Good News for Coffee Lovers: Starbucks is Joining the Metaverse

Starbucks has recently announced a plan to release its own NFTs as well as create its own unique virtual space.

With the metaverse’s popularity steadily rising, many companies are working to join the digital space to engage new customers and boost advertising. Several restaurants and food and beverage companies are entering the virtual environment, including Chipotle, McDonald’s, Kraft Heinz, and Jose Cuervo. Many of these restaurants have found success in their transition to this virtual space. Recently, another big-name company has declared its intent to join the metaverse: Starbucks.

What are Starbucks’ Plans for the Metaverse?

With over 50 years of company history, Starbucks has been an American staple, supplying much-needed daily caffeine as well as being an easy place for meetings and work. Now the coffee mogul is looking to add a virtual aspect to their brand. In a recent online blog post, the company’s advisor Adam Brotman and its Chief Marketing Officer Brady Brewer discussed Starbucks’ next steps. “What if Starbucks could create a new, global digital community-a community defined by collaboration, experiences, and shared ownership-all centered around coffee to start, and then perhaps expanded into many of the areas Starbucks has played in over the years as a coffeehouse; art, music, books, and beyond?” The blog post stated.

In the post, the authors said that Starbucks will be using Web3 software to help create and manage its virtual environment. Web3 is considered the next iteration of the internet and includes blockchain technology as well as token-based commerce like bitcoin. Web3 also allows the creation and distribution of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), something that Starbucks is very interested in. The company hopes to use Web3 to create its digital community, a place dubbed: “Third Place.” This title comes from a limbo space between work and home, where people can socialize, work, or relax.

To expand on “Third Place,” the company has shared plans to develop its own line of NFTs. “We plan to create a series of branded NFT collections, the ownership of which initiates community membership, and allows access to exclusive experiences and perks,” the blog post explained. Using NFTs is not unique to just Starbucks, as companies like Chipotle have released their own line of NFTs in the form of exclusive discounts or unique digital products. NFTs have already been shown to be successful in boosting user engagement and can help link those in the virtual world to the real one. Because Starbucks has helped create one-of-a-kind coffee products, and even music and art, it has plenty to offer for creating unique NFTs. With over 27 million active Rewards members, the company hopes that these members, who already use the digital Starbucks app, will have no problem adding this new way to interact with the company. As many Starbucks users get coffee daily from one of the company’s many locations, it may easily become second nature for them to also jump into the “Third Place.”

Like many companies entering this new virtual space, Starbucks plans to do it in steps. According to the blog post: “We plan to take a phased approach here, willing to move fast, experiment, learn, and collaborate. We plan to start with our first NFT collection, membership, and community later this year, based on coffee art, and storytelling.” This creation of the “Third Place,” may give many Starbucks users a new location to work that’s not from an office, or home. The company hopes that it can leverage this new technology to continue to be a big brand, and grow its following even more. With the metaverse showing significant growth in capital, Starbucks will clearly not be the last company to join this space, as the virtual environment will no doubt become more populated with real-world companies that are fan favorites.

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Castleberry is the Science Communicator at JILA (formerly known as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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