starbucks rewards_logoI caught this Chicago Tribune story about how Starbucks is combining its Gold Card program, and its Starbucks Card Rewards, into a new program called My Starbucks Rewards (MSR) on December 26th!

Merry Christmas to me?   Nope…don’t think so!

MSR replaces the Gold Card’s 10% discount and $25 annual fee with a tiered rewards program that offers free birthday drinks, free refills and free Wi-Fi.

Starbucks is hoping to drive brand loyalty with the new program, but I doubt it will work.

Driving performance with incentive programs is one thing (e.g., limited time offer to drive consumer trial on a new product etc.), but loyalty programs are a whole different matter.

I’m not a fan of loyalty programs.

Think about people and businesses and other things you are loyal to and ask yourself, “Why?”

For me it’s family, friends, clients, my BrandMill team – Stephanie, Sam and Angie my dry cleaner, Jackie who cuts my hair and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Penguins.


They all deliver on their promises which show care, concern and respect for me, my time and y investment in them. In addition, they all deliver remarkable, consistent favorable experiences.

Aren’t these the same kinds of reasons you’re loyal to someone or something?

You can’t buy or extort loyalty with MSR cards, Gold cards or any other card.

You earn loyalty by showing customers care and concern and delivering on your promises.

As for Starbucks, for them to earn my loyalty, I don’t need a card. I’m sure a great deal of other people don’t need another card as well. For me, they can drop prices on a straight cup of coffee or tea speed up their drive-through. I love Starbucks bold black coffee and teas with no frills, but I don’t love it THAT much to put up with slow service and high prices.