How Starbucks is using crowdsourcing to find the perfect blend

Romeo    February 15, 2016


Through its innovative My Starbucks Idea, the company known for fresh roasted beverages, wholesome food on the go, and the decadent Iced Caramel Macchiato, is looking your way for their next great product idea.


Back in March of 2008 Starbucks Corporation (Starbucks), an American coffee company and chain founded in Seattle, Washington, launched its own crowdsourcing platform called My Starbucks Idea, which at the time may have been viewed as something of a novelty.

You see to crowdsoure, literally means to – obtain needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, which is exactly what Starbucks set out to do. Some of the most successful products the company has launched came from ideas through the My Starbucks Idea initiative. Without it, we may never have gotten to experience skinny beverages, cake pop treats, or best of all those ingenious little splash sticks that prevent your hot beverage from spilling out during transport.

Looking back on it now, something as synonymous as that green little stick, may have never come to light if not for the power of crowdsourcing. What’s equally impressive is the fact that at the time Starbucks launched My Starbucks Idea, the company was in pretty bad shape, announcing it would be closing 60o stores across the US alone. It was this state of flux that prompted Starbucks to take action and risks that may have otherwise not been permissible. In fact My Starbucks Idea was the companies first social media venture, with the platform launching prior to even their corporate Facebook page, or Twitter feed.


“It’s something that can’t be ignored, and they’re doing such a great job of it from a corporate level”

While it’s apparent the online crowdsourcing model is a hit, at store level things are handled slightly differently, “Customers are always coming in with great ideas for a new fixed feature, or seasonal promo, some of which [customers] aren’t familiar with the My Starbucks Idea portal” says Taryn Roy, Store Manager at the 1508 Upper James Street location in Hamilton, ON. “Here at store level we work through the hub [Starbucks Partner Hub], which handles all administrative tasks and is also a fairly new way of doing things. We can compile ideas [at store level] and submit through the hub on behalf of our customers. While there hasn’t been a mandate for employees to contribute their ideas, it’s certainly something I’ve been looking at implementing by leveraging our new system. It’s something [social media] that can’t be ignored, and they’re doing such a great job of it from a corporate level” Roy describes. Taryn then mentioned that having employees submit ideas on behalf of customers through the hub is something she’s certainly exploring.

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Lessons for Others

My Starbucks Idea is now 8 years-old, but even back in 2013 at the tender age of 5 was often regarded as “the gold standard of crowdsourced tip boxes that have actually worked”. It was a risk taken when the company needed it most, during its darkest days, and one that paid off in spades. Starbucks is now viewed as a pioneer in the social crowdsourcing space, and a model to follow. My Starbucks Idea sparked social for a company that is synonymous with not only great coffee, but it’s own deeply rooted culture with a style all their own. Building upon social and understanding what their customers want, Starbucks recently took a page out of Shazam’s book allowing it’s loyal patrons to discover the expertly curated sounds they’re enjoying while sipping that Venti Macchiato through the official Starbucks smartphone app, a product brewed out of their recently announced partnership with Spotify.

Organization: Starbucks Corporation
Industry: Coffee
Name of Organization Contact: Taryn Roy, Store Manager

Authored by: Romeo Crugnale

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Wikipedia (2016, January 29). Starbucks Corporation. Retrieved February 12, 2016,
Shayon, S (2013, April 1). My Starbucks Idea Turns 5, Sparking a Latte Innovations. Retrieved February 12, 2016 from brandchannel,
YouTube (2010, September 29). My Starbucks Idea – Social Media & Open Innovation at Starbucks. Retrieved February 12, 2016,