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Customers urge Starbucks to change marketing policy

For a one-day promotion celebrating its 50th anniversary, Starbucks Korea serves beverages in reusable cups at a coffee shop in Seoul on Sept. 28. Yonhap
For a one-day promotion celebrating its 50th anniversary, Starbucks Korea serves beverages in reusable cups at a coffee shop in Seoul on Sept. 28. Yonhap


By Kim Jae-heun

Local customers are urging Starbucks Korea to restrict one person from purchasing more than one drink during special merchandise giveaways.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary on Sept. 28, Starbucks Korea held a “Reusable Cup Day” to give out drinks in a “grande” size cup featuring a special design.

The event was originally intended to deliver Starbucks’ eco-friendly message on sustainability and get more people to drink coffee in reusable cups.

Starbucks Korea limited drinks to 20 per person this time, thinking that not many people would actually purchase the maximum number of beverages.

However, resellers, who offer limited-edition Starbucks goods online for a higher price, showed up in a number of coffee shops in Seoul and ordered as many as they could to collect the reusable cups. This led other customers to wait for more than one hour to get their caffeinated beverages.

“This is ridiculous. Next time, Starbucks should limit people from purchasing more than one drink at a time,” said Lee Dan-bi, a 33-year-old office worker.

This is not the first time that customers have been inconvenienced when Starbucks Korea offered special merchandise goods.

Last year, one of the resellers purchased 300 cups of iced coffee to get 17 “Summer Ready Bags” and threw away all of the beverages. Back then, Starbucks required one person to order a total of 17 drinks, including several seasonal beverages, to receive a “Summer Ready Bag” or limited edition camping chair.

Earlier this year, Starbucks introduced special-edition Playmobil figures, which led avid collectors to rush to coffee shops. Some even got into fights while waiting to purchase drinks, prompting police response.

Customers may be grumbling, but Starbucks is showing no signs of stopping its offers of new seasonal brand items which lead to a huge boost in profits. Starbucks Korea saw sales rise 3 percent year-on-year in 2020 to 1.92 trillion won. This was possible despite the COVID-19 pandemic, partly because people purchased coffees to collect popular goods.

Starbucks’ 50th-anniversary reusable cups are already being traded in online secondhand platforms like Jungonara and Danggeun Market. The cups are being sold for between 4,000 won and 5,000 won.

































































































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