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Costa Coffee's App Update: Was It Innovation?


Costa Coffee is a well-known coffee chain; their stores are jotted across most shopping centres in the UK. They are also, as of February 2021, ranked highest among the leading coffee shop chains in the United Kingdom (UK) with 2,681 outlets, followed by Greggs and Starbucks. Their brand has recently been working their way into supermarkets, especially when the non-essential coffee shops were closed during the pandemic, making it easier for the consumer to make their own caffeinated concoctions, using costa’s signature blend, something that only appears to have been emulated by their competitor, Starbucks, who also sell their coffee in your local Morrisons, Tesco, or ASDA.


However, in a drastic change of practice, after weeks of anticipation from avid Costa App users, the company released information about their upcoming changes. These changes had, opinionated responses to say the least.


Costa Coffee’s punt took place on September 1st 2021, with announcing significant changes to the Costa Coffee Club, where what was originally a points system would be changed to “beans”. For users with pre-existing point balances, these points would be converted into beans, with every 40 points equating to one bean, meaning £8 worth of purchases would equate to one bean, when, beans would be given for as little as £2 or £3 instore, with the added bonus of using a reusable cup meaning you get double beans. For every eight beans collected, you receive a free coffee of your choice, but, the consumer consensus online appeared to be immediately negative.


This was because, the new bean system would not be an easy sell anyway, with many loyal customers hoarding points via the app etc. for when they wished to use them, for example, gifting a reusable cup to a friend without spending a penny in the moment, or splurging on sweet treats, or buying toasties during your break at work. But, suddenly, according to the statement, you would no longer be able to redeem these “beans” on these items, as the exchange only works for coffee. There is, furthermore, no indication of whether fruit coolers, or other cold blend drinks will be included either at this time.


Twitter user R93Murph expressed the following in a tweet about the issue, directing their frustration to the social media team: “The new bean system is a bit of a joke. I've over £160 worth of points but they'll be transfered over to 'beans'. For every 8 beans it's a free coffee - so for 16771 = 52 coffees (equivalent £109 worth minis) so shy of £50 worth of points?”


Another Twitter user, who used the display name, bigdumbface expressed the same frustrations I felt when I read the details of the new scheme: “What? This new Costa club is awful idea. Who's idea was this garbage. I save my points for spending on anything but drinks. Like a new travel cup if one catches my eye. So now this stupid idea will end my Costa rewards as I won't use the beans on drinks.” Similarly, I liked to use my points for slices of cake, and not have to feel the guilt of paying over £3 for one slice, when I could purchase a whole cake from the supermarket down the street for the same price. And now, all of the points I had saved, would have to be spent in one way. The original system was ideal; a one-size-fits-all approach to the consumer, allowing the points to be given and taken for whatever they wanted. By changing this, many would become disenfranchised and long-term customers would slowly leave behind their beloved brand for a competitor with more flexibility in their points system.


Sometimes making changes is positive, however, the consensus appeared to be that if a system isn’t broken, why try and fix it. After all, innovation isn’t innovation unless there is a problem to be solved.



Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.


He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.


The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.


To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address: arvind@theagileworks.com

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