Latte Love: 3 Customer Loyalty Tactics to Copy from Starbucks

Business.com / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Starbucks ability to build a loyal customer base, along with exceptional coffee, has cemented it at the top of the industry.

Starbucks hauled in almost $20 billion in revenue in 2015 and now has more than 23,000 locations worldwide.

Furthermore, the company has grown every year, besides one, since 2003.

While there is no doubt that this success has been a result of many prudent business decisions, the company’s ability to build a loyal customer base, along with exceptional coffee, has cemented it at the top of the industry.

There are countless lessons to be learned from the success of the coffee giant, many of which are applicable to any business.

A company is nothing without customers, and building a devoted customer base leads to reliable and continuous sales.

Whether you have a small local business or a huge corporation, consider the following tactics that Starbucks has utilized to grow into the powerhouse that they are today, and will continue to be for years to come.

Related Article: Build Your Tribe: How to Make an Audience Loyal to Your Brand

Loyalty Rewards Program

One of the best ways to ensure that your customers continue to use your service is simply to reward them for it.

Starbucks gives its customers “Stars” when they purchase products with their Starbucks Cards or through the mobile app.

As customers earn more stars, they are eligible for free food, drinks or accessories. In addition, the company tempts those enrolled in the program to come in for their fixes by offering promotions and discounts on certain products.

There are three levels to the program. New customers are placed in the “Welcome Level”, which provides a free drink or snack in stores and a 15 percent off coupon for purchases made online on the customer’s birthday.

My Starbucks Rewards Ad with cup and gold level card

After you collect five Stars within a year, you are moved up to the “Green Level.” Customers receive the same benefits as described above, but are also are given free in-store refills on coffee and tea.

Finally, after a collection of 30 Stars in a year, customers finally reach the “Gold Level.” This level comes with all of the above perks as well as a free drink or food item after every 12 Stars are earned and a personalized Gold Card.

The tantalizing rewards of this program have resulted in millions of members and a significant amount of Starbucks’ traffic is from these members.

Customers are led to believe that by purchasing more, they are saving themselves money as they step closer to that coveted free treat. Sacrificing a $5 coffee or breakfast sandwich is nothing when you consider how much business the program brings in.

Developing a similar rewards program may work wonders for your business. Whether you give away a free dry cleaning, discounts on groceries, or something else, offering incentives for continued business may accelerate your growth more than you could have ever imagined.

Related Article: The Psychology of Creating Repeat Customers for Your Business

Breaking Stereotypes

If you asked most Americans when they drink their coffee, most would say sometime before noon. For many other smaller companies, it may make financial sense to only operate during the day when the majority of customers come in for their morning coffees.

Starbucks was able to break this trend, however, by offering a variety of food and drinks throughout the day. While they certainly have a morning rush, customers float in and out of the store throughout the day.

One of the main reasons why Starbucks was able to create so many all-day offerings was its acquisition of many smaller chains in the beverage and pastry industry.

Some of these companies, whose products can still be found in Starbucks throughout the nation, are TeavanaLa Boulange, and Evolution Fresh.

The company grew from an excellent coffee shop to a full-blown café that just happened to offer some of the world’s most popular coffee. Now customers come in for a variety of products, including juices, sandwiches and countless snacks.

Does this mean your roofing company should buy up a bunch of small beverage and food companies? Not necessarily.

What you can learn from Starbucks, though, is to not let your business be defined by the norm. If you are a general contractor, for example, maybe you should give estimates at night when people are more likely to be home. If you have an ice cream shop, try opening up in the morning to offer waffles and ice cream for a change.

Think about how you can diversify your business to stand out from the others that only provide what people expect them to.

Seasonal Offerings

If you have ever been on the Internet or watched TV, I’m sure you have seen ads for Starbucks’ seasonal offerings. Some of these include the tasty Peppermint Mocha Latte and the sorority girl favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Starbucks restaurant menu featuring pumpkin spice latte

Though Starbucks could probably do well selling these beverages year-round, the exclusivity of selling them only during certain times of the year excites people and increases the likelihood that they will come in.

Furthermore, adding seasonal offerings keeps the menu fresh. Some people get bored of drinking the same caramel macchiato everyday for months on end, and seeing new items on the menu rekindles their interest.

If you are able to switch up your offerings throughout the year, customers are more likely to come in for this limited product or service and will get more excited about it, sometimes so much so that they spread the word to their friends and family.

Related Article: Major Rewards: 3 Customer Loyalty Programs That Actually Add Value

Final Thoughts

Starbucks has successfully addicted millions of customers to its products. Whether it is the loyalty rewards program, the wide variety of offerings, the seasonal favorites, or its dedication to helping employees, people all over the globe continually come back to ask the baristas to take their money.

Think about how you can apply Starbucks’ tactics to your own business and reap the rewards.

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