A new button for Starbucks magically appeared for China WeChat users yesterday. The new feature allows users to buy a coffee and send it as a gift on WeChat to their friend or loved one. It’s a bit like WeChat lucky money, except its WeChat lucky coffee 🙂 Read on to find out how the feature works and the details on why Starbucks and WeChat have teamed up for this promotion.
How it works for a WeChat user
Users go to the WeChat wallet and tap the Starbucks logo. First they choose a card design. Then they choose the coffee they would like to send to their friend and pay with WeChat pay.
Adding a personalized message and then sending to a contact. It appears in the chat thread the same as a WeChat lucky money red packet.
When their friend accepts the coffee it will be added to their cards & offers tab. All they need do is walk into a Starbucks and redeem it.
China Channel correctly predicted this new feature to be launched back in December last year (see previous article). We got it mostly right, except we said it would be launched for Christmas not Valentine’s day. Interestingly this is the first time a non-Chinese global brand has ever been featured in the China WeChat wallet. However the promotion is basically a coupons promotion and coupons are nothing new on WeChat. For a long time loyalty cards and coupons have been lumped together on WeChat in the ‘Cards & Offers’ tab under the WeChat wallet (see our previous article on WeChat loyalty cards).
Above: Chinese brand Hotwind’s WeChat loyalty card
But until now they’ve never really gained serious traction. WeChat seems to be making efforts to promote them in a different way through encouraging social gifting. Gifting is a powerful force around festival times when we naturally look to buy gifts for people (see our previous article about Mr.Bags and Givenchy).
Above: WeChat’s new WeGold feature
First WeGold, now WeCoffee
WeChat is clearly encouraging users to transfer more than just money to each other. WeGold is the new WeChat feature currently in testing that allows users to send gold to each other in the same way as lucky money (see previous article). This new collaboration with Starbucks now allows users to send coffees to each other!
Above: Pizza Hut announces from Jan 11th takes WeChat pay in all 1,700 mainland China stores.
Pizza Hut and H&M are examples of other global brands that have announced in the past few months that they are taking WeChat pay in all their mainland China stores, similar to Starbucks’ announcement a few months back. Does this mean we will be sending pizzas and dresses to each other on WeChat too? Probably not, directly gifting a pizza is a little strange. Having said that China’s gift card industry is looking very ripe for a massive digital disruption and WeChat is better placed than Alipay to grab the opportunity as gifting is primarily a social phenomenon.
Above: Walk into any Chinese Carrefour supermarket and you will see these gift cards.
Now that WeChat and Alipay have successfully built the habit of Chinese to use mobile payments over physical credit and debit cards they are going after all the other cards in your wallet or purse. Want to see the future, look no further than below:
Above: WeChat Virtual Driver’s License available in Shenzhen
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