Sep 12, 2022 - Economy

Starbucks says rewards members can soon earn and buy NFTs

Starbucks Coffee logo

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Starbucks is going beyond free coffee and deals with its longtime loyalty program: It will soon give members and employees the ability to buy and earn NFTs without using cryptocurrency.

Why it matters: Starbucks isn't the only chain testing NFTs in a push to appeal to younger consumers, but it's one of the first to integrate them into a loyalty program.

  • Last October, McDonald's had its first NFT for the McRib's 40th anniversary while Applebee's had a series of NFTs with unlimited steak meals in December.

Driving the news: Ahead of its investor day Tuesday, the company unveiled details of the web3-enabled Starbucks Odyssey, which will launch later this year. Starting today, Starbucks Rewards members and employees can join a waitlist.

  • Starbucks said it will utilize a technology that uses less energy than first-generation blockchains.

Catch up quick: NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital assets — often works of art, game characters and other creative products — that are recorded on a blockchain, or persistent digital ledger. Think of them as digital collectibles, Axios' Peter Allen Clark explains.

What they're saying: Brady Brewer, Starbucks executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement that the company is "entering the Web3 space differently than any other brand."

  • "Leveraging Web3 technology will allow our members to access experiences and ownership that was not possible before," Brewer said.

Starbucks NFTs coming soon

Starbucks Odyssey will be an extension of Starbucks Rewards with "journeys," interactive games and activities "to deepen their knowledge of coffee and Starbucks."

How it works: Members will be rewarded for completing journeys with NFTs, which the company is calling digital collectible stamps.

  • The stamps will also be available for purchase through a marketplace within the Starbucks Odyssey web app experience with a credit card.
  • Each digital collectible stamp will include a point value based on its rarity and Starbucks said the stamps can be bought or sold among members within the marketplace with ownership secured on a blockchain.

Meanwhile, rewards members' points will increase as stamps are collected "unlocking access to unique benefits and experiences that have never been offered before."

  • Experiences could range from a virtual espresso martini-making class, invitations to exclusive events at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, trips to Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica to access to unique merchandise and artist collaborations.

What's next: Starbucks said invitations will be sent to some waitlist members later this year.

Go deeper: Selling out an NFT collection is only the beginning

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