Starbucks Launches An iMessage App That Let You Text Friends Gift Cards

What Happened
Starbucks is bringing gifting into your text messages with an updated iOS app released on Tuesday. The Seattle-based global coffee chain added a new “Starbucks Gifts” iMessage applet to its mobile app, allowing users send digital gift cards through Apple’s iMessage and pay for them using Apple Pay. Users can choose from a selection of images that fits the occasions and customize the gifted value for the gift card before completing the purchase with Apple Pay. Then the customized gift card is ready to be sent via iMessage.

In addition, the updated Starbucks app come with a few other improvements, such as enhanced push notifications, a revamped mobile order and pay user experience, and a store locator with new filtering options.

What Brands Need To Do
Previously, early-adopting brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and Coach have also developed iMessage app to expand the reach of their mobile apps into texting, but none has bothered to integrate with Apple Pay for a smooth, frictionless user experience like Starbucks is doing now. The payment integration makes it easy and convenient for users to generate gift cards, while he integration with iMessage. creates a more intimate user experience that lends a personal touch to the gifting process. Together, they make for a great branded gifting experience that helps recruit more customers to use its mobile app and elevates Starbucks’ brand equity, Therefore, brands looking to stay connected with mobile customers should take a cue and develop similar initiatives to explore messaging and conversational environments.


Source: 9to5 Mac

Starbucks Tests New Concept Store That Only Takes Mobile Orders

What Happened
Starbucks is reportedly planning to open a concept store at its Seattle headquarters as it tests how to best serve mobile-oriented customers. This new Reserve store will be dedicated to mobile orders, meaning customers will place their orders and pay in advance via the Starbucks app and then pick up their purchases at the store. A second Reserve store is set to open in Chicago later this year.

What Brands Need To Do
This new store concept makes perfect sense for Starbucks given the success of its mobile app. In 2016, an average 7 million Starbucks customers ordered through the mobile app every month. Its massive popularity can be largely attributed to the seamless integration of Starbucks loyalty program in the mobile order and payment app. This new store format should help alleviate the long queues at certain stores at peak hours by routing the mobile orders to a Reserve pickup station nearby, therefore serving the convenience-focused customers without compromising the in-store experience. More QSR and retail brands need to learn a thing or two from this Starbucks initiative and consider how to design a mobile-first store experience.


Source: TechCrunch

Starbucks Enhances Mobile Reward Program With Bingo Game

What Happened
Starbucks added a new feature in its mobile app to make its already-popular rewards program more addictive. Aptly named Bonus Star Bingo, this new feature adds a gaming twist to its mobile rewards program, prompting customers to fill out their bingo cards by using the mobile app to pay for purchases at specific times of the day or for specific items to win more “stars”, which is what Starbucks’ rewards points are called. Customers can win up to 300 stars for filling out the entire virtual bingo card. To promote the launch, the national coffee chain also launched a standalone site to demonstrate the game as well as a social media campaign with sponsored posts and a #BonusStarBingo hashtag.

What Brands Need To Do
This smart addition should help Starbucks continue to fuel its growth in mobile ordering, which accounted for 7% of all transactions in the last quarter. By making a game out of mobile purchases and earning reward points, Starbucks introduces strong incentives for customers to make repeated purchases and boost mobile app usage. This new feature should serve an inspiration for brands looking to more effectively engage their customers on mobile and revamp their rewards program to boost sales. CPG and QSR brands, in particular, should consider tying purchases to a reward program that is easily accessible and manageable on mobile and making it fun and interactive by adding game-like features.


Source: Mobile Commerce Daily

Alexa Can Now Take Your Starbucks Orders

What Happened
Starbucks has updated its mobile app to bring new voice-ordering features to its iOS app. Dubbed “My Starbucks Barista,” the new feature that will let customers order drinks with voice commands by speaking to a virtual AI barista. If they prefer, customers can also opt to put in their orders via texts. Moreover, Starbucks also launched this voice-ordering function as an Alexa Skill so that Amazon Echo owners can conveniently reorder their pre-set Frappuccinos simply by saying “Alexa, order my Starbucks.”

What Brands Need To Do
As an early-adopter of mobile ordering and payment technology, Starbucks have been quite advanced in embracing new mobile channels. In fact, the massive popularity of its mobile ordering feature has reportedly resulted in its baristas are having trouble keeping up with the huge amount of mobile orders during rush hours. And with the recent rise of voice-activated devices led by Amazon’s smart speaker Echo, it makes sense for Starbucks to embrace conversational interfaces so as to enhance its customer experience.

As tech giants such as Google and Amazon continue to make strong pushes for their conversational products, more and more mainstream consumers will soon become reachable via those emerging voice-based devices. Therefore, brands will need to explore opportunities in building advanced applications for these emerging platforms with highly engaging user experiences and conversational interactions.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building branded chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The NiroBot we built in collaboration with Ansible for Kia is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a chatbot experience supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data. If you’re interested in learning more about this or have a client opportunity, please reach out to our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: Engadget

Toyota, Taco Bell & Starbucks Make Play For Branded Content

What Happened
More and more brands are embracing branded and sponsored content in order to reach the increasingly distracted customers. This week alone saw three big brands making a play for content marketing. Toyota is sponsoring an upcoming original YouTube series created by Buzzfeed video creator and star Ashley Perez, aligning its brand message of “helping millennials go places” with the show’s theme of empowerment. Earlier this week, Taco Bell debuted an original weekly video series “Taco Tales” on its YouTube page, aiming to entertain and connect with customers with “stories that could only happen to Taco Bell fans.” Starbucks, on the other hand, is teaming up with three writers from “The Simpsons” for an original video series, which will come in the form of animated shorts that highlight Starbucks’ culture and feature its stores, the baristas, and the customers.

What Brands Should Do
As consumer attention becomes increasingly fragmented and the subpar mobile ad experience drives many users to use ad-blockers {a trend we explained in depth in the Ad Avoidance section of our Outlook 2016), it is becoming more and more difficult for brands to reach their desired audience via traditional media channels. Therefore, brands should take a cue from Mercedes’s influencer efforts and be willing to explore new forms of advertising such as sponsored or branded content, as well as new media formats such as VR and 360-degree video, to circumvent consumers’ growing ad aversion and pique their interest.


Sources: As linked in the article

Starbucks Previews Chatbot Service; Partners With WeChat For Mobile Gifting

What Happened
After turning its U.S. stores into sponsored locations in Pokémon Go to drive visits, Starbucks is doubling down on its mobile initiatives with two big moves. First, the Seattle-based company previewed a conversational chatbot service called “My Starbucks Barista,” which uses MindMeld’s AI engine to understand and place complicated orders in natural language via text or voice. The mobile pre-order service is set to roll out in Starbucks’ mobile apps starting early 2017.

Meanwhile, Starbucks also forged a strategic partnership with Tencent to tap into mobile commerce in China, an increasingly important market for Starbucks. The two companies launched a new social gifting feature on WeChat, the No.1 messaging app in China with over 846 million monthly active users, allowing customers to give Starbucks products to friends using WeChat. The partnership also includes payment integration, which lets Chinese customers pay for Starbucks purchases both online and in-store with WeChat wallets.

What Brands Should Do
These two initiatives indicate Starbucks’ ambition in conquering mobile by building user-friendly conversational services that are growing prominent in consumer-brand interactions (read more on this trend here). The partnership with Tencent to leverage WeChat to reach Chinese consumers could be a strong indication of what it has in store for U.S. messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger. The upcoming chatbot service leverages the power of AI to make mobile ordering more convenient and user-friendly, which should significantly improve its customer experience on mobile. As mobile becomes integral to the customer journey for most brands, more brands should take notes and start exploring how incorporating conversational interfaces may help improve the customer experience.

The Lab has extensive knowledge about reaching consumers on mobile messaging apps and building branded chatbots. The new NiroBot we build in collaboration with Ansible for Kia delivers comprehensive product information about the all-new Niro model via friendly chats. If you’re interested in reaching your audience on messaging apps and better serving them with a chatbot, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) for more information or to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: GeekWire & China Daily

Sprint And Starbucks To Sponsor Pokémon Go Locations In U.S.

What Happened
While the craze of Pokémon Go has expectedly winded down a bit from its feverish launch this summer, there is no denying that this location-based mobile game still holds much potential for brands to explore. Back in August, Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go, struck a deal with McDonald’s to turn over 3,000 restaurant locations in Japan into sponsored Gyms in the game. But since then, Niantic has made no big move in regards to bringing brand sponsorships to markets outside Japan.

That officially changes today as not one, but two big-name brands become sponsors for the game in the U.S. Earlier today Sprint announced it is partnering with Niantic to add PokéStops and Gyms at over ten thousand Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Sprint-RadioShack store locations. Moreover, Starbucks has reportedly also signed on for a similar partnership to turn its coffee shops nationwide into PokéStops and Gyms in the game. Moreover, a leaked document also shows that Starbucks will be introducing some Pokémon-themed drinks to accompany the launch.

What Brands Should Do
As we pointed out in our previous Fast Forward analysis on the game, Pokémon Go’s smashing success presents great opportunities for brands to reach a young-skewing audience on mobile and even drive offline traffic to stores. While not every brand has the resources to become an official sponsor for game, there are still plenty of things that brands can do to capitalize on the game’s viral popularity and its AR-related implications. We have already seen some brands finding interesting workarounds such as location-based dynamic ads to reach Pokémon Go players. As Niantic warms up to brand sponsors, we expect more opportunities to come for brands to reach the massive global mobile users playing the game.

For more suggestions on how brands can benefit from “Pokémania,” check out our in-depth Fast Forward analysis on the matter here.


Source: CNET

Starbucks Launches Facebook Chatbot To Hype Pumpkin Spice Latte

What Happened
Summer is nearing its end, so Starbucks has already started hyping the impending return of its best-selling seasonal product Pumpkin Spice Latte with a chatbot on Facebook Messenger. The bot is designed as an engagement tool to get fans excited for PSL’s upcoming return. Users can take a PSL-themed fan quiz or ask a question, to which the bot will answer with a seemingly random piece of old social media content. The bot does not respond to any question about the product or Starbucks.

What Brands Need To Do
As we pointed out in our Medium post on branded chatbots, they serve as a great tool for handling basic customer service and other single-focus tasks such as gathering feedback. This Starbucks chatbot is designed as a silly fun game for people to have a pretend conversation with, leveraging the messaging platform for content marketing, and it does the job admirably.

The Lab has extensive knowledge about building chatbots. If you’re interested in reaching your audience on messaging apps and better serving them with a chatbot, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) for more information or to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: The Verge

Starbucks Creates Add-In For Microsoft Outlook To Court Business Users

What Happened
Starbucks is looking to insert its brand into the most popular email client among enterprise users with an extension. Introduced at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in March, the Outlook extension enables users to book meetings at a local Starbucks and send electronic gift cards to each other right in Outlook. It is currently available for various desktop and web-based versions of Outlook with plans to make it available for Outlook’s Mac and mobile apps in the coming months.

What Brands Need To Do
Starbucks’s extension for Outlook is a great example of how brands can integrate themselves into popular platforms and apps that consumers are using daily and provide valuable services, in this case the convenience of choosing a local Starbucks store as a meeting spot within Outlook’s scheduling interface, and the ease of sending people Starbucks gift cards to show your appreciation. Another recent example in this regard is Uber’s Payment Rewards program with Capital One, where the bank inserted its service into the popular ride-hailing app by rewarding its card-carriers with free rides.

As we pointed out in our Outlook 2016, the ongoing trend of “Brand as a Service” means that brands need to deliver true value to consumers – not just with your products but also meeting your customers at a place where you can improve their lives. For brands seeking to stay ahead of the curve and connect with consumers in new channels, it is time to take the “Brand as a Service” approach and explore interesting ways to integrate your brand into a suitable digital platform, be it popular apps like Outlook and Uber, hot messaging apps such as Snapchat and Slack, or emerging live-streaming platforms.


Source: PCMag

How Starbucks Is Promoting New Loyalty Program On Snapchat

What Happened
Earlier this week, Starbucks rolled out an update to its popular mobile app, which came with a revamped loyalty program. Now, the Seattle-based coffee chain is promoting the changes with a sponsored selfie lens on Snapchat. The lens cleverly incorporates golden stars – the symbol for Starbucks’ loyalty points – into its design. Snapchat first introduced the Sponsored Lens in October last year, and 20th Century Fox was the first marketer to buy one, promoting The Peanuts Movie. Starbucks also reports that 17 million people are using its app, which processes 7 million orders per month or roughly 21% of its U.S. in-store sales.

What Brands Need To Do
Besides Sponsored Lenses for selfies, Snapchat has also opened up its sponsored geofilters to allow all users to buy customized filters recently. As the popular messaging app continues to grow its user base and improve its ad products, it is quickly becoming an important marketing platform for brands to reach younger demographics. With consumers increasingly shunning traditional ads (for more on this, check out the Ad Avoidance section of our Outlook 2016), we expect to see more brands try out Snapchat’s Sponsored Lenses and Branded Geofilters to reach their audience.


Source: AdWeek