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Starbucks Rewards – the coffee giant's loyalty program – is one of the most successful in the industry, in part because of how well it's embraced technology like the Starbucks App. Now, the chain appears poised to take another technological jump with an announcement on details of new NFT features slated for next month.
Back in May, Starbucks' chief marketing officer Brady Brewer – along with advisor Adam Brotman, who has worked on previous digital initiatives for the chain – provided an outline on the idea of "creating the digital Third Place." ("Third Place" is Starbucks' beloved term for places people hangout at besides work and home.) The article posted to Starbucks Stories was a mix of unanswered questions and broad strokes, at one point admitting "the particular technology that has captured our imagination is NFTs (non-fungible tokens)."
Brewer and Brotman wrote, "We plan to create a series of branded NFT collections, the ownership of which initiates community membership, and allows for access to exclusive experiences and perks. 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." But from there, they said only that these NFTs would arrive "later this year."
However, for Starbucks NFT lovers (if they exist), TechCrunch noticed that an announcement date for the new Web3 initiative was tucked into Starbucks most recent earnings call. On Tuesday, interim CEO Howard Schultz concluded his opening remarks by stating, "We have been working on a very exciting new digital initiative that builds on our existing industry-leading digital platform in innovative new ways all centered around coffee and, most importantly, loyalty that we will reveal at Investor Day."
Starbucks' Investor Day is slated for September 13 – and so, in theory, details will finally emerge in a little over a month.
Schultz did offer a few more peeks into the program, albeit with the usual earnings call jargon, adding, "We believe this new digital Web3-enabled initiative will allow us to build on the current Starbucks Rewards engagement model with its powerful spend-to-earn Stars approach while also introducing new methods of emotionally engaging customers, expanding our digital third place community, and offering a broader set of rewards, including one-of-a-kind experiences that you can't get anywhere else, integrating our digital Starbucks Rewards ecosystem with Starbucks-branded digital collectibles as both a reward and a community building element."
The site TechCrunch suggests the biggest reveal here is that it's the first time Starbucks has stated that NFTs would be tied to the Starbucks Rewards program, meaning that purchasing NFTs could potentially earn customers rewards or, conversely, NFTs could be provided as a benefit.
And yet, none of this deals with the question of whether people will want Starbucks NFTs. Back in January, the Independent reported on analysis from Chainalysis that found, over a ten month period, only 360,000 people actually owned NFTs despite over 300 million people using cryptocurrency. Will Pumpkin Spice Latte lovers be the ones to help bring NFTs to the mainstream? We may soon find out.


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