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Starbucks wants to sell you NFTs with your Frappuccino

Starbucks logo on an iPhone next to a cup of coffee

Staring into the online void of random influencers hawking pointless NFTs, I’ve often found myself wondering: Can it get any dumber?

The answer to that question is always yes, it can. Case in point: Starbucks is planning to enter the NFT fray.

During Starbucks’ Q2 2022 earning call on Tuesday evening, the company announced plans to enter the Web3 space with a line of NFTs. The NFT component plays a role in the coffeehouse chain’s new branding as a “third place,” which Starbucks describes as a “warm and welcome place” that’s neither home or work, where people can “connect and build community.”

If this sounds familiar, you’ll often find crypto advocates using the exact same jargon about “community building” when promoting their NFT projects.

Non-fungible tokens, better known as NFTs, are tokens minted to a blockchain in order to provide proof of ownership. Like any token, these are speculative assets. These tokens often point to a link of a piece of media – whether that be digital art, a photo, etc. – and act as a digital receipt for the purchase. It should be noted that the asset that is owned is the NFT itself, the token, and not the media it’s linked to.

Interestingly, Starbucks’ announcement comes just after an eye-opening report in the Wall Street Journal which found that the NFT market was “flatlining.” According to the report, NFT sales have dropped 92 percent from its peak in September of last year. 

As for how Starbucks plans to use NFTs, it’s still anyone’s guess. 

“We plan to create a series of branded NFT collections, the ownership of which initiates community membership, and allows for access to exclusive experiences and perks,” reads a blog entry posted by Starbucks on its website in an attempt to further explain their NFT vision. “The themes of these collections will be born of Starbucks artistic expressions, both heritage and newly created, as well as through world-class collaborations with other innovators and like-minded brands.”

What is this community membership? What are those exclusive experiences and perks? Why can’t Starbucks just add these perks to its already popular app to accomplish these exact same goals? Starbucks still seems to be trying to work it all out.

Current interim Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said on the call that the company is hoping to land a new permanent CEO with an understanding of Web3 technology, according to TechCrunch.

This isn’t the first time Schultz has mentioned a possible foray into the NFT space for Starbucks. At a “Partner Open Forum” early last month, Schultz spoke to thousands of Starbucks employees amid an ongoing unionization drive within the company throughout the country. While Schultz laid out his anti-union position to his employees, he shared something they could look forward to…Starbucks NFTs.

“Raise your hand if you’re a digital native,” Schultz asked the employees he was speaking to at the forum. The response was lackluster, which seemed to have caught Schultz off guard. He proceeded to explain that the company was planning to get into the NFT space in an effort to excite younger people.

It’s pretty clear that Stabucks’ NFT idea is a work-in-progress at this point. But one thing is for certain: Those NFT perks probably won’t include union benefits. 

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