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What Can Global Brands Learn from the Starbucks Odyssey NFT Customer Loyalty and Engagement Program?

Many of the biggest global brands are experimenting with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a means to improve customer loyalty and engagement. One of the brands is probably just around the corner from where you live: The Starbucks Odyssey Program.

Blockchain Customer Experience (BCE)

Customer Engagement

NFT

Food and Beverage

By David Berlind

Published: November 17, 2023

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30 min read

As NFT programs go, Starbucks is going a little bit further than some other brands to insulate its customers from the complexities and even the vocabulary of blockchain. In fact, Starbucks doesn't even call its NFTs "NFTs." It calls them "Stamps" and most of the customer experience (including a marketplace where the Stamps can be bought and sold) is self-contained within Starbucks branded pages where the monies exchanged are primarily in US dollars.

In this video, Blockchain Journal Customer Journey Analyst Sophie Maxx Waldman and editor-in-chief David Berlind talk through some of the finer points of the Odyssey program so that other global brands and enterprises can get a better idea of how it works and what if any elements of the program might be worth reproducing for their own customer loyalty and engagement initiatives.

Audio-Only Podcast

David Berlind: Today is November 10th, 2023. I'm David Berlind with Blockchain Journal. Today, we are going to speak with Sophie Maxx Waldman, our Customer Journey Analyst, to talk about another really cool customer loyalty and engagement program that's based on NFTs – one of the leading ones that's out there, the Starbucks Odyssey program. Sophie, thanks for joining me on the show today.

Sophie (Maxx) Waldman: It's a pleasure, always a pleasure, especially with this one. I think you and I both – we talk all the time about the Starbucks program and I’m so excited to kind of, you know, hop into it and chop it up.

Berlind: We do. We talk about the program. And, as a matter of fact, it's really the first program that I really dove into to better understand exactly how it is that global brands like Starbucks can better engage their customers – their – the fans of their brand to drive more loyalty, even more revenue, because as you know, in the Starbucks Odyssey program they have some of these journeys you have to go on in order to earn an NFT. And, as a part of those journeys, sometimes you have to part with your money. You have to go to the store or order something online and actually give them your money. And that is one way that global brands can use NFTs to drive more revenue. They can incentivize their customers to make purchases and in exchange for those purchases, they earn their way towards some sort of NFT.

So let's go ahead and start – and get into it. You, I know from some of your posts on your Twitter and – or I should call it X – that you are a coffee aficionado. You love your coffee and you spend a lot of time with the Starbucks brand. So, when they launched the program, what was it about the program that you thought was really cool?

Waldman: Yeah, that's a good question to start it off. I'm a big coffee fan, as you said, and I typically like to try to find a way to make coffee at home. However, the second that I saw a program like this, I instantly said, “Oh, now I have a reason to stop making coffee at home. I have a reason to go to Starbucks and really learn about this experience that they're building and see how they kind of have gone about this.”

I know just Starbucks – as a brand itself – has always tapped into technology. They were one of the very first brands to even have mobile payments. They were one of the first places to offer free public wifi. They have a lot of hidden priority, I would say, in having tech for its brand. And with this, it only builds on that in that they already are launching a whole new loyalty program all on-chain for its customers.

Berlind: Okay. All the different programs that we've experienced out there to drive more customer engagement, loyalty, fan engagement, in the case of some sports teams or car racing teams, they all take a little bit of a different approach, and Starbucks is definitely out there with a very different approach than a lot of other brands take.

One of the things that I've noticed, for example, is when you buy an NFT from them, you buy it in US dollars. It's a – they use Nifty Gateway – which makes it possible for Starbucks to basically “white label” or put within their brand this idea of a custodial wallet in a way that customers don't even realize they're working with wallets or blockchain technology. So, they're paying in US dollars, not paying with cryptocurrency, they're looking at – basically what looks like a website to them when they're actually looking at a wallet – and then… What is it that they call their NFTs? They don't even call them NFTs. I'll let you pick it up from there and just talk us through what they're doing.

Waldman: Yeah. They've covered all of the complexities to this technology. They really have made a priority in “hiding,” I think, as much as those words as they possibly can. And so, they call their NFTs itself “stamps,” and they call the kind of experience – or process – or challenge – to get some of those NFTs a “journey.” And then they also have some of those NFTs, again, called “stamps” as purchased, like – just one-offs – through different campaigns and collections as well. And that'll kind of lead into as well.

The Odyssey program goes very hand-in-hand with kind of the calendar of Starbucks and the brand itself in that whatever we see the stores kind of following or however Starbucks comes out with new drinks or celebrating new seasons, the Odyssey program has kind of reflected that through the entire experience as well, and then incorporated that into the journeys and stamps.

Berlind: Oh, so that's really interesting. So what they're doing there, quite frankly, is that they've really kind of synced up the Odyssey program with everything else the brand does. And a lot of times we don't see that with the other NFT programs. Those NFT programs are kind of like outliers or sort of an experiment. They're not really in tune with [what] the main brand is doing, but when you look at the Odyssey program – and I would agree with you… Like for example, in October when they kind of turned on all of their fall decorations in the store, that's at the same time that they offered these pumpkin spice latte NFTs in the Odyssey program, which was kind of cool. But – why don't you take us through a journey, this idea of a journey, because a lot of other global brands and enterprises are going to want to know what that's about. Like how to, what is a journey? How does it work? And what's the outcome when you get to the end of the journey?

Waldman: Yeah, the journeys are really fun. I think that the first two are still available for when people come into it. So some of them are short-termed times, relevant to whatever that season or activity might be. And then some of them have been kind of kept open for new people because – are they still under beta? Is it still, is the entire Odyssey –

Berlind: Yeah, I think all of the programs are under beta – you know, they're limited access – you have to get off a waiting list.

Waldman: So true.

Berlind: Starbucks was pretty quick. Yeah. But yeah.

Waldman: Yeah, yeah. So like, as they come off that kind of waiting list, there are journeys that are available for some of those members to kind of take a stab at right away. And so looking at one of the first two... I think the first one that I actually did was the “Coffee Heritage.” And that one kind of just gave you a whole bunch of experience. I mean – when I wrote about this, I pretty much said that the program itself was driving this engagement and affinity – loyalty to the brand.

And I think that first kind of stems from this coffee heritage journey. So how it kind of starts you in the Odyssey experience is with a metaverse-based tour of Starbucks' coffee farm over in Costa Rica. And so you kind of like hop... It places you on a[n] airplane, you land in Costa Rica, you get welcomed by a guide that's there, and this is all in, of course, a digital setting. And then you're able to walk around, click on things. It's very interactive. So, if you see a piece of art on the wall or a tree, you can click on that and then learn a lot about the brand. And so, I thought that was very interesting, because of course, when you walk into a Starbucks, you don't necessarily see all that goes on behind the scenes.

I think that by stepping into this next kind of iteration of the internet and the way that we are building brands and learning more about the products we consume, [the] Starbucks Odyssey program specifically really tapped into educating and building this brand awareness for their customers to not only, of course, keep enjoying their coffee and spending time in the coffee shops, but also learning that, you know, there's so much more to this.

And so, through that metaverse experience, we really got a whole bunch of information on what the brand is, how the coffee is produced, and kind of like all that goes on behind the scenes. And then, going through that, there were a couple more steps to completing the journey to get that final stamp. And so some of those are like little trivia questions as to, “Where are the beans produced?” or “What step comes first?” or “How do we plant this seed to eventually become a coffee cup for you?” And it kind of educates you along the way and it makes it a little bit fun with, I wouldn't say quizzes, but like trivia-type questions that test your knowledge to an extent.

Berlind: Yeah, in some ways, and I think this is a possible business outcome that Starbucks is shooting for, we have to basically reverse engineer what the business outcomes it is that they're looking for. But, when I think about that, what they're doing is, they're not only educating you and making you more aware of what the brand is and what it stands for, but they're kind of turning you into an ambassador for the brand, and they're not even paying you to do that.

You're more likely – I know I'm more likely to go out there and share what I've learned about that coffee farm in Costa Rica now that I know a little bit about it. And now that they even forced me to take a quiz to prove that I consumed all the content, went through the journey, and everything – that makes me more knowledgeable about the brand. And, that is the sort of intimacy that a lot of global brands should be looking to drive with their customers and maybe with even people who are not already customers. Maybe this is a way to invite them in, have fun with new people, and turn them into customers.

Waldman: Yeah, and that's actually what the “Doing Good” journey really kind of prompted for me, because that one was all about kind of being sustainable and environmentally friendly, seeing what you can do to kind of help this the globe itself. And so with that, I thought that was very inviting for, people to kind of like put themselves out there in that – I, yes, I'm doing this for, for instance, a stamp or to complete the journey, but also because I wouldn't typically do this. And there is a little bit of that incentive that Starbucks is giving customers through the Odyssey program. And so, what that looked like was, of course, you know, learning about some like sustainability. I think there was like a short little video and some more trivia. There was a mini-game where you were kind of looking around, searching for things, and clicking on those to get the points.

And then, what really struck me like as a kind of surprise, but a very exciting challenge was the bring your own cup activity. And that's of course to save cups and reuse and reduce all of your consumption across the traditional brands that you would just walk in there and accept the paper coffee cup. But, this really prompted me to make a conscious effort to bring my own cup and kind of experience that. And, from doing that, I actually learned that there's a discount on all of your drink orders when you do bring your own cup.

And then, in doing that, I also had the experience to try some of their dairy-free drinks, which was part of this as well. I think you had to try –

Berlind: Right.

Waldman: One or two, maybe even three it was. And in that, you're trying new things, you're trying new flavors, new drinks on the menu that you might not typically go to.

And then, of course, you get a little bit of that discount on it as well from bringing your own cup. And so, again, like typically I wouldn't normally think to do any of this. I didn't even know that there was a discount for bringing that cup. And now that I've gone through this journey, I now know that this is a priority for Starbucks, and how, you know, they go about their sustainable practices is really interesting.

Berlind: Yeah, I would agree that when I went through that same journey and learned more about everything they're doing to promote sustainability, saving the environment, reusability, it made me a bigger fan of Starbucks than I already was – and that sort of creates that loyalty. We talk about customer engagement and loyalty, but what they're doing there is they're basically making it so that when I do have a choice of I'm walking around – let's say San Francisco or New York City – and there's a coffee store in every block. I'll make that extra effort to walk into the Starbucks to get my coffee just because I become a bigger fan of the brand. Their corporate values are aligned with my personal values. That's a great thing. And so, therefore, I become more loyal to the brand. That is something else that a lot of other enterprises and global brands should be thinking about, I think, when they go to launch their own NFT programs, or when they're just looking at blockchain technology and saying, “What can this technology do for me?”

Waldman: Yeah, definitely. It totally opens that up. And it just... there's so many ways that they can go about this. And I actually value that Starbucks is trying so many different of those avenues because it can be really complex for a newcomer to kind of understand how there's all of these different mechanics on the back end of the blockchain on the back end of these stamps that they don't even see or know about, but yet they still get to experience in a really fun and novel way that doesn't seem super complex to them, they can just use this simple web app and have a full experience without even knowing. And so, it really just kind of instills that, “Let's collect, let's earn rewards, let's build loyalty and educate you on the brand.” and little do they know all that's going on the backend with that. And then at the same time, it's just building on this experience for the customers.

I'm thinking of the “Going Places” journey where you had to go to multiple different stores. You had to go into a store and I think you had to scan one of the coffee bean bags and everyone in the store was looking at me, “What are you doing? Or what are you checking for? Is there something I can help you with?” And I was explaining that I was doing the – pretty much the – task that the brand had set up for me to do and everyone else participating in the journey.

However, no one else knew that this was an opportunity and so then, in that moment with the “Going Places” journey, I was also able to kind of onboard some people within the store and educate them that “this is what I was doing, this is what Starbucks is doing,” and how they can really tap into it as well.

Berlind: Yeah, that's a really interesting point, because I did the same thing. I went into the different stores. A lot of the Starbucks employees were not aware of the Odyssey program. I definitely noticed that. And the same thing happened to me, by the way, with the adidas ALTs program. I was in their confirmed app, trying to get a free NFT, that was associated with their Moncler drop. And, I couldn't get it to work. And there was actually a chat capability in the app to chat with technical support. And their technical support people didn't know about the possibility of getting an NFT and connecting the confirmed app to a cryptocurrency wallet. So they were confused. And, so that kind of speaks a little bit to some of the things that these brands could do a little bit better, which is [to] let everybody who works for them and supports them know that this is going on and that they might get asked questions or encounter customers who are actually working with the NFT program as opposed to just being your ordinary everyday customer.

I also think that some of the points you're raising here are important because we haven't really talked about them with the other programs is this this kind of metaverse thing that's going on. We hear a lot about metaverses with blockchain and NFTs, but this is also something that's interesting about the Starbucks program is they are, in fact, experimenting with the idea of creating a metaverse where we roam around and we, you know, to complete our journeys, we go and we sort of take a tour of the farm in Costa Rica, or we go into a store and we're doing this augmented reality thing where we're using the Starbucks app to scan – or the website that they've set up – to scan the QR codes on the products in the store. That is a little more experiential and immersive than some of the other programs that we've worked with.

Waldman: Yeah, definitely. They've even tapped into a lot of AR stuff. I know with the – one of the journeys where you had to choose your avatar – I can't think of the name of it right now, but the one where you chose your avatar was like a whole bunch of different kinds of animals. And then you went into the store and you scanned the Starbucks logo, it kind of brought that animal to AR life. And I think one of them was – I'm trying to remember – there was like a tiger. It's all of those different animals that are kind of –

Berlind: Tiger, yeah, a hummingbird, a bear, yeah, yep.

Waldman: There it is. Yeah. And so you kind of brought that character to life and got to see it in AR as well as all of these metaverse experiences. And they did tap into the metaverse as well with not only that first journey where you went to the Costa Rica farm and got to kind of experience that, they did a second one which was a little bit more what I would say like “gamified” than the original one. And that was all around the Pumpkin Spice Latte experience.

Berlind: Right.

Waldman: So they were celebrating the pumpkin spice, I guess – birthday – in the metaverse in October. And that was that metaverse experience was token gated to any member who had at least one stamp. And I know we've talked – we spoke about token gating before. And I think again, that's something that was very much like behind the scenes. But if you were someone who had seen somebody post that they were celebrating umpkin spice lattes with Starbucks in the metaverse and playing this game where they were collecting like cinnamon and cups and pumpkins –

Berlind: Right.

Waldman: You would say, “Oh, I wanna play that game!” Or, “I wanna see what this is about.” And when you got to that point, you would have seen that you weren't eligible because you didn't have a stamp or you weren't a part of the program. And so it, kind of prompted a little bit of that. Like, “What is this cool game that Starbucks enthusiasts are playing? How can I become involved?” And then – in that moment – they would have noticed, “Oh, this is why I need to be a part of this”, or ”This is why I need in, so I can have that token-gated access.”

Berlind: Right. Well, this gets back to that idea that we talk about, which is this FOMO or fear of missing out. You see other people doing this and wonder what all the excitement is about. You see them posting things like their pumpkin spice latte stamps or images of those stamps on Twitter or LinkedIn or wherever – whatever social network they're on – Instagram. And then you're like, “What's that about?” And then you find out, “Oh, wait a minute, I need to be a holder of some other NFT in order to get into this other experience.” And that's what token gating is. And, we do see a lot of the different brands that we're working with and looking at Blockchain Journal doing and experimenting with token gating.

Let's talk about this idea of points because Starbucks has their regular customer loyalty program which involves stars, and – but they use they have this idea of points and you can earn their different point levels and stuff like that.

So, as you go through and you get these NFTs earn these stamps, actually, we'll call them “stamps” because that's what the Odyssey program calls them. What's this whole point system about?

Waldman: Yes. So, they have a point system for all of their rewards. And then they call these – kind of like “reward periods” – the benefit selection period. And so when the benefit selection period comes around, depending on how many points you currently have in your – account, ledger, wallet, however, you want to look at it – you're able to choose one of those benefits within those levels. And so, the levels are broken down into, I think it's like 1,000 to 2,000 points for the first level, maybe it's like 3,000 to 6,000 for the second level, and then it goes on from there. And so depending on where you fall within those brackets, you're able to then redeem whatever that set reward is for that time. And we've seen some of them already because there has been a couple of those benefit selection periods already.

And then, we also have seen that there's more to come that we might have some speculation or excitement around. And so, I'd say like from the start, some of those options right off the bat were a virtual coffee class. You could do a live tasting with one of the Starbucks employees. I know they were doing something else at the reserves, which is like the flagship stores that Starbucks has in select cities.

And so, with all of those, you got an actual experience. And then there also have been, in your case, like getting a hat, a shirt, a piece of merchandise. I know they did with the one collection. Everyone was able to get a personalized coffee cup with this matching NFT that they had purchased or received in that.

Berlind: Right.

Waldman: And so, not only did you receive a new cup, but it had a little bit of – kind of that – customization, personalization to you because it was not only the cup, but it was the specific asset that you had digitally as well.

Berlind: That's right, that was the Siren collection. And that was the first paid collection they did, I believe.

Waldman: Yes.

Berlind: And they sold the NFTs for $100 each. They sold 2,000 of them, so they generated $200,000 worth of revenue for Starbucks. probably the most money they made in any single period of time. It sold out immediately.

Waldman: Instantly.

Berlind: I was not in a part of the program when that came along, but yeah, you're right. What they did was since everybody got a different NFT, a different visage of the siren, which is what they... That's another thing I learned, by the way –

Waldman: Yeah.

Berlind: Is that the mermaid and the logo is actually not a... Well, it is a mermaid, but it's a more glorified version of a mermaid called a siren. See, that's another thing I learned about the brand and I started telling other people, hey, that's not a mermaid. That's a siren, actually. And here's what a siren is.

But I think what's interesting about the points program is that, you know, as you mentioned, there's these different levels, but it's not like you turn the points in like a frequent-flyer program, you know, an airline program or something like that.

Waldman: Yeah.

Berlind: It's just like whatever point level you're at, then you get to say – you get to claim some benefit. And the other thing that is interesting is, is that you will lose your points if you decide to sell your NFTs, your stamps. So, if you sell one of the premium NFTs, they have different NFTs, ones that you earn for journeys and ones that you buy. If you turn around and sell those on the open market – and they do have a marketplace where you can sell them to other brand fans or brand aficionados and customers – then they take those points away from you, and they add those points to that other person's account.

So, I think that's a really interesting way of running the program. So they have these points, but they also have the NFTs. There's a lot going on there that it actually took me a little while to figure out, “Oh, how does this program work?” From a customer point of view, it's a little more complicated than I would say some other programs are.

So let’s... What I wanted to do is – now that we're talking about the benefits is – my benefit level is over 10,000 points. And so when they had the last period of benefit selection, I was able to pick and choose from a variety of benefits because I was over 10,000 points. And, I opted to get this. And so, as you can see, I'm going to kind of hold this up here. It's like an envelope that came to me from Starbucks. It's got the Odyssey logo on it, which is kind of cool. And I have yet to open this. So I thought, maybe now, what we could do is – I could open it right on camera and we could sort of unbox this to see what exactly it is. So I'm going to tear it open here.

Waldman: Live unboxing!

Berlind: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Waldman: I love this!

Berlind: Well, it's nothing like your TINAJ unboxing when you unbox the “This is not a JPEG” sneakers from Nike, but… something[‘s] sliding out here.

So, here's a little card in it with a QR code on it that says I[‘ve] got to scan that for some adventure. So I'm going to have to definitely scan that and see what that's about. That's another thing that they do with these different programs is they send you to something else and let's see what we've got here. So I'm going to slide this out...

Aha! Remember you were talking about the animals – and one of those animals is the tiger. So I got a tiger poster, a little tiny tiger poster.

Now I've got something to adorn my walls with like you have at your place –

Waldman: Yes!

Berlind: Because, I always notice that you have all kinds of stuff behind you that are associated... that's associated with the programs you're working with. But, that's the tiger.

[I'm] just going back to what we were talking about earlier, they did offer a collection of NFTs that involved tigers, bears, hummingbirds – and I believe I did pick the tiger as the benefit that I wanted to get – this little poster. I’m not sure, it's...

Waldman: My avatar is the tiger as well, so I love this!

Berlind: Okay, well there you go. And there's nothing else left on the envelope. So there you go. A little unboxing of one of those benefits that I ascended to as a result of achieving and holding more than 10,000 points. So I'm loving that. I wish I was in the higher tier at the time. I don't even think I was above 10,000 points at that time. But, there was a higher tier where you could have gotten some even cooler benefits. I just wasn't in that tier. So I opted for this little poster.

So overall, we talk about how you're the Customer Journey Analyst. Are you just a much bigger fan of the Starbucks brand than you ever were before because of this program? Is Starbucks achieving what I think we think Starbucks is looking to achieve?

Waldman: I honestly would say yes, and I definitely would not say that about all of these NFT or on-chain experiences that brands are trying to explore right now. I think that especially for me... So, being in New York City, there's a coffee shop, any corner that I potentially turn. And so, for this specific experience with Starbucks, it 100% motivates me, more so to invest in their brand, support their brand, [and] stay up-to-date with what they're doing. I mean, we talk about this all the time as well. It is kind of challenging to stay up to date with what they're doing –

Berlind: Oh yeah.

Waldman: Because there is so much. But at the same time, if you look at some other, you know, brands that are in this space, they came out with a collection or they came out with something and they've kind of just gone a little… silent since, or they don't have experiences throughout the entire year, or they don't tap into the holiday seasons and they're not, you know, making things that are kind of like relevant to today, every day. And so, I do think that Starbucks has really prioritized that.

And given that the whole experience is pretty like gamified in those journeys, you have to wait x amount of days before they unlock – or before – the next step is available. And so, it does kind of keep me on my toes. It keeps me checking the Discord, checking, you know, to see what's going on.

And then they also do so many different experiences that like on a Tuesday at 5 p.m. they'll have a, you know, live chat with someone in the Discord, and all of a sudden, you know I'm tuning into that, just because I all of a sudden care about –

Berlind: Yeah.

Waldman: Whatever this collection is or artist is or journey that they have going on and Otherwise, I would have never done anything, you know live or tuned-in to anything that Starbucks was doing and now it really does give me a reason to dive into that and be there for all those experiences.

Berlind: I do think a lot of these programs are trying to figure out where the balance is. There is, as you pointed out, there are those programs that have like – they issue a collection and then they go completely silent – like, “Now what?” And then on the other end, there are these programs that are literally making announcements every day on their Discord channel. And it's just – it's so verbose, it's impossible to keep up with. And if you do It sort of keeps you from even tuning into some of the other programs where the same sort of thing is going on.

Waldman: Yeah.

Berlind: Starbucks is definitely one of the busier programs. As you pointed out, they have their Discord server with a whole bunch of channels in it. And there's a lot going on there. They make all their announcements there. There's stuff going on there every single day. It's a lot to tune into. But it is the way they do keep all of the program participants updated on exactly what's coming up in the way of a drop or a new benefit selection period. And so you do have to kind of pay close attention, but I think they're doing a pretty good job. We know of other programs, for example – I believe the Williams F1 racing program – they don't even have a Discord server. So it's like they try to keep in touch with you over email instead of that. And so there are different ways, but it is about striking a balance.

I think before we just sign off here, one of the challenges that I'm finding is that Starbucks is using its Discord server. It is also using email to stay in touch with Odyssey participants. And so now, every time something happens in the Odyssey program that's about driving loyalty, I get an email, but I'm also a member of the rewards program –

Waldman: Yeah.

Berlind: Which, by the way, the Starbucks rewards program, that's their general loyalty program – which is a prerequisite to joining the Odyssey program. You have to be a member of rewards to get on the waiting list for the Odyssey program.

And now I'm getting emails from both programs and I'm like, “Okay, that's enough guys!” Like, I'm getting overwhelmed here, my inbox, you know, like, I don't wanna hear about the number of stars I can get if I buy this cup of coffee at the same time about the NFT that I can get if I can go and buy two non-dairy drinks or something like that.

Waldman: Yeah, totally. Yeah, there is a little bit of conflict there and I'm in both as well as we all are. And so I definitely see when the emails come through.

Berlind: Yeah.

Waldman: The one thing that I do like about receiving the Odyssey email specifically is that a lot of the brands that either only choose Discord or email, it limits them from some of that community chatter. And so, through having the Discord, I actually praise them because it is well ran –

Berlind: Yeah.

Waldman: Well there's engagement in there all day long. And so I see that email, I view the email as kind of like a bigger announcement, like [a] heads up. And then if I choose to want to learn more or choose to engage with it or want to connect with others about this experience, I know every time I can run to the Discord, and people are already discussing that email that everyone just received. And so it gives me –

Berlind: Yeah.

Waldman: Gives you a little bit of, you know, connectivity. It wasn't just an email, even though it was, but now you can kind of take that and go, you know, talk with your friends or talk with the community on, “When are you going to start?” or ”What's your thoughts on this?” And they really have an active community in that every time.

Berlind: That is a fair point. I definitely agree with that point. And, I think also the other important thing about these Discord servers – these communities that they're running – is they're also trying to drive engagement across the community. Not necessarily engagement between the brand and the customers –

Waldman: Yeah.

Berlind: But they're trying to get the customers to create their own little conversation. And, I would say that the Discord server for the Starbucks Odyssey program is a really good example of where you see a lot of that taking place.

Waldman: Yeah. I think of the cafe that they have within the Discord. And that's something that I think is super cool to kind of keep people going to the Discord every day because some days I'll go you know, five days without going into the Discord. And I remember, “Oh, there's the cafe, I should go get a point for that!” And it motivates me to go back in and then I read other things and I'm talking to other people.

But the cafe – for anybody who's like unaware – you pretty much can kind of Starbucks either drink, food, beverage, hot, cold, you choose what it is, you can do [a] breakfast item, you can do hot beverage, you can do cold, and you gift it to another member within the channel, and then you are given a “bean” for that, and so are they. And so with that –

Berlind: A bean...?

Waldman: A bean – with that. The beans can then be redeemed as well for a whole ‘nother kind of experience where they're doing, I think the beans go into a monthly raffle. And then with that, it's either monthly or weekly, with that raffle, you can get a[n] actual gift card or free drink to the store. And so – and by spending some time in the Discord every day, quickly sending someone else – like that's rewarding you for, you know, uplifting another community member.

Berlind: Yeah.

Waldman: And I think that's brilliant. It keeps people in there and then it gives you a reason and incentive that ties to the physical world as well in that, your beans eventually can get you a raffle spot to win that benefit.

Berlind: So, wait a minute... I think what I'm learning here is that you're giving out some virtual drinks to get some of these beans, but you've never given one to me. So, I don't know where I rank in your scheme of things.

But hey, listen, Sophie, thank you so much for joining us, talking us through the Starbucks Odyssey program, how it makes you feel as a customer, how it's resonating with you, and digging into some of the components of it so that other global brands and enterprises can better understand what is a Starbucks Odyssey is doing and how maybe they can reproduce some of those elements for their own customers, their own fans. So thanks very much for joining us here on the Blockchain Journal podcast.

Waldman: Of course! Thank you for having me.

Berlind: We've been speaking with Sophie Maxx Waldman. She's our Customer Journey Analyst at Blockchain Journal. She's the one who digs into all the different NFT programs that are out there to drive customer loyalty and engagement. And, she really puts her hands on and learns about how those programs work so that she can relay to you – here on our podcast – just exactly how those programs work and how other enterprises and global brands can learn from those experiences.

And if you wanna find out more about the other NFT programs, just come to our YouTube channel at youtube.com/@blockchainjournal, or you can come to blockchainjournal.com and we have all of this content posted there as well.

Thanks very much for joining us. We'll see you on the next podcast.

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