While some of us pine for the old days and simplicity of store loyalty punch cards (“Buy 10 get 1 free”), the digital era of rewards memberships does offer convenience. But it’s also easier for companies to change their rewards program requirements, as highlighted by a recent announcement from Starbucks that increases the requirements for their loyal customers to earn free drinks and food by up to 100%.
As noted by the travel site One Mile at a Time, the “stars” you earn for each purchase at Starbucks are going to be worth a lot less starting on February 13, 2023. The most egregious update? A mere 50 stars used to get you a brewed coffee, bakery item or tea; in two months, you’ll need to have 100. Meanwhile, 200 stars previously allowed you a choice of a free lunch sandwich, protein box or salad, but that’s soon getting a 50% bump to 300 stars.
Conversely, the number of stars necessary for iced coffee, iced tea, packaged coffee and some merchandise will actually decrease by up to 50%.
“We occasionally need to make changes to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Starbucks Rewards program and to meet the changing needs of our members,” as the company told Yahoo Finance.
Active Starbucks Rewards membership was up 16% in the U.S. in Q4 to 28.7 million members, so any grumbling by members will probably be offset by…well, more profits for Starbucks. It’s a shame that the company is devaluing its loyalty program, which saw the introduction of an actually interesting Web3 tie-in called Starbucks Odyssey earlier this fall, which allowed customers to earn and purchase digital assets that unlocked experiences and rewards already tied in to the existing Starbucks Rewards program.
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