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Caribou’s new loyalty program surprises customers with SMS rewards

Consumers can sign up for the new loyalty program, Caribou Perks, by sending an SMS with the keyword “Enroll” to 65017. Caribou will then send consumers surprise notifications when they are eligible for a new reward.

“Our guests have been asking for a loyalty program, and with Caribou Perks, our main focus is to reward our passionate fans with unexpected, surprise-and-delight rewards just for visiting our stores,” said Michele Vig, vice president of marketing at Caribou Coffee, Minneapolis. “With Caribou Perks, we’re looking to enhance the overall guest experience at Caribou coffeehouses nationwide, and of course, keep our coffeehouses interesting and exciting for our customers.

“We’ve tested and tweaked this program, and text messages have been an effective way of connecting with customers for sign-ups, and of informing them the instant they receive a reward,” she said. “Guests can also alter their communication method preferences if they would rather receive emails instead.”

Caribou Perks
Consumers can join the loyalty program by SMS or by visiting Caribou’s microsite at

To join, consumers must enter personal information such as address and birthday. If consumers fill out all of the information, including optional questions, they will receive a free medium beverage of their choice.

Consumers can either connect their loyalty account to an existing Caribou card or they can use their mobile phone number to check-in at stores.

The loyalty program will not keep track of points whereas competitor Starbucks does. Instead, the program will simply surprise consumers with random rewards.

The consumers will be notified by either SMS or email depending on their preference.

Caribou Perks rewards can be used within seven days from the date that they are first received. Consumers can view their rewards by signing into their account on the program’s microsite.

Caribou tested the loyalty program at a few of its locations, and based on its success, the company has decided to roll it out across all of its stores.

Mobile loyalty
The new loyalty program follows in the footsteps of another recent move from Caribou in mobile loyalty.

The coffee chain launched a new egift card program enabling customers to purchase and send personalized digital gift cards from mobile and desktop (see story).

Caribou is not alone in its efforts in mobile loyalty. Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks have been leaders in the space for some time now.

The Dunkin’ Donuts application lets consumers pay and earn rewards directly from the app itself. It is also integrated with Apple’s Passbook (see story).

Starbucks continues to lead the way in mobile loyalty with its popular app and rewards program. It also recently launched a tweet-to-buy program that lets consumers tweet a Starbucks gift card (see story).

While Caribou may be a bit late to the game, it is setting itself apart with the element of surprise. Instead of tracking how many purchases consumers make, Caribou will randomly reward consumers, adding a fun and different factor to the program.

“After enrolling in Caribou Perks, guests will be surprised with rewards just for visiting our locations,” Ms. Vig said. “What we can tell you is the more guests enjoy Caribou, the more we’ll reward them in unexpected ways, and that the perks will vary, including everyday items, special treats and unique offers.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York