Starbucks Rewards Promo Has South Korea Going Crazy Over Branded Merchandise
It’s always kind of funny to see what promotional campaigns really land. Every distributor reading this probably has a story about a campaign they worked on where they meticulously planned every small and fun detail of the promotion, only for it to fall flat. Conversely, they probably have stories about promotions they didn’t think much of at all, only to have end-users go nuts over them. Sometimes you can’t predict these things.
The promotional people in charge of Starbucks Korea’s summer rewards program, which includes branded merchandise like a suitcase and folding chair, might not have expected to see lines out the door at Starbucks with customers drinking as much as possible as quickly as possible to make sure they get the rewards. But that's what happened.
According to Yonhap News Agency in Korea, the promotion started on May 21 and lasted until this past Wednesday. To get one of the items, customers needed to drink 17 drinks, three of them seasonal flavors.
Starbucks Summer-ready bag (Green) pic.twitter.com/xayTlWkdGo
— Jay Lim 🇰🇷 임병준 (@aQuoteAday) May 18, 2020
As stock dwindled, customer effort went up a notch—enough to crash the Starbucks app used to redeem points.
"Since I got a summer chair in early June, I've made several attempts to receive a green bag,” one customer told YNA. “But I gave up after seeing some 50 people waiting in front of me when I arrived 30 minutes earlier than the opening hour.”
Just like any other exclusive or seasonal drop, Starbucks users tried to get things in bulk rather than just get, you know, one.
Interest Check: Starbucks Korea Summer Chair pic.twitter.com/DHbB4hOwgc
— BTS/BT21 Merch On Hand (busy unboxing/packing) (@kpop_medley) May 16, 2020
YNA reported that one customer got 300 cups of coffee in one sitting in Seoul, earning him 17 summer bags. He took just one of his cups (you know, the one he actually wanted) and left the store as employees dumped 299 drinks down the drain.
To get the points necessary to redeem for a bag, YNA reported that customers need to spend about $75 on coffee. Now that items are hitting the resale market, suitcases are for sale for as high as 120,000 won (about $100 in the U.S.). If stock continues to dwindle and demand stays put, that’s probably going to increase.
People are also selling their e-frequency stamps used to collect prizes.
“I got two Starbucks chairs earlier this month,” one seller said. “But it’s hard to explain why people, including me, have been so into the craze.”
That’s just it—it’s a craze. Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason. Hype mentality sets in and you don’t think about why something is cool, you just know it is. That’s why people here in the U.S. buy up anything that says “Supreme” on it, even Oreos. It’s why folks in the U.K. are buying up all things Palace. It’s why people in China have been rocking sometimes misspelled Linkin Park T-shirts promoting an album that’s a decade old.
Sometimes, things just work. And boy, did this Starbucks promo work.