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Holy Unboxing Batman! Starbucks' Odyssey NFT Project Wraps 2023 With Gifts for Program Participants

In this episode of the Blockchain Journal podcast, Blockchain Journal editor-in-chief David Berlind unboxes a care package from the Starbucks' Odyssey NFT-based customer loyalty and engagement program. Clad in his "My Mom Thinks I Work at Bitcoin" t-shirt (thanks Alchemy!), David first explains how the Odyssey program worked throughout 2023 (he was an active participant) and how he worked his way into a special tier of accumulated points that earned him access to the physical items in the box.

Blockchain Customer Experience (BCE)

Customer Engagement


Food and Beverage

By David Berlind

Published: February 16, 2024

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16 min read

In this Story
Nifty Gateway NFT MarketplaceNifty Gateway NFT Marketplace

One by one, he picks through the contents of the box, which include a Starbucks Odyssey-branded MiiR mug, a Starbucks Odyssey hoodie, a coffee passport guidebook (sort of like a wine taster's diary, but for coffee drinkers), a sticker pack featuring images of some of the NFT stamps that he earned throughout 2023, and a canvas tote bag adorned with the Starbucks Odyssey logo.

While Starbucks isn't tying these particular physical items to the NFTs themselves like other global brand enterprise programs have, David discusses Starbucks' chosen blend of the physical and digital realms (often referred to as a "phygital" strategy in blockchain circles). Starbucks came closest to this marriage when it issued large MiiR tumblers to the holders of its siren NFT (Starbucks uses the word "Stamp" instead of "NFT"). A siren is a special type of mermaid that Starbucks has chosen as the centerpiece of its iconic logo, and each MiiR mug that the coffee house issued to siren NFT holders bore images of the sirens on their NFTs.

David offers insights into the Starbucks Odyssey program's mechanics throughout the unboxing, including accumulating points through various activities and tier-based benefits selection. David also notes the personal data implications of participating in such programs, noting the additional personal information, such as shipping addresses, that Starbucks could not have otherwise gathered were it not for how the Odyssey program works.



Audio-Only Podcast



Full-text transcript of David Berlind's Unboxing of Starbucks' Odyssey 2023 NFT Project Gifts for Program Participants

Today is February 2nd, 2024. I'm David Berlind, and this is the Blockchain Journal podcast.

You know, every now and then around the offices of Blockchain Journal, we like to get our degen on, and this is one of those days because I've got an unboxing video for you that I'm going to do right here in front of the camera.

I've got my "My Mom Thinks I Work at Bitcoin" T-shirt on, that's from Alchemy. Thanks, guys, from the team at Alchemy, for furnishing this t-shirt to me. You probably don't even remember when I got it. I don't even remember when I got it. Doesn't matter.

It's Friday; it's time to get our degen. And the unboxing video that we're going to do today is a box of stuff that came from Starbucks, the Starbucks Odyssey NFT program. Kind of cool, right?

Well, it's a nice little box here. And, I want to talk a little bit about how this box came to arrive at my offices here. And the way this happened is that last year, when Starbucks really got its NFT program going – the Odyssey program – they had all sorts of journeys and games and all kinds of NFTs that you could buy throughout the year. And depending on what you did in the NFTs – NFT program, for example – if you bought some NFTs, you might earn a certain number of points. If you went through a journey, like you visited a few stores or maybe you bought some coffee or you learned a little bit more about the brand, you went on the Coffee Heritage journey, there was all sorts of these little activities that you could partake in throughout the year that earned you even more points.

Now, the way the Starbucks Odyssey program works is that as you earn these points through the activities that you're partaking in, through the things that you're buying in the stores, through the journeys you're going on, as you accumulate these points, you move up in the different tier levels. They have these different point tiers in the Odyssey program. And then depending on what tier you are at, at the end of the year, you got to select certain benefits. Now, there were a couple of times during the year where you got to pick some benefits, but at the end of the year, you got to pick a really big benefit, depending on whether you were in tier one... There were as many as five tiers altogether. And so I was in tier four. I joined late.

By the time I joined, they had already sold one of their NFTs – and like they sold out the whole collection, the siren collection in 18 minutes – I think it was. These were NFTs that they were selling, and if you bought one of these, you would get an NFT with the siren on it. Now the siren is... You know, a lot of people think... Here's my cup of coffee. I'm getting my Starbucks on here, guys. Here's my cup of coffee. Right here. The siren is actually... It's this character right here in the middle of the logo. A lot of people think that's a mermaid – and a siren is kind of a mermaid – and you learn all about this when you're going through the Odyssey program because you kind of have to go through a couple journeys where you get educated on the brand.

And so, the people who opted in for the siren collection and got their NFT also got this really cool mug with a matching NFT. I'm sorry, with the visage on the side of the mug, it was a MiiR tumbler, was actually the same as the visage of your NFT, the siren on your NFT.

So, that was kind of neat and a little bit of what I think would be called a phygital play, where you're combining the physical world and the digital world. But, unlike some other NFT programs, the physical item wasn't like digitally tied to the digital item. We see some cases where, for example, there are NFC chips going into physical items, and those NFC chips have some information on them that ties them to a specific NFT so that the two are what they call digital twins or phygital twins – physical and digital.

So, Starbucks didn't really get the whole phygital thing going in this [past] year. I mean, they kind of hinted at it and I don't know if they've got more coming. But what they did do was they sent a box to me, and this is a result of me being in tier four, and I picked this benefit like when you were in these tiers, it gave you a choice like "What benefits do you want?" And so, I just... I don't even remember what the benefit was that I picked, but it's all in this box. And so, I thought what I would do is I would just kind of open the box here in front of all of you so, you know, be a surprise to me and a surprise to you at the same time.

And you know, one thing that's important to keep in mind is that the way the Starbucks program works is they actually work with Nifty Marketplace to not only keep track of what NFTs all of their users have. It's called a custodial wallet for those of you who don't... are not familiar with wallet technology. They hold the wallet for you and all the digital assets in there. You can export them to other wallets and I've been through that process, and it's kind of clunky. But, they maintain the digital wallet for you. And then, they have a private labeled marketplace from Nifty. And what I mean by that is that Nifty Marketplace offers the ability to white label their technology to put whatever branding you want around their marketplace, and that's exactly what Starbucks has elected to do, is they've white labeled the nifty marketplace in the way that now they have a Starbucks NFT marketplace, and that's where you go to buy NFTs, not only from Starbucks, but you can actually buy the NFTs from each other. And another cool thing about the program is that you can engage in US dollars. So you can buy NFTs with fiat currency, US dollars. You don't need cryptocurrency. And this is one of those examples of an enterprise global brand where they're trying to make it so it's not so difficult for people who don't know a lot about blockchain or cryptocurrency to get involved.

So, I think it's time. Let's go ahead and do the big reveal here. I've got my Starbucks Odyssey box. And by the way, if we just take a look at the box here... You know, the top of the box has got the logo on it here.

Maybe you can see that you've got, if we flip the box up here on its side, you can see that there's a QR code and they want you to scan that for your next adventure. And you know, we can definitely give that a scan before this whole thing's over. It says Starbucks Odyssey beta. And that's an important thing because this is still a beta program. Not everybody who's in the general Starbucks loyalty program – the rewards program is what they call it, the stars program – is in the Odyssey program. You had to sign up for it, wait on a waiting list, and then get admitted. So it's a little bit of a process there, and you had these two programs running side by side. They're a little bit coordinated in some cases, but not... There's not a lot of overlap between them. And that's basically the box here.

So, let's go ahead and let's give it an open. I've got my little handy-dandy knife here, and let's give it a... There we go. It's a green box. This is very familiar... And oh boy! Okay, so this is going to be cool.

First of all, I see that we've got... I'll pull this out first. This is a MiiR mug. And if you remember, I was just telling you that the siren mugs that they gave out that match the siren NFTs were made by MiiR as well, M-i-i-R. This is not a big, tall one like that one was, but this one's called the Camp Cup – right there. So we'll kind of... Let's open this up and see what it looks like. All right. Oooh! So this is pretty cool!

If you look at this real quick here, you can see it says Starbucks Odyssey on it. [It's a] nice cool black mug and [it] looks like it says that this is some branding from MiiR itself. It says, "We're bridging the gap between business and philanthropy." So, this is more about MiiR, less about Starbucks. I'm not sure there's anything else... There's a little thing in the cup here. Let's see what this is. This is more about MiiR as well. So, I'm just going to go ahead and put this back together. So, just one more time you can see that it's the Starbucks Odyssey beta right there. Okay, so I've got myself a pretty cool MiiR mug. All right, let's see what else I'm going to get as a result of being in the program.

All right, so we've got a card here, and I'll hold that up in front of you. And it says, "Thank you for being a Starbucks Odyssey member. You have unlocked your reward for the benefit selection period. Continue to complete journeys, collect stamps..." That's a good point because the NFTs in the Odyssey program are not called NFTs. They call them "stamps." And again, that's another way of kind of taking the blockchainy part of the Starbucks Odyssey program out of the user experience, making it more user-friendly. They call them stamps and earn points. "...With more yet to come, this is just the beginning of your Starbucks Odyssey adventure." And it says... It gives me a QR code again to scan for my next adventure right here. So, I'll be sure to do that and see where that leads me.

[It] looks like I've got a Starbucks Coffee Passport. That looks pretty cool. It's a little... It says "Your Guide to the World of Coffee." And so, let's see and open it up. It's kind of a book here, if you can see that. And so let's get in and see what... There's a... I'm opening it up here, and we can see that... there's all sorts of information about coffee. It's almost kind of like these notebooks that you see for wine, where you have different wines and you can make notes about them. So there's some information here about how coffee is made, how to brew coffee, and then what to look for in terms of the aroma and acidity. And then, if you kind of go to the different brands of coffee – or the different blends of coffee that Starbucks has – you can make some notes about them. You can talk about... Like this is the Veranda brand and it gives you some of the characteristics. But then you can put your own tasting notes in there. And I don't know if you can see that up here, but yeah, you get to put your own tasting notes.

So this is a whole kind of way to experience coffee and experience all the different blends that Starbucks has to offer. There's nothing that's particularly Odyssey-branded about this book, but... So I don't know if it's just available to Odyssey members or not, but we'll put that one down now and we'll see what else we've got here.

So, we also have what looks like to be a sticker pack. And the stickers, there – it says Starbucks Odyssey on the top. And these stickers are essentially... Those are the stamps; those are the NFTs that were earned throughout the year. And I guess I could probably open this up if I'm just real careful, because I don't know if there's more to this than just what we're seeing on the surface. So let's go ahead and open it up and see what we have inside, just in case there's anything that we're missing that I want to show you. So, I'm going to tear this apart. I don't want to rip anything by mistake. All right. So, there we have... We've got it open and... Oh! We have... These are more of the different stamps that were given out throughout the year. So we have... This is basically kind of like a record of what happened throughout the year of 2023. All the different stamps that were given out to the different members, and so on. So that's cool. I got a bunch of stamps, adhesive stamps. So, I'm going to put those on the side.

And let's see. This is the... This is the hot one – the the best part of it all. It looks like we've got a hoodie here. Yep, a Starbucks Odyssey hoodie, and I'll be... I don't know. Should I wear this? Or maybe... Should I kind of save it as a collectible thing and then sell it along with some NFTs like a – as a companion piece of some NFTs? But this is a really, really nice black hoodie. And I do remember saying that I wanted the hoodie, and I got the size that's my size. So, there you go. Nice. Nice... It's not a zip-up, it's a solid hoodie. And on the hoodie – on the on the breast – is the Starbucks Odyssey... Oh, no, it's just across the chest, if you will. It's the Starbucks... Whoops! Let's get this focus going there... The Starbucks Odyssey beta logo. All right. So, I'm going to put that over on the side.

And then the very last thing that we have here is some sort of like a messenger bag, or tote bag. And [let me] get this out of the way. And so, this is kind of like – a canvas feel to it. And I'll hold this up here so you can see that. And there you have the Starbucks Odyssey logo... And there's the siren right there. So if you kind of... Where, right here, if you look at this... If you look at this kind of mermaid figure here, that's the siren. And this looks like the siren that was on the side a lot of those mugs that were sold in that first NFT sale that Starbucks closed in like 18 minutes. So, it's just a nice little bag here to carry stuff around in, maybe if you go to the beach or something like that.

So, there you have it. So we've got the Starbucks Odyssey bag. We've got this really cool MiiR mug with the Starbucks Odyssey logo on it. We've got the hoodie... [let me] put the hoodie back in the box. We've got the stickers here, lots of fun stickers, a whole collection of them. And we've got the book. So, that's it. That's the whole collection of what's in the box. So I'm looking forward to enjoying some of these items or maybe I'll sell them with the NFTs as a collection, 'cause that's what some people do, is they sell... That's how you kind of make money in the NFT world. You sell these combinations of physical and digital things together. Although I think I'm just going to keep it for myself. I don't think... I'm not in it for the money. I'm in it so that I could bring these experiences to other enterprises and global brands so they can get an idea of what a leading brand like Starbucks is doing and can learn from it.

Now, one of the interesting things that I want to point out is that Starbucks, prior to me joining the honesty program, [I] really didn't know anything about me other than my email address through the Starbucks rewards program, maybe what coffee I bought and where I bought it. But now, they know where I live. They got an additional piece of information because they had to ship this to me. I'm not saying that's a really big deal, but if you look at a lot of these different programs, they do try to figure out like, "Okay, well, where's this person live? Can we get their physical address? Can we ship them something?" And that's an additional piece of personal information that a lot of companies like to have is, "Where does this person live?" So that's how this, you know, there is a side benefit to them when it comes to shipping – shipping something like this to me.

And this is not the first thing they shipped to me. They also shipped a poster to me earlier this year, and that poster, you know, was again something that I got to pick because of where I was in those tiers of benefits somewhere mid-year and was just a poster of one of the different stamps. In fact, I think if I'm not mistaken, it was a poster of the Tiger stamp right here. So, that's the poster that I got.

So now, in 2024, all your points if you're in the Starbucks Odyssey program just get completely wiped out. You're not in any tiers anymore, and you have to start over again. But, I think what Starbucks did here was they said, "Hey, look, be... We know we're wiping out all of those points. You did all this work all throughout 2023 and now we're cleaning your points out. So, we're not going to leave you high and dry. We're going to give you something for having achieved those points."

And that's basically what happened here. So, with that, I'm going to wrap it up. I hope you enjoyed this unboxing video. Leave some comments if you have some thoughts.

If you want to come back for more great videos that help you and other global brands understand what it is that they can be doing with blockchain. Not just NFT-based customer engagement and loyalty programs but all sorts of other applications of blockchain to enterprises and global brands. Then, just come back to Blockchain Journal and click on the videos icon in the left-hand navigation. We have tons of videos and other interviews that we do with people from all over the blockchain industry.

We have all of the different NFT programs as well as other blockchain projects in our Enterprise Blockchain Adoption Tracker. You can see that in the top right-hand corner of blockchainjournal.com or on the left-side, just click on projects, and it'll lead you to all these projects that we not only have a record of, but we also try to track how those projects were built. For example, the augmented reality part of the Starbucks Odyssey experience is powered by 8th Wall. If you look at the Starbucks Odyssey project on Blockchain Journal, you will see all the different components that Starbucks is using to build its Odyssey program. Nifty Market Gate Place (Nifty Gateway NFT Marketplace), 8th Wall, Kahoot! There's a whole bunch of those. They use Discord for all their messaging with the community of participants in the Odyssey program. So we show all of that on Blockchain Journal, not just for the Starbucks Odyssey program, but for all sorts of Blockchain projects.

So with that, I'm going to sign off. I'm David Berlind with Blockchain Journal. Let us know what you think, and come back for more videos either on our YouTube channel or to blockchainjournal.com. Thanks for having us.

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