chain inside of an airport? I’m not up to snuff on the politics of it all; I just accept that airports and everything about them are different and get over it.

I turned around and saw Dunkin’ Donuts. I ordered a bagel with cream cheese and was told to fill a survey out at the bottom of the receipt to receive a free donut. I sat down at my gate, ate my bagel and filled out the survey. It took five minutes.

Would I get a strawberry or maple donut? Would they let me get a cinnamon roll?

As I walked down the airport terminal toward my free donut, a wave of dread swept over me. Perhaps Dunkin’ would tell me I couldn’t redeem my coupon that day -- that I would have to hold onto my receipt until the next time I ended up in this city, at this terminal, and at this gate again. I had already spilled cream cheese on it! Was I about to fall victim to some dastardly data collection scheme?

My fear was unfounded. The cashier accepted my receipt -- cream cheese and all -- and exchanged it for a maple donut. Cinnamon rolls are too fancy to be doled out for free, I guess.

In the end, the donut was not free; I willingly paid for it with my data.

This wasn’t the first and won’t be the last time a company offers something free to consumers who fill out surveys. But this airport experience struck a chord with me as it relates to collecting data, which is the heart of programmatic media-buying, and highlighted differences between online and offline collection. The two methods even mix -- this “offline” data collection on Dunkin’s part included an online survey.

The instant gratification factor is something that keeps brick-and-mortar upright. It's funny that an industry turning toward real-time -- online advertising -- is limited in its ability to provide something to users in real-time. When it comes to data collection, could this turn into a hindrance?

"Donut" photo from Shutterstock.

8 comments about "Starbucks Turned Me Down, So Dunkin' Won My Data".
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  1. Paul Robinson from Viridian Development Corporation, February 17, 2014 at 11:08 a.m.

    "I wasn't shocked that I could be bribed; almost anyone below the income of Carlos Slim, Warren Buffet or Bill Gates can be bribed. What really saddened and shocked me was how cheaply I could be bribed." - Paul Robinson

    "You'd be surprised how much you can get from someone in exchange for a pack of cigarettes, and for a carton, the sky is practically the limit." - Tam O'Shanter

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 17, 2014 at 11:36 a.m.

    So the value that you put on yourself is a maple donut. They can do what they want with you including selling you out to anyone who pays or who hacks. You can be mined, mimed, copied, coerced. You can be tracked, whacked, gob-smacked. You have lost control. You are told what you like, what to do, where to go by those who paid to tell you, just for you right there on your personal friend. There are no laws to protect you. If you did this for a donut, what would you do for a Klondike bar ?

  3. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, February 18, 2014 at 4:46 a.m.

    One pastry vs one coffee??? Cheap. The only store card I regularly use is from Waitrose, who will give me a free, cappuccino *every day* if I want.

  4. Mike Skladony from Semcasting, Inc., February 18, 2014 at 9:20 a.m.

    Tyler...I think the important question here is....did you fill out that survey with factual information? Or bogus info? The data collected is fine and dandy as long as the survey taker is honest and true. With no upfront verification, not sure how valuable this sort of collection is.....similar to people who put bogus info into online surveys for just about thing (I do it all the time).

  5. Tyler Loechner from MediaPost, February 18, 2014 at 10:40 a.m.

    @Mike -- i did fill it out with factual info, but most of it was about my trip. "How would you rate your satisfaction?" .... "How would you rate the taste?" .... "What could be improved?" .... only a few questions at the end about my age group, gender, ethnicity, etc.

  6. Mike Skladony from Semcasting, Inc., February 18, 2014 at 10:44 a.m.

    @tyler....gotcha, so they weren't looking for name, e-mail, was mostly demographic insights? if so, that makes it a bit more useful data I suppose.

  7. Tyler Loechner from MediaPost, February 18, 2014 at 10:49 a.m.

    On the personal side, it was demographic. No email or name, though I suppose it's attached to my name via the receipt, but that would take some manual labor to find

  8. max sean from hsbc, February 19, 2014 at 12:42 a.m.

    Now, Starbucks have great martketing in Vietnam but people dont like it.

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