- Starbucks has updated its iOS app to allow customers to send gift cards via iMessage to friends and family members they banter with on the messaging platform, according to multiple reports.
- Once iMessage users have installed Starbucks’ app from the iMessage App store, gift cards are available in several denominations, including $5, $10 and $25. There are various gift card graphics designed to celebrate holidays or birthdays, express gratitude or send straightforward latte love to pals. Gift-card purchases are made with Apple Pay.
- As part of its iOS app update, Starbucks also revamped the look of its mobile ordering interface and added animations, and introduced new push notifications and a store locator for customers to identify the Starbucks branch closest to them. The latest elements of Starbucks’ iMessage app have been implemented in the coffee shop chain’s app for iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad devices in the App Store.
Starbucks iMessage gift-card integration is illustrative of iMessage’s growing arsenal of capabilities. Before the gift-card launch, Starbucks put a digital sticker pack app on iMessage, not a surprising release given that sticker packs have been a staple of iMessage apps so far. Just a week after the App Store made its debut on iMessage last September, it was flooded with more than 1,650 apps, the majority of which focused on digital stickers.
Marketers are rushing to messaging apps to connect with the massive population of young consumers spending time on them. Gartner Research projects messaging apps will eclipse social-media apps as the most popular apps in the next two years. Taking stock of existing messaging apps, the firm estimates there are 300 million people on Kik, 697 million people on WeChat, almost 220 million people on Line, and 900 million people and 50 million businesses on Facebook Messenger, an app that’s generally overshadowed iMessage, although change appears to be afoot fueled by iMessage’s enriched marketing tools. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned mobile messaging app boasting 1.2 billion active monthly users globally, are the most used messaging apps in the U.S.
The popularity of messaging apps worldwide isn’t lost on Starbucks. The company rolled out gifting in China on WeChat weeks prior to unveiling its gift-card feature to Americans on iMessage. Asian consumers are well ahead of Americans in embracing messaging platforms as vehicles for a panoply of transactions. But the additions of components like gift cards that take commonplace messaging apps in the U.S. beyond their core chat function could ratchet up the usage of messaging apps for commerce purposes Stateside. Gartner Research is bullish on messaging apps moving in that direction. “Users want rich and engaging app experiences and are increasingly looking for apps that can offer a multitude of services without users having to leave the app itself,” said Jessica Elkholm, research director at Gartner.
Starbucks’ step into digital gift cards on iMessage also responds to the interest of millennials and members of Generation Z in e-gift cards. A Mobile Payments Today article highlights a study by First Data showing the digital gift-card business is on the rise, propelled by 18- to 34-year-olds seeking convenience.