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Starbucks partners with WeChat in China to expand its presence through mobile gifting

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Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Why it matters to you

Starbucks is expanding its presence in China, and partnering with one of the nation's biggest messaging apps is a step in the right direction.

It’s already on every street corner in major U.S. cities, and now it’s going to be just as ubiquitous in China. On Friday, it was revealed that Starbucks had established a Valentine’s Day partnership with Tencent, the company behind the popular messaging app WeChat. With this new collaboration, Chinese WeChat users will be able to gift a cup of joe via text. Because nothing says “I love you” like caffeine, right?

Gifting has long been a significant component of Chinese culture, and with the ease that comes with the digital age, this generosity has only increased. On New Year’s Eve, more than 14 billion “red wallets” were gifted among WeChat users. And speaking of WeChat users, there are now 768 million of them a month. Part of the popularity of the app lies in its multi-functionality — not only can you send messages via WeChat, but you can also buy things, hail taxis, pay your friends, and more. And now, that more includes giving Starbucks drinks.

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Users who wish to gift a Starbucks product can select from a host of gifts found within the app, then add a personal touch with a message, image, or video. The recipient will receive the gift in his or her WeChat wallet, and can redeem it at any Starbucks in China.

This isn’t the first time Starbucks has partnered with a social network for a gifting promotion — previously, the coffee chain worked with Twitter and Facebook to help spread the love. But as Ad Age points out, this WeChat partnership is a bit different in that the app is already well known for its payment processing abilities. That said, Starbucks is actually the first retail brand to offer a gift through WeChat. And it’ll certainly help with the company’s growth goals in the nation.

Within the next five years, Starbucks hopes to double the number of locations in the nation, reaching a total of 5,000 stores. And with a WeChat partnership, it may be on its way there.