Since it rolled out its Rewards program in 2009, Starbucks has convinced 16 million members to sign up.
They’re often first to hear when the company introduces a new drink, and they are crucial to the coffee company’s efforts to build customer loyalty.
In fact, Rewards members account for about 40 percent of purchases at company owned stores in the United States.
Now, Starbucks is outlining its plans, disclosed last year, to update the program.
Starting on April 16, Rewards members will be able to cash in stars immediately, rather than wait until they’ve accumulated the 125 stars that currently entitle them to free food and beverages.
Under the revised program, they can use stars to get more types of items. But it’s going to cost more stars than in the past to get some of the things that 125 stars used to yield.
Here’s how the plan announced Tuesday shapes up:
For 25 stars, members can add an espresso shot, customize their drink with a dairy substitute, and get a pump of syrup.
For 50 stars, they can get a bakery item, brewed hot coffee or hot tea.
For 150 stars, members can order a “handcrafted drink,” meaning something like a cappuccino or latte, a hot breakfast item or a parfait.
For 200 stars, they can get a lunch sandwich, protein box or salad.
For 400 stars, Rewards members can take home selected merchandise or coffee, whether ground or beans.
Essentially, you’re redeeming fewer stars for goodies and simple beverages, and more stars for espresso drinks, and heftier food items.
Starbucks awards two stars for every dollar spent, and says the changes mean that members can earn stars for something in as few as two or three visits.
It is offering members free hot coffee and tea refills, a birthday treat and other special bonuses that are based on a member’s purchase history.
The company says the tiered rewards are available at participating locations, and to get the birthday reward, you must make one star-earning purchase with a registered Rewards card.
Starbucks will be watching closely to see how customers react to the Rewards changes, the second such overhaul of the program in recent years.
It has struggled to find the right balance of eye-catching sugary drinks and less-caloric beverages favored by young consumers.
Lately, it has been expanding its nitro cold brew coffee to more outlets. And, it has relentlessly introduced a variety of limited time only concoctions, like its current offer of the Cloud Macchiatto, an egg-white foam topped drink endorsed by pop princess Ariana Grande.
So, get ready to update your Starbucks app, and begin calculating what that previously 125-star purchase will now require.