Starbucks For Life? A Few Suggestions From a Frequent Customer

Yes, I am a Frequent Starbucks Customer


I am a little conflicted at times, but they treat their employees well for a coffee shop, they have a much better rewards program than most of the alternatives, and the coffee is fine.

Do I get annoyed waiting for the triple pumpkin spice latte that needed to be remade because the barista forgot to add enough Tibetan Yak Milk? Sure. 

Do I feel bad that they run lots of Mom and Pop places out of business? Sure. 

But, for the most part, I am a Starbuck's fan. I am certainly a frequent customer (see they have a great rewards plan).

Anyway, what does this have to do with Starbucks For Life?

Starbucks For Life

Starbucks for Life left me feeling grumpy.

With characters so adorable, you are probably wondering how I could be left feeling grumpy?

So, Starbucks just finished the Summer version of their Starbucks for Life contest and as a frequent customer, I had 100's of plays. 

If you are not familiar with the contest, you are given digital game pieces for every purchase you make and if you uncover the right combination of digital game pieces you can win:

Starbucks for Life

Starbucks for a Year

Starbucks for a Month

Starbucks for a Week

Or Star Rewards.

Unfortunately, what usually happens is that you accumulate all but one of every category and then continue to amass massive quantities of game pieces that you already have.

This should not matter, it doesn't cost me anything to play and I don't lose anything by collecting the pieces.

It should not matter...but, it kind of does.

After several months, I found myself hating it every time I saw one of those adorable but  non-winning faces uncovered over and over again. 

Maybe that is just my own perspective, but I bet it is widespread.

I am not talking about visceral anger or frustration here, I am talking about feeling like playing the game left me with a negative feeling about having played (and by association about the brand).

I suspect that the purpose of the game is to increase not decrease brand engagement? If so, perhaps it is time for some tweaks?

McDonald's figured this out a long time ago with the Monopoly game, sure not everyone wins a million dollars but I bet everyone wins a drink, an order of fries, or a burger during the promotion.

Fixing Starbucks For Life

Starbucks for Life is a great idea and the graphic designers are really talented. I still think that it needs at least one tweak from a gamification perspective.

My simple suggestion for fixing Starbucks For Life is this:

Offer new progressive rewards based on the number of otherwise irrelevant pieces that each customer collects.

In other words, "for every 5 Mochanut game pieces that you receive you earn a free or discounted Mocha drink".

Or for every seemingly wasted "Swim Kitty" you collect you get a random spin of the "Star Wheel" (providing another customer engagement opportunity with your loyalty program).

I suspect that by adding this simple additional layer, you would make customer satisfaction with your game nearly 100%.

What do you think, let me know your opinion, leave a comment!