Building on its reputation as a leader in the customer loyalty sector, Starbucks announced last week that its Chinese stores will be opening mobile gift functionality for users of the popular WeChat mobile communications service. How popular is WeChat, exactly? The platform boasts 846 million active users monthly, speaking to the magnitude of the newly formed partnership.
 
With the new feature, customers will be able to easily gift Starbucks to their friends and family through the platform, while recipients will have the ability to seamlessly redeem the gift for food or drinks at the global coffee giant.
 
Adding to the strength of the deal is the fact that WeChat is a brand under the umbrella of Tencent Holdings, a Chinese Investment firm and one of the largest corporations in the world. Through the partnership, the companies look to combine two of the most powerful drivers of customer loyalty today: mobile engagement, and social media. 
 
“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, 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.”
 
In tandem with the mobile gifting capability, customers in China are now able to use WeChat Pay to make transactions at almost 2,500 Starbucks locations, further enhancing the mobile capabilities of a brand that has already proved to be a trailblazer in the space.
 
“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. “We are happy to be the partner of choice of Starbucks and look forward to deepening our connection to our users through the highest-quality services.”

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