Starbucks’ grande effort to elite customers

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While I still contend that “now is the perfect time for McDonald’s to launch a loyalty program” before their incursion into latte territory wanes as the recession fades, I have to hand it to Starbucks.  One of their latest promotional soft benefits offers to Gold level Starbucks Rewards members is an exclusive opportunity to purchase Galapagos San Cristobal coffee beans in partnership with Gilt.

There is one main reason I find this Starbucks/Gilt partnership worth noting.  This luxurious, special offer to Starbuck Reward’s Gold members to buy before anyone else has access has cache.  And, it is the type of cache that directly reinforces the underpinnings of the Starbucks brand promise.  After all, customers originally flocked to Starbucks for $5 lattes for the experience and the everyday indulgence they offer.  So, when Starbucks offers a soft benefit like this that so closely aligns with their unique positioning in the market, that makes that brand promise tangible to customers.

In a very crowded loyalty marketplace, more companies should follow Starbucks’ lead in layering in rewards, soft benefits and promotional elements that bring their brand to life.  After all — in a commoditized marketplace, your company’s brand may be the only unique asset you can leverage.  Move beyond the promises of your brand messages to make it real and make it come to life.

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