Tencent and Starbucks have forged a strategic partnership under which they will co-create a new social gifting feature on WeChat, while Starbucks outlets will now accept WeChat Pay as a digital payment option for in-store customers.
Starbucks is the first retail brand to combine and bring a locally-relevant social gifting and digital payment experience to life on WeChat in China. Tapping into the 846 million global monthly active user accounts (as of the third quarter of 2016), the new integrated feature will allow customers in China to instantly and conveniently gift Starbucks to a friend or loved one.
Jointly created by Starbucks and WeChat, the social gifting feature – available in early 2017 – enables customers to select from Starbucks-branded gifts and products and add a personalized message. Recipients can save their gifts and memories on their WeChat accounts and redeem their gift at Starbucks stores across China.
As part of this partnership, Starbucks customers will also now be able to use WeChat Pay to make purchases at close to 2,500 Starbucks stores across mainland China.
“Starbucks and Tencent share similar values to enable greater human connections through our respective products and services, and I am pleased to partner with an established and respected social and mobile industry leader in China,” said Belinda Wong, CEO of Starbucks China. “This new strategic partnership will leverage the strengths of both Starbucks and WeChat to create a true online-to-offline social gifting platform that will deepen our engagement with our customers in a unique and powerful way. Just as Starbucks cards are among the most gifted around the globe, we aspire to also become the most gifted brand digitally in China.”
“The strategic cooperation between WeChat and Starbucks enables us to bring the unique Starbucks retail experience seamlessly to hundreds of millions of WeChat users in China,” said Allen Zhang, senior executive vice president of Tencent.
The online social gifting platform is part of Starbucks’ growing digital presence focused on connecting with customers through digital channels, including the Starbucks Mobile App, the My Starbucks Rewards program and social media.