I was taken aback when reading this NYT piece on Starbucks loyalty card
Jeffrey D. Lipp, president and chief executive of Chockstone. His company helps customers, including some Starbucks competitors, build and run their own loyalty programs.
What he has found is that it doesn’t take a lot to get diners, for example, to do what restaurants want. One Chockstone gambit involves using the customer’s receipt to make an offer. Return within 10 days, perhaps, and you can get a free dessert, the slip says.
“It’s amazing this stuff works so well,” Mr. Lipp said. “What we’ve found is that people can be bought for a cookie.”
Pardon? You’re an expert in loyalty, but you refer to people being bought? It’s such a Winston Smith moment when the word loyalty – in the context of companies inducing you to return – has no connection with the actual meaning of the word “A feeling or attitude of devoted attachment and affection.” I guess brand and loyalty are completely divorced in the modern corporation.
Note: the picture above comes from our local Safeway store where I have developed an almost Pavlovian association with their free cookie box, which has sat behind the bakery counter to be reached into by slightly sneaky customers. Avoiding sweets most of the time has really pumped up the anticipation I feel when I head to Safeway to pick up groceries or visit the ATM.
So I was stunned to see the sign and realize the free ride was over. If they’ve got me making such a powerful emotional/gustatory association with visiting their store, isn’t that worth a few boxes of cookies per day?
And so, am I being bought for a cookie? I don’t know, really. But the timing of the outrageous quote in the article and the outrageous sign at Safeway suggest some dystopian cookie Happening may be upon us. I’ll keep you all posted.