Starbucks NFTs: A Loyalty Game Powered by Coffee
Starbucks Odyssey, an NFT-based loyalty platform, launches waitlist
This is a monster play.
And I don’t even drink coffee.
Starbucks is putting its thumb on the scale of where web3 and brands go next. Except instead of a thumb, it’s more of a Trenta-sized Frappuccino.
Two big things jump out to me.
1 – Starbucks is building what will likely be the largest membership-focused NFT collection to date.
2 – This isn’t just a loyalty program. It’s a game. They’re gamifying the NFTs by assigning them point values and unique rewards. This will directly encourage all members to collect multiple NFTs.
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Let’s break down some key pieces of Starbucks Odyssey.
Extension of Starbucks Rewards
Starbucks Rewards has over 28 million international users (and credit cards on file).
Odyssey members will log in to the web app using their Starbucks Rewards credentials and they plan to “deeply integrate” the two.
Starbucks Rewards is pay-to-earn. The more coffee you buy, the more free coffee you win.
Starbucks Odyssey is play-to-earn. You play games, complete challenges, or go on quests to earn experiences and limited edition merch.
One example of a challenge is to “try three things on the espresso menu.”
Odyssey is a bump in brand affinity on both ends. You spend more time with the brand to earn rewards. And those rewards get you to spend even more time with the brand.
Focus on Membership / Ownership
Odyssey NFTs will have two core utilities:
Give holders access to the Odyssey digital community
Reward holders with experiences and exclusive benefits
They’re dropping the word community a lot here. A Starbucks Discord isn’t launching anytime soon, but I expect the Odyssey app will have some type of asynchronous chat or forum feature.
Odyssey NFTs will be called stamps, a call back to the stickers Starbucks has included on their packaging and labels for 25 years.
Collecting these stamps will create a sense of ownership. Even for members who do not understand the underlying blockchain technology. The emotional impact of that is significant.
Earn, Buy, and Sell
Most of the NFTs will be play-to-earn “without having to spend a lot of money.”
You can also buy your way in by purchasing limited edition NFTs.
All NFTs can be bought and sold through the Starbucks Odyssey marketplace, enabled by Nifty Gateway, a well-established NFT market.
Games, Challenges, and Quests Oh My
What Starbucks has shared so far is big.
They’re nailing some of the emerging best practices for brand NFTs, namely: Membership focus, free access paths, and brand experience rewards.
They’re confident, tapping into one of their biggest successes and assets, Starbucks Rewards.
They’re building on that success with something that is more fun, less linear, and creates significant opportunities for storytelling and world-building.
What they’re creating reminds a lot of Adam Bomb Squad: a membership community focused on a wide range of unique rewards. But Starbucks is going much further.
Starbucks has led the way in retail with its Third Place strategy. Odyssey looks like a playful digital extension of that success.
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