Starbucks offers a great deal: You can access its free Wi-Fi without even buying a beverage, although few of us would do such a thing.
But now there’s a price: Your email address. The coffee chain is trying out that requirement.
“Starbucks is currently testing automated login to our Wi-Fi network at US company-operated Starbucks stores,” a spokesman confirms following media reports on the test. “We see this as an opportunity to form a deeper digital relationship with our customers by offering more convenient access to unlimited Wi-Fi and delivering more benefits in the form of email offers.”
The spokesperson continues: “With just one login per device, customers who opt-in will be able to connect to the internet without having to register each time they enter a Starbucks store providing a seamless experience. Unlimited Wi-Fi will still be available to all customers, regardless of their participation, and those who do opt-in can expect to receive weekly emails with information about our stores, products and programs to enrich their Starbucks Experience.”
The initiative is part of a larger group of efforts that will help the chain build out its Starbucks Rewards program, said Scott Maw, executive VP and chief financial officer of Starbucks Corp., speaking at the recent UBS Global Consumer and Retail Conference.
Maw stated that “if you want to use Wi-Fi in Starbucks, we’re going to make it easy for you. Enter your email once, every time you walk into the store, it automatically connects to Wi-Fi, and you don’t have to accept the terms and conditions again.”
He added: "That allows you to have the convenience of connection. It allows us to have the ability to have those email addresses."
Maw added that between this offer and another that the chain is considering, “we’ll have several million non-Starbucks Rewards relationships by the end of tis year.”
There are about 15 million 90-day-active Starbucks Rewards members among the 75 million people who visit its locations each month, Maw said. That leaves 60 million who are not digitally connected to the firm.
He noted that there are “millions of customers that are 91-plus-day active" and said, "we’re reactivating those customers. We’ve been marketing to them for a while now and having some success in converting them, but we’re going to go far deeper.”
How will Starbucks achieve that?
“The offers will be richer, because we know they pay off, and we’re going to try to get that previously active base reactivated,” Maw said.