My Starbucks Idea: The Starbucks crowdsourcing success story

tinageisel    February 12, 2015


Organization Name: Starbucks Corporation (Starbucks Coffee)

Industry: Coffeehouse

Name of contact if available: Matthew Guiste, Director of Global Social Media
at Starbucks

Web references: My Starbucks Idea

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Share. Vote. Discuss. See.

The Starbucks social media strategy is built around their company web site and six additional social platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, G+, Youtube, and
My Starbucks Idea – the Starbucks crowdsourcing platform, developed in March 2008, which has positioned them as one of the first corporate adopters of social media engagement.

In its first year it generated over 70,000 ideas directly from consumers, now close to seven years later, the site has impressive stats with over 190,000 ideas submitted, approximately 300 of which have been implemented by Starbucks.

Their engaged customers managed to create a number of product and service improvements via the platform and are able to share ideas on the hub regarding
anything linked to the brand, specifically:

  • Products
  • In-store experience
  • Involvement (i.e. social responsibility, building community, etc.)

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Some of the successes for My Starbucks Idea:

  • K-Cups
  • Cake Pops
  • Sugar free syrups
  • Skinny mocha
  • Continuing the key chain card
  • Free Drink with Purchase of Reusable Cup
  • Tall Reusable Cold Cup Tumblers
  • Bring back 25oz Bag of Holiday/Christmas Blend


My Starbucks Idea – Social Media & Open Innovation at Starbucks
by Matthew Guiste:

Matthew Guiste, Director of Global Social Media at Starbucks, speaks on
My Starbucks Idea at LeaderLab 2010, Open Innovation and Social Media:

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  “The Best time to innovate is
during a crisis”
– Matthew Guiste



Benefits that Starbucks is receiving from crowdsourcing:

  • Free Ideas
    The Starbucks platform is open to the public so anyone can view the ideas, including the competition. In the end however, it’s Starbucks that gets the most benefit because they were the ones who asked and its their customers who are posting the ideas.
  • Direct Customer Interactions
    The My Starbucks Idea platform allows users to interact with each other, vote for ideas, and comment. Through the site, Starbucks gets a direct line into those interactions, allowing them to see what ideas are taking off and what concerns they should be addressing first to help improve their customers’ experiences.
  • Validation
    One of the first ideas that was implemented from the Starbucks platform was based on the suggestion of a user who wanted the ability to pay with his mobile phone at the Starbucks drive-thru. Once the idea was posted on the site, people started voting for it and leaving comments encouraging the adoption of the idea which Starbucks is working on implementing.
  • Human Collaboration
    The My Starbucks Idea site has brought in ideas from Starbucks Baristas, letting the company know about things they want to see changed. Naturally, this leads to happier individuals who represent your company, which in turn leads to happier end customers.


Starbucks Social Media strategy:

The Seattle coffee chain prides itself on how it engages customers through the use of social media as discussed in this audio clip with Interviewer, Poppy Harlow and Starbucks CEO & Chairman, Howard Schultz:


Feedback received:

I was unable to connect with Matthew Guiste, Director of Global Social Media at Starbucks for questioning and comments regarding their Social Media success, but was fortunate to have the opportunity to connect with Amy Kenly, Director of Social Media & Analyst Programs, Kalypso

Screen shot 2015-02-12 at 6.51.49 PMAmy Kenly, has over 15 years of marketing experience in the product development and PLM space. She leads Kalypso’s personal branding and eminence programs, and is a recognized thought leader in Social Product Innovation. Amy is an equestrian, a Red Sox enthusiast, and is addicted to Cheez-Its and Swedish Fish.

When I asked for her opinion and feedback on Starbucks’ success with social media, crowdsourcing and product innovation, she had this to say:

The My Starbucks Idea site is a classic, easy to understand crowdsourcing model. In a business-to-consumer (B2C) model, this can work really well. The site is easy to navigate and the voting and Leaderboard features addresses some of the gamification tactics that increase and sustain member participation. Their Ideas in Action section is important too – people are more likely to contribute when they feel they are heard and see the results. The thing that strikes me is the sheer volume of ideas vs the fact that there seem to be just two “Idea Partners” involved in listening to the ideas and addressing the critical translation layer between crowdsourcing and internal Starbucks product development. Our research shows that this is a challenge most companies face – how can they take the ideas generated in the fuzzy front end (often on sites like this that are managed by teams outside of the traditional R&D functions) and incorporate those into the existing internal ideation and portfolio management processes.

View more of Amy’s Viewpoints on Innovation also on white paper which explores social media and product innovation trends, Early Adopters Reaping Benefits amidst Challenge and Uncertainty

Note from the author:

I was able to connect with Matthew Guiste via Twitter, who directed me to connect with Cecile Hudon, Social Media Content Strategist of the Starbucks Global Digital Marketing team, Seattle. After numerous attempts to reach Cecile via Twitter, My Starbucks Idea website, Linkedin, the Starbucks headquarters contact site and through the Starbucks toll free number, she has been unable to reach for comment.

Lessons Learned:

Starbucks’ business crowdsourcing, via its My Starbucks Idea website, has been a huge success because they are committed to crowdsourcing and have combined the concepts of change, experimentation, social media, customer engagement, and market research and made the results key components of both their brand as well as their marketing strategy.

Other Resources:

Submitted By: Tina Geisel, SMBP Student, University of Waterloo

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If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.