Why Starbucks' new NFT loyalty programme is grounded in reality

Coffee chain follows McDonald’s and Wendy’s into the metaverse. But unlike virtual restaurants, Starbucks NFT rewards are tied into its existing loyalty ecosystem.

Starbucks has unveiled Odyssey, an extension to its 'Rewards' lotalty program that will allow customers to play games and earn and purchase NFTs.

Starting September 12, customers and employees can join the waitlist to receive access to the Starbucks Odyssey experience, which will launch later this year.

The program will be available in the US but it’s unclear if it will be expanded to stores around the world.

Masking the technology: entry level NFTs

There will be no need to use cryptocurrency or connect a crypto wallet to the platform, and branding seems to intentionally mask the technology involved to make the appeal as broad as possible.

Each NFT will have a points value based on its rarity, and customers can earn more tokens to unlock new rewards. Rewards will range from virtual expresso martini-making, an invite to events at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, and a trip to Costa Rica to visit one of the company’s coffee suppliers.

“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 vice president 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.”

Gamification via a new ‘journeys’ system

There will be a few different ways to collect the tokens, which Starbucks is calling “digital collectible stamps.”

By completing “journeys”, defined as playing games and quizzes, customers will earn “journey stamps.”

Users can also buy limited-edition stamps directly through the Starbucks Odyssey website.

To calm sustainability fears the company says Odyssey will use a proof-of-stake blockchain built by Polygon, which uses less energy than older ‘proof-of-work’ blockchains.

Brewer added: “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.”