Thursday, November 7, 2013

Loyalty Cards

image from Starbucks
In the last two weeks, I have gotten three emails from Starbucks offering discounts on items they offer. The first was for 50% off the new Chocolate Chai Tea Latte, the second was for a buy one, get one free sandwich or salad, and the third was an offer for $1 off any tea beverage.

Since I've been working some long hours recently, I decided to take advantage of the sandwich offer, and toss the free one in my bag for dinner. When I gave the woman the code, she asked if I had a Starbucks card, and my first thought was "Is there anyone who does not yet have a Starbucks card?"

But then I remembered a conversation with a friend from a couple weeks ago. She goes to Starbucks regularly, using a trip to get coffee to force herself out of the office for few minutes. She usually brings a lunch, so without regular trips to Starbucks, she would find herself working throughout the day with barely a break from her computer screen, which is not good for anyone.

But even though she makes these regular trips, she told me she hasn't yet signed up for a Starbucks card. I couldn't understand why -- it's free to sign up, and there are benefits to making purchases from the card such as possibly getting every 13th drink free, so why not? She sighed and agreed that she really should get around to it.

Loyalty cards of all kinds are great -- as long as they're free, one is being rewarded without changing her behavior. The trick, of course, is to not be tempted by the ease or the discount offers to increase one's frequency at that store. As long as one keeps that in mind, she'll take advantage of the bonuses, enjoy her treats, and maybe even save a little money when that free drink or useful discount offer does come along.

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