Starbucks launches new loyalty program

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Starbucks has launched a new customer loyalty program, Starbucks Gold Rewards, on the heels of a rewards program that started in April.

The new Gold program, which goes into wide release on November 4, offers a 10% discount on most in-store purchases. Gold membership costs $25 annually and offers its own card, which users are encouraged to register for additional benefits such as complimentary beverages on their birthdays. Starbucks Card Rewards, the program that launched earlier this year, provides members with free drink customizations and WiFi hours with the use of a pre-loaded Starbucks card.

“I think of Starbucks Gold as an evolution of the Starbucks Card Rewards program,” said Alisa Martinez, spokesperson for Starbucks. “Starbucks takes great care in listening to our customers, and we were finding that those customers who come to the stores most often were really looking for a heightened way to be recognized. Starbucks Gold evolved out of that feedback.

“Given the pressure on pocketbooks now, this is a great time to introduce more immediate, every day benefits,” she added.

A direct mail piece promoting Gold Rewards was sent to frequent Starbucks visitors last week. The mailing included a Gold card, information on the program and a link to www.starbucksgold.com, the program's microsite. Registered Starbucks Card Rewards members also have been directly invited to the program, and Martinez said the coffee chain will be highlighting the card as a gift idea this holiday season.

Starbucks will be monitoring card usage and registration (which is not required for use) to gauge the Gold program's success. At last count, Starbucks had close to 2 million registered Starbucks Card holders — 1.4 million of which had been registered since Starbucks Card Rewards debuted in April.

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