Opinion: Starbucks’ new loyalty program

Samantha Karam is a sophomore journalism major. Contact her at [email protected]

Samantha Karam

College students hold Starbucks near and dear to their hearts. For some, a visit to Starbucks is a part of their everyday routine. That’s loyalty, and it deserves compensation.

The coffee powerhouse announced Monday it’s launching a new rewards program for its dedicated customers. The program still gives rewards like free drinks and gold card status after reaching a certain number of points, but the way in which consumers earn those points will change.

Presently, loyalty program members receive one point for every visit they make. With the new program, members will receive two points for every dollar they spend.

At a quick glance it seems like people will be earning more points and that will equate to more of a benefit in a shorter time, but in actuality, the same number of points will now cost customers a lot more time and money.  

“Right now, customers receive gold status once they’ve earned 30 stars in a year. That’s loosely equivalent to visiting Starbucks 30 times, if you don’t get any bonus points along the way,” according to a CNN Money article. “Gold members get a free food or beverage product after 12 stars.”

The article goes on to state that when the new rewards program begins, “customers will have to earn 300 stars — or spend close to $150 — to reach gold status. After that, they will need 125 stars (the equivalent to spending about $63) in exchange for a free item.”

I understand that the more you spend, the higher reward you’ll receive, but college students have little money to spend as it is, and with this new program, they’ll now have to spend more money to get the rewards they were getting before for less.

Also, some people like a simple cup of coffee, which is less expensive than the fancy Frappuccinos, but getting what they like no longer gives them the same rewards points as those who like more expensive drinks.

According to an ABC News article, “Starbucks says the change is the No. 1 request among loyalty program members and predicts it will lead to higher spending by customers eager to earn more stars.”

Customers took to Twitter, however, and they don’t seem excited about it at all. I know I’m not looking forward to it.

I think Starbucks should reconsider their approach because making it harder to receive rewards points doesn’t seem to be getting positive feedback.

Samantha Karam is an opinion columnist for the Kent Stater. For more information contact her at [email protected]