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Starbucks runs mobile coupon loyalty program

Starbucks Coffee Co. is running a loyalty program based on 2D bar-code coupons deployed via SMS.

The coffee giant tapped digital technology provider Codilink, which specializes in mobile services helping companies to offer loyalty programs to their clients. The campaign is currently running in Guadalajara and San Luis Potosi, Mexico, but based on the 60 percent mobile coupon redemption rate, it is likely to be expanded.

"The main strategies of this campaign are to reward loyal Starbucks customers and to get to know new customers and attract them to their stores," said Rodrigo Rivero Borrell, director/CEO of Codilink Mexico, Mexico City. "On the one hand we're helping people to get to know the brand and the product and rewarding loyal customers with prizes and discounts.

"We were offering a system to create the coupons and track them to learn more about their customers, and mobile is the key way of doing that," he said. "Starbucks also wanted to target younger people, and mobile is the most appropriate way to do that."

Currently about 80 percent of consumers in Mexico have mobile phones for a total of approximately 76 million subscribers.

Starbucks created postcards that are being handed out in malls, universities and retail outlets, with the goal of attracting new customers.

The call-to-action urged consumers to text keyword STARBUCKS to short code 80080 to get a WAP link to download a buy-one-get-one-free 2D bar code mobile coupon.

As part of its loyalty program for existing customers, Starbucks is displaying in-store signage with a mobile call-to-action: text keyword VENTI to short code 80080 to opt in to receive various discounts and offers for coffee-size upgrades.

Starbucks is equipped with 2D bar code recognition software, so employees can read the mobile coupon directly from consumers' mobile phones at the point of sale.

"Every time you present your coupon, the offer would be modified, such as get a venti for the price of a tall, to make people come more often to the store," Mr. Borrell said. "What Starbucks cares about most is the number of people who actually present 2D bar codes, and the redemption rate was about 60 percent.

"This is our proof that it is so easy for people to participate in mobile campaigns and that they get results," he said. "The goal is to teach people about mobile technology and to actually get people to react to that technology, and so far they have, so hopefully it will include other larger cities across the country soon."

Codilink, which has offices in Spain, Britain and Mexico, specializes in mobile marketing and mobile application development designed to strengthen the relationship of brands with consumers.

Among the services it offes are mobile coupons, mobile tickets, loyalty programs, SMS and MMS.

Some of the clients Codilink has worked with are Cinepolis, FC Barcelona, El Corte Ingles, the Washington Post, Nike and Coca-Cola.

The Codilink mobile coupon platform, implemented through various interactive channels such as sending an SMS to a short code or receiving the coupon by mail or in printed media, lets participants receive a two-dimensional bar code that is activated in the participating stores.

The code can be reused, thereby triggering the loyalty program, with changing benefits depending on the frequency of use.

The program aims to increase visits to the participating stores and to recognize and reward the loyalty of Starbucks' regulars.

The reader or scanner provided by Codilink checks the validity of the coupon in real time and sends all information to a database to monitor consumer patterns and reports the results of the campaign to the brand, in this case Starbucks.

Starbucks Mexico relies on interactive marketing as a key tool to strengthen the sales of their establishments.

"We are convinced that the technology allows us to be closer to customers and offer benefits that are actually usable," said Ivan Ahedo, director of marketing for Starbucks Mexico. "Additionally, the technology allows us to monitor and analyze the patterns of our clients in order to know them better and offer them more benefits and better quality."