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Starbucks brings coffee to life via interactive augmented reality app

Starbucks Coffee Co. is proving that mobile plays an integral role in its day-to-day initiatives with a new augmented reality app that makes its holiday red cups and coffee come to life.

Starbucks has released its new Starbucks Cup Magic app which is available in Apple?s App Store for free download. Consumers can discover Starbucks holiday characters, which are found on the red cups, coffee bags and signage.

?Augmented reality has long been touted as a powerful discovery tool, for looking down streets and seeing location-based deals and specials,? said Wilson Kerr, Boston-based mobile marketing consultant. 

?It has not materialized as such, so Starbucks is wisely limiting the trigger image to their own products and using it as an innovative engagement tool, to create buzz and drive app downloads,? he said.

Mr. Kerr is not affiliated with Starbucks. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Starbucks is a retailer of specialty coffee with stores around the globe.

Mobile magic
Consumers can download the app and scan the red cups, holiday coffee bags or in-store signage by holding their device approximately 12 inches away from the item they are scanning.

Then, once the animated characters appear, users can move their device left, right, up and down around the character.

Consumers can also tap the character to interact.

The Starbucks Cup Magic app lets users unlock five characters.

?Seeing a sledding dog will not cause anyone to buy more coffee, but sharing this fun mobile discovery with friends via social media linkages creates a viral buzz that will certainly drive new app downloads for Starbucks,? Mr. Kerr said.

?The discover all the characters challenge element adds a game layer to the app, which is a time honored and proven way to increase consumer brand engagement,? he said.   

Holiday cheer
In addition to experiencing Starbucks Holiday characters coming to life, consumers will also be able to use the new app to pass along a merry sentiment to friends and family.

The Starbucks Cup Magic app lets users share a snapshot of the holiday scene via email or Facebook.

Additionally, consumers can stay current with Starbucks holiday promotions via the app.

Users can visit the promotions section of the app to learn about the events going on at Starbucks such as its Buy One, Get One event and the 12 Days of Gifting event.

The app is also equipped with an egift feature that lets users send Starbucks Card egifts to friends and loved ones from their smartphone.

The company decided to make an augmented reality app with the amount of things the technology can do.

Consumers always have their smartphone device on hand and make animations come to life not only helps engage consumers, but create a unique experience for them.

?Any mobile technology play will likely increase sales for Starbucks,? Mr. Kerr said.  ?They have a perfect demographic sync with smartphone owners and are a leader in mobile marketing and commerce, with over 20 million mobile transactions already under their belt.

?People love Starbucks and they love their smartphones, so a branded Starbucks app will likely be a present many open this holiday season,? he said. 

Final Take
Rimma Kats is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York