Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Starbucks offers "free" Wi-Fi

I really enjoy tracking Starbucks. While I have my rants about some of the things Starbucks does & by no means am I a fan of the chain-store I still can’t help but walk through their doors at least 3 times a week for a cup of their coffee. For all their wrongs, they still do so many things right & with Shultz back in the driver’s seat I believe they are on the right track to right some of their existing wrongs.

Today Starbucks announced their plan to make Wi-Fi “free”. The approach will require each Starbuck’s customer to purchase a Starbucks card with a minimum balance of $5. The customer must then register their card online & use their new card for purchases at Starbucks at least once a month (which will require customers to reload their cards with more money). In exchange, Starbucks will provide two consecutive hours of “free” Wi-Fi access offered by AT&T.

Starbuck’s will surely gain repeat business from customers who will use their cards at least once a month to continue getting their “free” Wi-Fi. However, the BIG value-add for Starbuck’s is the information they’ll have as a result of having so many new Starbuck’s customers registering those gift cards. Starbucks will now be able to track customer purchases with precision. They’ll know your buying habits, what you like & don’t like, what times & days you most often frequent Starbucks, when you prefer one drink over the other, etc. This type of data is invaluable to Starbucks & this data will provide Starbucks the keys to market specifically to each customer to ensure repeat business.

So how “free” is Starbuck’s Wi-Fi?

- It’s going to cost you $5 bucks up front.
- The cheapest thing you can buy at Starbucks is a tall coffee so with tax you are looking at $1.73 a month recurring depending on which Starbucks you frequent & what your sales tax is.
- You’ve got to give register your card – provide your personal data so Starbucks can then track your purchases & then bombard you with marketing.

The worst part… I’ll sign up tomorrow :)


Jeremy said...

I have never spent much time "in" a Starbucks the ones I have been have always been small and uninviting.

There is a coffee shop between my apartment and the nearest Starbucks that has a nice comfortable environment with free wi-fi.

A note to all businesses out there... wi-fi is a value add. No one wants to pay for it. If you want me to spend a prolonged period of time, on a regular basis in you establishment you are going to need to provide me with a free means of connecting to the internet.

Otherwise I will just stay home.

Brian Kirk said...

that's just it! starbucks doesn't want you, me, or anyone else hanging around. they want you in & out as quickly as possible. it's not just the lack of free wi-fi. they keep their stores antartica cold, the music is loud so you can't concentrate, & b/c it's the coffee shop for the general public you've got families with screaming kids to boot.