I’m usually a big fan of the loyalty programs because it’s nice to be rewarded for enjoying something that you would buy anyway. I have a Starbucks gold card, but I also have a few punch cards from local coffee shops that offer their own rewards programs. I use the Starbucks card a lot more frequently than the indie coffee cards because there is usually a Starbucks that is convenient for me to drop in to when I’m out and about, whether I’m out of state or just running errands. I fill those indie cards eventually, but if it takes me six months to earn one reward, then the reward card isn’t much of an incentive for me to go out of my way.
This is exactly why a half dozen Washington DC-area indie coffee shops have banded together to create a disloyalty program. With their card, customers actually are rewarded for trying out every participating shop – not just for sticking to one. This means that they’ll actually have an incentive to visit new shops and they’re that much more likely to be within a short distance of a coffee shop they can get rewards from. And once they know where the indie shops are, they’re probably a little more likely to go back for that second cup because they don’t have to hunt down the shop on their GPS or wonder if the coffee is going to be good enough to make the effort.