Starbucks Announces Blockchain Loyalty Program

Starbucks’ NFT rewards loyalty program now has a name: Starbucks Odyssey.

The company’s web3 platform opened its waitlist on Monday, but says it will not launch until later this year. 

Building off the company’s successful rewards program in which customers earn “stars” that can be redeemable for free drinks and other rewards, Starbucks Odyssey will allow customers to earn and purchase digital assets (NFTs) that unlock exclusive experiences and rewards while helping to build a community of coffee enthusiasts.

Hints of the project were originally announced in May by the company’s chief marketing officer Brady Brewer, and Adam Brotman, who created mobile and order pay as well as the Starbucks app.

“The themes of these collections will be born of Starbucks artistic expressions, both heritage and newly created, as well as through world-class collaborations with other innovators and like-minded brands,” Brewer and Brotman wrote.

They also mentioned that NFTs will be used as a potential additional revenue stream for the company. 

Brotman is now the co-founder of Forum3, a web3 loyalty startup. Brotman and his team worked on Starbucks Odyssey alongside Starbucks’ marketing, loyalty, and technology teams. 

Brewer told TechCrunch that Starbucks has only been involved in this project for about six months, and that the company wanted to use web3 and blockchain technology to enhance its business and expand its existing loyalty program. 

NFTs will act as passes that customers can use to access the loyalty program and digital community, but details of the web3 technology involved have not been revealed.

“It happens to be built on blockchain and web3 technologies, but the customer — to be honest — may very well not even know that what they’re doing is interacting with blockchain technology. It’s just the enabler,” Brewer explained to TechCrunch.

To access Starbucks Odyssey, Starbucks Rewards members will log in to the new web app using their existing loyalty program credentials. From there, they can go on “journeys” -- interactive games and challenges surrounding the Starbucks brand. 

Completing “journeys” will earn them NFT collectibles, or “journey stamps.”

A limited-edition NFT collection will also be available for purchase in the Starbucks Odyssey web app, and customers can buy them on the Polygon blockchain with a credit or debit card. 

By renaming NFTs “journey stamps” and disregarding the need for a crypto wallet, the company attempting to make Starbucks Odyssey as accessible and desirable to as much of the public as possible. 

Featured NFTs are not priced out as of yet, and it is still unclear how many of them there will be. They will be able to be bought or sold in the marketplace among members. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to support causes chosen by Starbucks employees and customers.

The more stamps members collect, the more points they will have to spend  -- on experiences and products ranging from a virtual espresso martini-making class to unique merchandise, artist collaborations, and even special events and trips to the Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica. 

This includes everyday challenges and experiences, such as trying three different espresso drinks.  

Brewer says the company wants to make access to NFTs widely available -- not only to those who have a lot of money to spend on NFTs. 

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