ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

Starbucks’ summertime sales push adds heaping of instant-win prizes

Starbucks is ushering in its annual Starbucks for Life promotion four months early this year, enabling rewards members to earn an instant win contest entry each time they make a purchase with its mobile application, displaying how marketers can use the element of surprise in their campaigns.

The Starbucks for Life promotion has historically taken place during the busy holiday season, when many customers come out in droves to purchase beverages in the coffee giant’s signature red winter cups. This year, Starbucks is rolling out the first-ever summer edition of the contest in a bid to convince more consumers to sign up for its loyalty program and make a purchase using its app.

“Starbucks is a strong marketer and Starbucks For Life looks like a smart promotion,” said Jon Burg, head of product marketing at AppsFlyer. “By making a purchase the means of entry for this mobile game, it has effectively connected its loyalty program with actual customer loyalty – which can be the holy grail of loyalty marketing.

“While Starbucks could have given away a free play once a week to entice customer participation, Starbucks likely knows that its target customer is a frequent patron and anticipates his or her willingness to make a purchase in order to unlock each game play is not a barrier.”

Playing for keeps
From now through September 12, Starbucks Rewards members aged 18 years and up will receive a game play entry for the Starbucks for Life instant win contest each time they make a purchase using the brand’s app or a registered Starbucks Card.

Game plays can be redeemed by visiting or on a mobile device or desktop, where consumers can receive Bonus Stars or digital game pieces that can be assembled on a game board.

Loyalty program members can collect game plays by making up to two purchases daily. However, the summer edition of the contest contains a new twist as well – customers can earn two bonus game plays each day if they spend $10 or more in a single transaction.

This totals up to four available entries per day, giving customers more chances to win.

Players can win prizes by collecting all of the game pieces required to fill in a horizontal row on their digital game board.

Seven individuals – five in the United States and two in Canada – will win Starbucks for life, while 30 customers will receive free Starbucks for a year.

Another 150 players will be gifted with complimentary Starbucks for a month, and 550 others will receive Starbucks for one week.

The instant-win prizes consist of Bonus Stars that will be awarded in increments of 125, 25, 10 and five.

Once Starbucks Rewards members accumulate a total of 125 Stars, they will earn a Reward that can be traded in for a free beverage or snack.

The coffee marketer will likely see its summertime sales spike even higher following the contest’s summer edition rollout.

Starbucks has been placing a venti-sized focus on sales this season, as evidenced by its decision to introduce a sunset menu, which offers treats such as granitas and trifles, available only after 3 pm.

The brand is also looking to unearth new streams of revenue by expanding its mobile payment capabilities to a wider range of consumers, this time rolling out its application for smartphones on the Windows 10 operating system (see story).

Uncapping potent opportunities
While mobile-optimized instant win games are typically beneficial for marketers seeking to boost their app download numbers, they are especially well-suited to quick service restaurant chains and food and beverage brands.

“As the always-on, ever-present channel, mobile apps offer a unique opportunity for QSR brands,” Mr. Burg said. “Mobile app-based instant win games are a great way for QSR chains to connect with and engage their customers, building lucrative brand preferences and product affinities.

“By incentivizing customers to enroll in and actively engage with a QSR’s mobile app while in-store, QSRs gain invaluable cross-channel insights into the customer and their purchase behavior,” he said. “The brand can learn which customer profiles prefer to engage with specific types of promotions.

“Measuring mobile app engagement data and customer profile data, a QSR can determine which retail locations the customer prefers and at what times during the day the customer is likely to make a purchase. Marketers can then leverage this data to send targeted offers as push messages when the customer is in the right location, at the right time of day to yield optimal results.”

Starbucks’ instant win promotions have enjoyed high user engagement in the past, corroborating this belief. The first annual Starbucks for Life campaign saw 13 million customers enter the contest (see story).

“The more that QSRs can connect their marketing and point-of-sale data, the better their customer profiles will be,” Mr. Burg said. “And with better data and customer insights, marketers can gain the ability to personalize, target and reward customers with more effective and resonant loyalty programs.”