Starbucks case study: Why Discord is the perfect home for membership and loyalty programs

Written by Aidan Wilson

Membership and loyalty programs are proven tools for brands. Starbucks has the Rewards loyalty app, Real Madrid has the Madridista membership and Microsoft has the Xbox Game Pass core. Popular schemes like these are designed to add value for the brand's most loyal customers, while driving retention and creating upsell opportunities.

But there's a way to take loyalty programmes even further, and give your loyal customers - or superfans as we like to call them here at Levellr - a place to have a voice. A place to build with, and not just for those customers.

With Levellr, you can now do this seamlessly by connecting your loyalty/membership program with Discord. And the outcome? You’re going to convert more customers into becoming members and increase retention with your existing members!

In this article, we outline the importance of creating a space for your loyalty customers. And we explore how Starbucks is using Levellr to grow and maintain a community for Rewards loyalty app holders, which has helped the coffee giant hit ambitious targets for engaging fans and driving tangible results.

Why is loyalty important?

Customer loyalty and membership programmes are invaluable ways to grow and sustain market share and retention, rewarding customers who engage with a brand and keep doing so.The data tells us the importance of a loyalty scheme: an astonishing 98% of premium loyalty programme members spend money with the brand at least once a month.

Loyal customers have a passion for your brand that often goes beyond just purchasing products. They are your ambassadors, your street team.

Screengrab of a Discord community for Starbucks drinkers.
Starbucks superfans are brand evangelists.

This is more than just a pat on the back for a brand: 83% of customers trust personal recommendations from people they know more than any marketing, according to Nielsen. Word of mouth is the primary driving force behind 20 to 50% of all purchasing decisions, according to McKinsey.

Superfans are a crucial resource. Yet these fans often have no way to:

  • come together with other customers to talk about their shared interest in your brand and products.
  • access exclusive content and benefits as rewards for their loyalty.
  • have a voice in the brand's product development process.
  • show off their fandom through gamification, leaderboards or user-generated content.

So how do brands create a space for these highly engaged customers -  the superfans?

Connecting with superfans

Traditionally, creating habits among users is difficult, especially when it comes to community and chat. Trying to build this into a brand's existing apps and ecosystem is likely to be expensive and time-consuming.

But what if you built a community where those habits already exist?

A space where you don't have to change user behaviour, because the behaviour is built into the offering and then reinforced with rewards. A space where you own the data on your community. A space that adds value for both the brand and the superfan.

A space like the Starbucks community, powered by Levellr, where highly engaged loyalty app holders chat, engage, and share with other fans of the brand.

So how does a brand create that space, and introduce members and loyalty holders into that community?

Discord combined with Levellr’s toolset are the solution.

Why Discord?

Discord has evolved into the modern-day fan forum. It has a huge reach, with 200m monthly active users and over 600m downloads. This vibrant messaging platform is a place for fans to come together and chat, engage and share their passion.

The good news for artists, sports teams and brands is that fans use it in different ways than traditional social platforms, where they passively scroll and consume content:

  • 65% of Gen-Z feel more confident online when using community-focused social apps like Discord or Twitch, compared to mass-audience feed apps like Instagram and Twitter
  • 70% of Gen-Z consumers join online communities for a feeling of 'belonging', seeing these communities as 'private' and 'safe' spaces.

Brands benefit from this private, safe exclusive access. Levellr’s software ensures that only your loyalty or membership customers can access a gated or closed community, via our email allowlist and API integration tools. The Levellr dashboard makes it easy to control access, protecting the happy and healthy exclusive community.

Starbucks case study

In 2022, Starbucks launched an extension of its loyalty program, called Starbucks Odyssey. As part of the initiative, the coffee connoisseurs at Starbucks wanted to create a gated community on Discord within which only loyalty app holders could access the server.

By using Levellr’s GDPR-compliant email-based access control, they could ensure those users can join the server in just two clicks, with the confidence all first-party data is securely encrypted and handled appropriately.

Screengrab of an email dashboard.
Managing access to a community is simple with Levellr.

Levellr created a seamless user journey to drive thousands of sign-ups, and the results have been incredible so far.

Conversion from loyalty app holders into the server has substantially beaten KPIs. The brand achieved significant engagement among early members, considerably beating the industry standard 10% participation with a staggering 40% participation rate. These engaged and active users have created 600k pieces of engagement through posts and reactions.

Community and loyalty

Discord is the perfect home for loyalty holders and members, as it's the home for superfans. Not only does it create an exclusive space for fans to share their passion and deepen their connection with a brand, it gives the brand access to those fans and their data at a level social media simply can't match. Engaged superfans are the ultimate brand evangelists, conjuring that all-important word-of-mouth. With exclusive spaces for loyal superfans, Levellr helps brands put loyalty and community together.

Your superfans are waiting. Contact Levellr today to find out how you can build a community which works for your brand.

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