The Gamification of Caffeination

There are fewer things that I am more addicted to than coffee (Ask someone at our office if you have any doubt!). The morning joe leads to the afternoon pick-me-up leads to the infamous evening motivator.

One of my other personal addictions passions is gaming. Gaming to me is an umbrella term for video games, sports, board games, card games, etc. These activities are more than just a mindless time-sink. Made and executed properly, they can provide everything from morale boosts to new perspectives. Our agency just completed an office “Gamestorming” session to brainstorm some new concepts for a client. Using games from the book that invented the Gamestorming concept, our team was able to generate hundreds of new ideas for a client campaign.

Performing the exercise… setting up the goals and rules… it got me thinking about the latest phone apps for coffee companies like Starbucks and Dunkin’.

Combining the addictive qualities of gaming with an addictive product in coffee is brilliant. I want to focus on Starbucks, because it is the coffee shop I visit daily and because it was recently reported that their loyalty program and mobile app are responsible for 39 percent of all sales in the U.S.

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Driving Loyalty and Repeat Business

The customer is introduced to the Starbucks app and to the rules of the game through various tasks. First, you perform a simple action in creating or loading a Starbucks digital card. The buy-in is $25 dollars at time of print.

Next, the user is encouraged to use their card to pay for their next coffee. This provides great user feedback. It is cool to use your phone to scan your order quickly.

And do you know what is EVEN COOLER than paying for your order in store? Ordering the coffee ahead of time and picking it up when you get there. This provides user interactivity, introduces the user to customizing their very own caffeinated concoction, and designates a favorite location. To this day, it is fun to waltz into a ‘bucks, avoid the line, and grab your coffee. As you proceed with this loop, you accrue points until you become a “Gold Member,” which gets you free stuff.

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The influence of this game dominoes to friends, family, and passerbys. From my own experience, it was impossible not to notice someone on the bus, preemptively getting their order ready. The tipping point occurred when I was informally introduced to the app by a loyal customer who was all too excited to share her experience and her order on the app.

The important message here is that gamification, when done right, is an effective way to build brand loyalty and drive sales.

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