By Bobette Gorden
Recently, my friend told me about a holiday card she got from her Starbucks’ barista. It was handed to her when she came in the store to get her “usual” cup of coffee. It had her name on it (spelled correctly). And it included a Starbucks gift card. We were energized by what a great way that was to show appreciation to a loyal customer and to keep her coming back. The holiday card was personalized by using her name and it was also handed to her with a verbal holiday greeting as well. When I asked about what the gift card was for, we found out that the gift card was for a free beverage of any kind and any size, when purchasing that same item. “So it was for ‘Buy One, Get One Free?'” I asked. “Basically.” she answered. “How often do you want to drink two of the same coffees that you usually order, at the same time?” “Never.” she replied.
This started us thinking that this gift card wasn’t a gift at all, it was a promotion. As smart as Starbucks is, they missed their mark with this attempt to give something of value to their best customers. No matter what the card says, this was not a gift because the value to the recipient was CONTINGENT on the recipient making another purchase.
So, arm yourselves, you do not need to feel obligated, loyal or indebted to those businesses who give you a gift contingent on you doing something first. Remember that gifts come without strings. And we know from the science that the best gifts are personalized, meaningful (This does not mean expensive.) and unexpected.
Of course you know that this Starbucks gift was actually a promotion; but why didn’t the Starbucks folks know about this?
And what could Starbucks have done instead (for just about the same amount of money) that would have been a real gift and would have triggered much more customer loyalty?