Gold

Here Are All The Changes Starbucks Is Making To Its Rewards Program

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/starbucks-rewards-program-changes-2012-9

Starbucks, coffee, cafe, Asian woman, Gen Y

Starbucks is making a bunch of modifications to its My Starbucks Rewards program.

The changes kick in on October 16th.

Here’s a breakdown for Gold level members:

New benefits

  • Gold members will receive a reward every 12 transactions, instead of every 15.
  • You’ll be able to redeem the reward for a drink or food item. The food benefit applies to almost all the food Starbucks offers.
  • Rewards will be digital (via email notification), so you won’t have to wait for a postcard. The reward will be loaded directly onto your Starbucks Card.

Benefits that are going away

  • Syrups and soy milk will no longer be on the house.
  • You won’t get a free tall beverage when you buy a pound of coffee.

Everything else — like birthday drinks and refills — is sticking around.

Starbucks explains how the redemption process works:

1. Visit any participating company-operated store  

2. Tell the barista you have a free reward that you want to use (that way you get to choose when you redeem your reward)

3. Present your registered Starbucks Card (or scan your registered Card on the Starbucks Card mobile app).

And here’s handy side-by-side graphic from Starbucks:

starbucks rewards 

NOW SEE : 15 Crazy Starbucks Customers Who Will Make You Never Want To Be A Barista >

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Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 news No Comments

Fake Gold Bars Are Being Sold In New York

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/fake-gold-bars-2012-9

Fox’s Ti-Hua Chang is reporting that fake gold has arrived in Manhattan.

Ibrahim Fadl bought the bar from a merchant who has sold him real gold before. But he heard counterfeit gold bars were going around, so he drilled into several of his gold bars worth $100,000 and saw gray tungsten — not gold.

The individual 10 ounce bars would normally be worth around $18,000 each.  But bars filled with tungsten, which weighs about the same amount as gold, carry a new value of around $3,600.

“What makes so devious is a real gold bar is purchased with the serial numbers and papers, then it is hollowed out, the gold is sold, the tungsten is put in, then the bar is closed up,” reports Chang.

The Secret Service is reportedly investigating the matter

Here’s a video courtesy of MYFoxNY:

 

New York News | NYC Breaking News

SEE ALSO: Here Are Some Of The Practical Uses For Gold >

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Tuesday, September 18th, 2012 news No Comments

Check Out The Correlation Between Market Volatility And Google Searches For ‘Gold’

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/awesome-google-labs-chart-shows-gold-and-volatility-go-together-2011-12


This chart from The Economist shows just how correlated popular interest in gold and market craziness are.

A great reminder that market data has a broad definition and comes from diverse sources.

(H/t to Ben Malbon at Google Labs.)

Fear Indices By Ben Malbon

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Thursday, December 29th, 2011 news No Comments

Why Loyalty Credit Cards May Soon Be A Thing Of The Past

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/credit-suisse-retailers-loyalty-programs-2011-12


loyalty credit card

Credit cards have been a staple for retail rewards programs for decades (you know, like that Visa card they try to make you sign up for every time you go to Gap). They’ve been an effective way to reward customers, and for retailers to get additional funding.

But a new report by analysts Michael Exstein, Chrisopher Su and Trey Schorgi at Credit Suisse says that it’s time for retailers to abandon the credit card. Why are credit-based rewards programs not the right way to go anymore?

1. The cost of rewards programs keeps rising for banks. As rewards competition ramps up, issuer margins are pressured.

2. As the programs get more expensive, banks will offset costs in other areas. This will result in either less beneficial terms for retailers, or higher fees for consumers. Retailers may have to increase their own rewards programs to remain competitive

3. Retailers’ relationships with their customers could be hurt, because banks (who are now in control of many retailers’ credit businesses) could squeeze consumers. Since the programs are branded for retailers, not the banks, consumers would deem them responsible.

Credit Suisse instead suggests that the answer to these woes is simple. Switch over to programs based around membership fees or other upfront investments. “Going forward, we think the emerging trend will be the need for consumers to “invest” in loyalty programs, thereby creating a “vested interest,” says the report.

So what brands are doing it right so far?

Amazon — The Amazon Prime membership program has been vastly successful. Consumers pay an annual membership fee of $79, and get shipping benefits, free use of Amazon Instant Video and perks for their Kindle.

Costco — The largest membership warehouse club in the world has three levels of membership. There’s a $55 annual fee for businesses, a $55 ‘Gold’ card for individuals and a $55 executive member upgrade, which gives folks a 2% discount on most purchases.

Sam’s Club — Walmart’s warehouse subsidiary has a similar system, with a $40 per year Advantage card for individuals ($100 for Advantage Plus which offers extra savings) and a $35 per year Business membership ($100 for Business Plus).

Macy’s — “Thanks for Sharing” is a program that’s working for Macy’s to generate loyalty. It requires a $25 upfront investment (which is actually a donation to charity), in exchange for rewards.

Target — The REDcard is a ‘hybrid’ method which has been working well since the retailer started it up in 2010. It offers 5% savings on everything and includes shipping benefits.

These programs all capitalize on the concept of creating that “vested interest.” Customers, having already paid a set of promised benefits, will be more likely to keep spending to use those benefits that they’ve already paid for. They’ll keep coming back.

NOW SEE: The 20 Brands With The Most Loyal Customers >

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Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 news No Comments

What is BitCoin?

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5803518/what-is-bitcoin

What Is BitCoin?Maybe you’ve heard of BitCoin—it wants to shake the entire global economy. And some people think it might! It’s online money—an alternative to dollars and euros. Well what’s that mean? It’s complicated, but we break it down.

BitCoin is a digital currency…

BitCoin is not real money. It’s an online “currency”—virtual tokens that can be exchanged for goods and services at places that accept it, the same way you’d give someone a dollar for a cookie.

…with mega aspirations…

In their YouTube manifesto, BitCoin’s creators say they’re going to revolutionize global finance the way the web changed publishing. So! Kind of a lofty goal, aiming to be a global currency up there with (or replacing) the dollar. Right now, that’s still the pipiest of pipe dreams.

…that’s exchanged via P2P…

When you write your friend a check, money from your account is withdrawn from your bank, and then transferred to her bank, and then she withdraws it as cash (maybe). With BitCoin, there are no middlemen (other than the users that comprise the network itself). Money goes straight from you to whomever, through the BitCoin P2P system, with no intermediary agency passing along the chips.

…and generated by its users…

This is where it starts to get a little weird! Unlike traditional currency, that’s backed up by something, (be it gold, silver, or a central bank), BitCoins are generated out of thin air. Through a process called “mining,” a little app sits on your computer and slowly—very slowly—creates new BitCoins in exchange for providing the computational power to process transactions. When a new batch of coins is ready, they’re distributed in probabilistic accordance to whomever had the highest computing power in the mining process. The system is rigged so that no more than 21 million BitCoins will ever exist—so the mining process will yield less and less as time goes on, and more people sign up. This makes the whole system a lot sweeter for early adopters.

…to be spent at the few places BitCoin is accepted…

Not many places accept BitCoin at the moment, unlike traditional currency. But! There’s decent incentive for small businesses to use it—it’s free to use, and there aren’t any transaction fees. At the moment you can buy the services of a web designer, indie PC games, homemade jewelry, guns, and, increasingly, illegal drugs. If the internet is the Wild West, BitCoin is its wampum.

…or converted into real money.

Just like you can trade in yen for dollars, you can swap your BitCoins with other users for several “real world” currencies. And right now, the BitCoin is trading very high! As I write this, one BitCoin is worth $7.5. Not too shabby at all.

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Thursday, May 19th, 2011 news No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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