It’s no secret that I frequent coffee shops.  Despite my typical frugality, I just can’t resist a Starbucks mocha and the ambiance of their stores.  It is my atmosphere of choice for catching up with friends and for pensive personal time (PPT, if you will).  Many a blog posts are written from a comfy leather chair at my local ‘bucks.  Knowing how ridiculously expensive their beverages are, I typically ask for gift cards for my birthday and Christmas (in case you are wondering, those dates are April 1 and December 25).  That way I can enjoy my coffee guilt-free.

Recently, Starbucks has started adding perks for those gift card holders who are willing to register their cards on the company website.  In exchange for their ability to track my every purchase, I receive things like free flavors, free refills, and a free birthday drink.

The other day I got something in the mail that had “Starbucks” written on the outside.  I opened the envelope and found this:

That, my friends, is a Starbucks Gold Card.

I’m not sure what this means, but the second I saw it, I was instantly convicted that the company has officially recognized that I spend way too much time (read: money) in their establishments.  I now have a permanent card just for Starbucks with my name printed on it.  It declares that I have been a gift card toting member since 2006.  I’m not sure what feelings Starbucks intends for this card to evoke in me…

Superiority?  Every time I purchase a drink with this card, am I to believe the baristas will treat me with an unearned respect because I have proof that I regularly shop there?  Certainly they don’t treat their customers paying with credit cards or cash any differently…  Will the other patrons in line ask me for my autograph?  Or at least for my opinion on which beverage is the best?  They shouldn’t.  My writing is illegible, and I order one of the same two drinks every time I go there.  In reality, I have no idea how most of their drinks taste.

Maybe the company wants me to feel appreciated.  They see me.  They know my name and how long I’ve allowed them to track my spending habits.  Well, at least their database knows.  The truth is, no person at this company knows my name.  And they don’t have to to make the experience pleasant.  Cordial two-minute conversations and warm smiles can be exchanged just as easily with the customer who is a first-time buyer.

I was interested to see what my husband’s reaction to my new found Starbucks status would be.  I thought he would find it pretty funny.  After all, who has ever heard of a gold card for a coffee shop?  Kinda silly, right?  When he got home from work that night, I said, “Look what I got in the mail today.”  I handed him the card.  His jovial response was, “You know, most guys’ wives get sent gold cards to department stores.  But not my wife.  She gets a coffee gold card.  It could be a lot worse.”

That put it all in perspective for me.  I feel loved that my husband appreciates my “unusual” qualities and accepts me for who I am.  I shouldn’t feel shame over my gold card.  It’s just a silly marketing device that thousands of Americans are given each day.  Still…  I can’t help but say, “My name is Kelly, and I’m a coffeeholic.”

4 thoughts on “VIP

  1. Awesome…love the card. It's all about them wanting you to feel more and more like a part of their "tribe"… like you "belong". You're a "member" of something…which in and of itself evokes a feeling of belonging. Like you're an "insider" or something. And yes…statistically folks who feel this way will be drawn to spend more time and money enjoying their benefits of membership.It's brilliant, tactical marketing. Love it. Don't love their coffee so much…but love their marketing. :-)…jp

  2. I have this sudden craving to own such a card myself. I rarely go to Starbucks, but the appeal of a gold card is pretty powerful. Besides, if I went more I might run into fellow gold card holders who I like very, very much. How cool would that be?

  3. I've seen this gold card in person – she's not joking folks. :)fun post, KV — argh, you'd think by now I'd remember not to leave it at that… I mean KVL!

  4. LOVE the awesome gold card with your name, except I was a little dissapointed that you actually have to load money onto the card to get points for your purchase. Boo

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