Aeroplan courts Starbucks Rewards customers

Members can now earn points at the coffee chain, as the loyalty program continues to extend into more everyday purchases.

Air Canada-Aeroplan announces first-of-its-kind partnership with
Air Canada added the ability for members to link their Aeroplan account to Starbucks Rewards.

“It’s the first of its kind, as it’s two loyalty programs coming together,” says Jacqueline Harkness, senior director, loyalty development and sponsorships, of the courtship that was two years in the making. “It’s an easy way for customers to double dip.”

When its refreshed program rolled out in November, Aeroplan emphasized its everyday value in a campaign that featured people earning points for activities like pumping gas, buying things online, and yes, ordering coffee – in fact, a Starbucks logo is briefly shown as a traveller jet-sets abroad.

According to the announcement, Aeroplan loyalty members can earn Aeroplan points each time they load certain dollar amounts to their Starbucks Rewards card.

Harkness says the company is expecting Canadians to use loyalty apps on a more regular basis now, with COVID cases down and people venturing outside more as the weather improves. She says the brand is seeing “strong levels” of Aeroplan enrollment since the launch in November, despite widespread flight cancellations and lockdowns hitting the airline sector hard.

To promote the Starbucks partnership, it’s using Aeroplan and Air Canada-owned channels, from in-airport signage to lounge boards, but also via paid digital and broadcast media. It’s encouraging users to “Pour on the Points” by offering bonus points when they create a Starbucks Rewards account. The creative is a cut-down of its high-energy November spot, developed first with FCB and then completed by Air Canada’s internal team.

Harkness tells strategy that Aeroplan benchmarked its new program against 38 different loyalty programs, not just in the travel sector, but in retail and financial too, and it got feedback from 36,000 users. She says the experience is now more anchored in value, flexibility and most importantly, accessibility.

Harkness says it’s loyalty differentiator is that there are no surcharges. When Air Canada first announced plans for a new Aeroplan, it highlighted the elimination of such fees, and also said the focus of the program is to provide more value through major Canadian banks (including TD, CIBC and Amex). Harkness cites a “TD accelerator” that lets members who use TD Aeroplan Visa cards earn 50% more Aeroplan points for every $1 spent at Starbucks locations. She adds that Aeroplan is also offering family pooling, in which families can combine points without incurring transfer fees.