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Starbucks Odyssey Aims to Bring NFTs and Web3 Into Mainstream

By Arthur Crowson10/07/2022

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Starbucks has long been known for its successful rewards program, and they’re trying to pull in more of their key demographics with the introduction of Starbucks Odyssey. Though the program is still in waitlist stage, it will offer US Starbucks Rewards members and partners (employees) the opportunity to earn and purchase digital collectible assets that will unlock access to new benefits and immersive coffee experiences. The current Rewards program will not be affected, while Odyssey will offer different types of rewards for users.

How Starbucks Odyssey Works

With the traditional Starbucks Rewards program, customers earn stars for their purchases, which can then be redeemed for free coffee, food, and more. Starbucks Odyssey goes in a different direction, offering customers “journeys”. Journeys are a series of activities, such as playing games or completing challenges to deepen their knowledge of coffee. Odyssey will then be rewarded for completing them with a digital collectable known as a ‘journey stamp’, which will actually be a NFT (non-fungible token). 

Members will also be able to purchase ‘limited-edition stamps’ (also NFTs) through a built-in marketplace within the Odyssey app. These limited-edition stamps can be purchased by members directly with a credit card.  No crypto wallet or cryptocurrency will be required, and overall, there will be little awareness that blockchain is even involved, which somewhat defeats the purpose. Starbucks has announced that Polygon (MATIC) will be the blockchain that Odyssey will use.

Like the majority of NFTs on the market, Starbucks’ stamps will include a point value based on rarity. The stamps will be able to be bought or sold among members within a marketplace, with ownership secured on a blockchain. Collecting stamps increases a members’ points, which unlocks unique benefits and experiences that have never been offered before. Some of the experiences noted by Starbucks are: a virtual espresso martini-making class, unique merchandise and artist collaborations, invitations to exclusive events at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, or even trips to Starbucks’ Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica.

Will Odyssey Be The Success Starbucks Hopes?

While purely speculative at this juncture, it seems somewhat unlikely that Odyssey will help Starbucks enter the Web3 sector with much success. Much of the hype surrounding NFTs, at least certainly the art kind, has all but died down with crypto seemingly in a winter. While mainstream markets aren’t doing much better than crypto, the buzz surrounding the idea of a metaverse and NFTs is much quieter nowadays than it was just one year ago.

Starbucks seems to want to market the purchase of these NFTs as proof of brand loyalty, and while that is something many like to flaunt, it can be done with just a coffee cup rather than an NFT that someone has to view online. The concept was likely created during the original hype around NFTs and may have simply taken too long to launch, especially seeing as it hasn’t actually launched anything other than a waitlist yet. 

Whether Odyssey is a success will likely hinge on the rewards offered to those who enter the reward program, and how easy or hard those rewards are to attain. Investors speculating on Starbucks NFTs also seems like it has the potential to go badly for regular users, and offering a peer to peer (P2P) marketplace for users to buy and sell them could further this issue. The reward program won’t be very useful if whales buy up and control the stamp market, and so Starbucks may need to evaluate the marketplace idea.

Overall, the idea could be successful for Starbucks, but it seems unlikely to create any new traction for Web3 and NFTs, as they aren’t really being used to a great extent with Odyssey.

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Arthur Crowson

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