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Starbucks’ latest mobile win stars customized app home page, loyalty integrations

To supplement the launch of its revamped rewards program – which enables members to redeem deals via the Mobile Order & Pay platform – Starbucks is rolling out a redesigned application that showcases content personalized to each user, a first for the digitally savvy brand.

Starbucks app users will now be able to enjoy a sleeker experience that tailors content specifically to each customer, including a personalized homepage and a playlist showing the tunes playing overhead in the coffee chain’s stores. The brand is highly focused on creating a cohesive mobile ecosystem for consumers, suggesting that other food and beverage marketers should hop on the personalization bandwagon if they want to retain their app users’ interest.

“We’re entering the age of the connected individual and as a consequence, we’re seeing the rise of the connected marketer,” said Michael Becker, managing partner at mCordis. “Insight and understanding about the individual being served is critical, including one of the most important insights: a person’s current location.

“In the connected age, personalized experiences are not a nice-to-have; they are a must for sustainable competitiveness. Starbucks has been and will continue to lead in this area.”

Heating up interactivity
Starbucks’ 17 million app users will now experience a more personalized homepage and receive a plethora of tailored offers. Customers who walk into their local Starbucks store can browse the “Now Playing” playlist to discover the names of songs regaling consumers, which could prompt them to purchase favorite songs from the iTunes store.

Additionally, the coffee giant is featuring an interactive Stars display, making it even simpler for Starbucks Rewards members to track their current earnings. The display includes a touchscreen that allows individuals to use their finger as a magnet to design their own constellations of Stars.

This tool is likely to inspire consumers to stay up-to-date with their rewards accounts. For example, if they glance at the display and see that the interactive cup is nearly full of Stars, they may decide to make an impromptu purchase to reach a new loyalty level.

The brand claims that more personalized content is still in development. However, caffeine enthusiasts can expect to see additional rollouts happen soon, thanks to Starbucks’ dedication to pursuing strategic cross-partnerships.

Customers will also be able to earn Star rewards at stores outside of Starbucks, which may thicken the competition stakes for other quick service restaurant chains.

For example, if a frequent coffee drinker with no inclination toward a specific brand is deciding whether to sign up for Dunkin’ Donuts’ DD Perks program or Starbucks Rewards, he or she may find the scales tip in Starbucks’ direction with the knowledge that rewards can be earned outside of the chain’s shops.

Frothing up loyalty integrations
The app update also includes the ability for consumers to redeem earned offers via Mobile Order & Pay, Starbucks’ order-ahead platform. Therefore, if a customer has a free beverage reward waiting in his or her Starbucks Rewards account, he or she can opt to use that deal when placing an order via mobile and eliminate the need to use a credit card during the transaction.

Previously, rewards had to be redeemed in-person.

“It is clear from Starbucks’ efforts that its team is doing everything it can to be of service to the connected individual and to reduce as much friction out of his or her life,” Mr. Becker said. “Therefore, to me, adding the ability to redeem rewards and offers through Mobile Order & Pay is a natural evolution of the Starbucks offering.

“The reduction of the friction of engagement will delight people and drive them to the behaviors that benefit them and Starbucks alike.”

Starbucks’ Mobile Order & Pay has received a warm reception from consumers since its national rollout in September 2015. It currently processes over seven million orders monthly, and is set to make its debut in China and Japan later this year as the app heads towards driving 50 percent of the chain’s purchases within the next few years (see story).

Innovating within its flagship app is not the only strategy in Starbucks’ repertoire of revenue-driving tricks.

Last month, the coffee marketer drove springtime sales with a new microsite for its Happy Mondays events that let visitors add the special offers to their mobile calendars, ensuring that fans would not miss any of the weekly promotions (see story).

“Starbucks is the preeminent connected marketer,” Mr. Becker said. “It understands that being of service, imagination, creating and valuable content and services will win the day.

“Starbucks is and will continue to set the gold standard for individual-centric marketing and experience. In this regard, we are all competing with Starbucks since Starbucks is setting many of the expectations for what people want from mobile and the connected experience.”