As college students at Boston University, regardless of our majors, the clubs we partake in and the housing we choose, we are all united by one thing. We love getting free stuff and, more importantly, we love free food. The roughly 1,400 members of the “Free Food For All” BU Facebook group can attest to that.
Honestly, getting college discounts and promotions takes off some of the edge of having to pay such a steep tuition fee. The desire to receive discounted goodies is not limited to college students. Case in point: Black Friday. Everyone loves a good promotion, and businesses worldwide take advantage of this inclination toward locking down a good buy. For example, Starbucks will switch up its My Starbucks Rewards system to one that is more revenue-based, and customers are not happy with the development.
Starbucks currently gives customers a star for every visit, regardless of how much money a consumer spends during that visit. After collecting 12 stars, customers were then entitled to a free drink of their choice. Starting April, according to the Starbucks Newsroom, the coffee shop will give customers two stars for every dollar spent at the store, and after accumulating 125 stars, customers can get a free item.
It is easy to see why this advancement has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. People could get away with spending little to earn that free drink, but they will soon have to spend roughly $62 to benefit from the updated rewards program, according to Fortune. The ordinary consumer not interested in fancy (and more expensive) frappuccinos and lattes will certainly fail to reap the benefits of the new system.
People are complaining that if they continue to visit Starbucks the same number of times as before and purchase a simple black coffee, they will be the ultimate losers. Others, however, are happy with this evolution of the rewards program, as they always thought it to be unfair that they received the same number of stars as another customer even though they spent tons of cash on Starbucks’ more sumptuous drinks.
I am not a regular at Starbucks and hence, I do not have a Gold membership card and have a fairly neutral stance on the decision. I understand where the complaints are coming from, however, and I would be mad too if I was no longer entitled to a free item every 12 visits.
But I have to admit that Starbucks made a brilliant business decision. Starbucks currently dominates much of the quick-service restaurant market, and consumer loyalty to Starbucks is immeasurable. I know friends who absolutely cannot get by without a cappuccino or a Frappuccino on a daily basis. Just the fact that three Starbucks stores lie in the Kenmore vicinity speaks to the popularity of the chain.
This switch to a revenue-based rewards program will benefit not only the big spenders at Starbucks, but also Starbucks itself. Every customer will be forced to buy roughly $62 worth of products from Starbucks before they are worthy of the free drink. Furthermore, it will helps lines move faster, as consumers will no longer have to break up the items they buy into separate receipts to get the 12 stars quicker. While I am not keen to admit it, the new rewards system definitely promotes equality — you get a fair number of stars for every dollar spent.
I am certain that the backlash will die down within a couple of weeks. Starbucks is far too popular for people to boycott the chain completely. Plus, if you really want to spite Starbucks and get a bang for your buck, you could always try to break the record for the most expensive drink bought at Starbucks when you are due for your free drink. Or you know, just make your own coffee at home. I promise the Nescafé sachets really aren’t all that bad!