Starbucks extending loyalty program into the metaverse with NFTs

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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starbucks odyssey graphic
Starbucks is integrating NFTs into its loyalty program.

Starbucks is moving forward with plans to establish a strong foothold in the emerging metaverse.

Following a May 2022 announcement that it intends to create a digital “third place” for customers using Web 3.0 technologies, Starbucks is unveiling Starbucks Odyssey. This new offering will provide Starbucks Rewards members and employees in the U.S. the opportunity to earn and purchase digital collectible NFT assets that will enable access to new benefits and immersive coffee experiences.

Overview of Starbucks Odyssey
Starbucks Odyssey will be an extension of the Starbucks Rewards digital loyalty program. Once logged in, members can engage in Starbucks Odyssey “journeys,” a series of omnichannel activities, such as playing interactive games or taking challenges. Members will be rewarded for completing journeys with a digital collectable “journey stamp.”

Journey stamps are NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Starbucks Rewards members can also purchase “limited-edition stamps” (NFTs) through a built-in marketplace within the Starbucks Odyssey web app. Limited-edition stamps will be available for all members to purchase directly with a credit card.  No crypto wallet or cryptocurrency will be required

Each digital collectable stamp will include a point value based on its rarity, and the stamps can be bought or sold among members within the marketplace, with ownership secured on a blockchain. As stamps are collected, members’ points will increase, unlocking access to benefits and experiences that have never been offered before, such as a virtual espresso martini-making class, access to unique merchandise and artist collaborations, or invitations to exclusive events at Starbucks stores and coffee farms.

All NFT stamps will feature Starbucks artwork co-created with Starbucks partners as well as outside artists. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of limited-edition stamps will be donated to support non-profit causes.

Customers can sign up for the waitlist at starting Monday, Sept. 12. Invitations will be sent to select waitlist members later in 2022.  As Starbucks Odyssey evolves, the company says it will continue to gather feedback from members and Starbucks partners, to help shape the program’s future.

“Starbucks has always served as the third place, a place between home and work where you feel the warmth of connection over coffee, community and belonging. The Starbucks Odyssey experience will extend the third-place connection to the digital world,” said Brady Brewer, Starbucks executive VP and chief marketing officer. “For the first time we are connecting our Starbucks Rewards loyalty program members not just to Starbucks, but to each other.

“Leveraging Web3 technology will allow our members to access experiences and ownership that was not possible before. Starbucks Odyssey will transcend the foundational benefits that our Starbucks Rewards members have come to love, and unlock digital, physical and experiential benefits that are uniquely Starbucks,” continued Brewer. “By integrating into the Starbucks Rewards ecosystem and grounding the experience in coffee, connection and community, we are entering the Web3 space differently than any other brand, while deepening our members’ connection to Starbucks. Our vision is to create a place where our digital community can come together over coffee, engage in immersive experiences, and celebrate the heritage and future of Starbucks.”

According to Starbucks, building Starbucks Odyssey using technology that aligns with corporate sustainability goals and commitments is a top priority. Starbucks has committed to reducing its carbon, water and waste footprints. The company says it will utilize a “proof-of-stake” blockchain technology built by Polygon, which uses less energy than first-generation “proof-of-work” blockchains.  

[Read more: Schultz hints at big changes for Starbucks ‘next chapter’]