Starbucks restructures loyalty program to reward dollars spent rather than number of store visits

Starbucks will now reward its loyalty members based upon dollars spent rather than number of store visits.

Come April, loyalty members in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico will earn two stars every time they spend one dollar, a departure from its current one-star-per-visit model.

During a call announcing the change, chief strategy officer of Starbucks Matthew Ryan said that the update is in response to the “number one request received” by customers.

“By designing it in this way, we are providing opportunities for our customers to earn more rewards each time they visit, and will increase the value of our program to our customers and to us,” Ryan said on the call.

While the change will likely benefit Starbucks sales since it encourages loyalty members to buy more, Ryan said on the call that it will also help lines move faster in stores since under the past model, some customers were requesting baristas to ring up items separately in order to get more stars.

Under the new system, “gold status” customers who earn 125 stars will be rewarded with a free beverage or food item. In the past, “gold status” customers had to visit a Starbucks store 12 times in order to get their reward.

Ryan noted that the new system is not meant to penalize low-spenders. He said that the average customer spends about $5 per visit, meaning they’d end up spending about $60 under the old one-star-per-12-visits system to get a free item. With the update, customers who spend about $5 per visit will still have to go to Starbucks roughly 12.5 times to earn their reward.

However, it will end up hurting those who spend under $5 per visit since they'll now have to make significantly more visiits to the Seattle-based coffee chain in order to get their free item.

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