Starbucks Canada Expands Rewards Program with TD Bank: Interview

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Coffee giant Starbucks Canada is expanding its rewards program with TD Bank to include millions of TD card holders.

Peter Furnish, vice president of marketing and digital experience at Starbucks Canada, said the TD brand aligns with Starbucks from a values perspective with the orientation to the customer.

Peter Furnish

“This gives our members more value out of their Starbucks Rewards memberships. Right now we have all these great features, free coffee on your birthday, mobile order and pay, double star days. There’s benefits. But we’re looking for new and cool ways to give them benefits and extra value,” said Furnish.

“Also we wanted to invite more members into our program and working with TD, which has millions and millions of customers, is a great way to do that. We created the mechanism where the customer can link their Starbucks Rewards account with their TD card – debit or credit card – and it’s literally like any card in their portfolio which is really cool and then you will get incremental stars on our end when you make purchases with that card, incremental TD points, which is great, faster and more, customers want more.

“The second benefit, and this is sort of the real game-changer that we’ve been working on, is their ability to convert their points into our stars in real time on your phone . . . You can actually set it up so it auto reloads as well each week and that’s something that nobody’s ever done before.”

The new initiative is an evolution of Starbucks and TD’s first-of-its-kind partnership, which gave TD Aeroplan Visa cardholders the ability to earn accelerated Aeroplan points at Starbucks stores. Now, the program has been expanded to include millions of TD card holders, making rewards more accessible than ever, said Furnish.

Furnish said the number of people in the Starbucks Rewards program is not something the company has publicly revealed but “it’s in the millions.”

“It’s definitely one of the largest programs in Canada and we have more Rewards customers coming into our stores every day now than we had before COVID. I think COVID has really turbo-charged our growth in terms of member acquisition, it turbo-charged our growth in terms of frequency of those members coming in, and it’s also helped in terms of spend,” said Furnish.

He said the coffee giant has about 1,400 locations in Canada – 1,000 company-operated stores and about 400 licensed stores in places like Safeway.

Image: Starbucks Canada

“We’re building stores. We’re adding new stores every week at this stage. It’s amazing to see the business. With the Rewards program we’ve been able to see how the customer behaviour has changed through the pandemic, where they’re purchasing through the time of day and how that’s changed, the location that they’re purchasing at has changed. The number of stores they frequent has changed . . . It’s been a real benefit in terms of how we plan our business and the real estate as well,” added Furnish.

Over the past few years, the company has closed several stores in Canada and today has fewer stores than going into the pandemic but it is now opening new stores again.

“The focus on the store has changed so there’s certainly more around in the drive-thru space. Delivery has really changed the texture of the business with our partners in Uber Eats. It’s definitely changed the demand curve. We’ve got some really interesting results coming out of delivery and that has been turbo-charged through the pandemic,” said Furnish.

“And I think as the downtown core opens up I know the team is back looking at opportunities in the core. And we’re going to come back.”

By linking a Starbucks Rewards account to an eligible TD Access Card with Visa Debit or Credit Card, customers will:

  • Earn 50 per cent more Stars on purchases or card re-loads made through the Starbucks® app.
  • TD Rewards or TD Aeroplan card holders can also earn 50 per cent more TD Rewards or Aeroplan points on purchases through the Starbucks® app.
  • TD Rewards cardholders can convert TD Rewards points to Stars in real-time to use toward free food or beverages at Starbucks.

Some restrictions apply.  See terms and conditions.

Image: Starbucks Canada and TD Rewards

Through Blockchain and other innovative technologies, Starbucks said it is exploring how to tokenize Starbucks Stars, creating the ability for other merchants to connect their loyalty programs to Starbucks Rewards. This will enable customers to exchange value across brands, engage in more personalized experiences, enhance digital services, and exchange other loyalty points for Stars at Starbucks, it added.

Starbucks said this approach will serve as a foundation for a more aspirational concept for new, modern payment rails that align payment expenses with the value received by customers and merchants. Starbucks intends to be at the forefront of this disruptive innovation, which will unfold over the next few years.

“Connection and convenience are incredibly important to us at Starbucks. Not only do we, as a company, strive to create meaningful personal connections everywhere customers interact with us, but we also look to make the Starbucks experience easier & more accessible for a customer’s every day,” said Furnish. “Our partnership with TD allows us to connect with our customers in a new and innovative way that is unmatched, personalized and effortless.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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