We introduced the Starbucks Card in November 2001, and, within eight months, we saw 4 million activated. We got the message quickly: Customers wanted a simple way to buy their daily cup.
But it took time – and a wake-up call – to realize that we needed to do more to recognize and incentivize our regulars. So we decided to implement our first-ever rewards program, offering free refills on brewed coffee, a free drink with every pound of beans purchased and free drink customization for members (we’d come a ways since our debate over nonfat milk!).
New rewards programs can be hard to launch, but we had an in: Millions already had Starbucks Cards. They registered online, and the perks were theirs.
After Starbucks Card Rewards made its debut in spring 2008, a Gold loyalty program followed later that year. The programs combined in 2009 to create My Starbucks Rewards, with welcome, green and gold levels. Now integrated within our mobile app, the program is still sweetening the experience for customers.