Howard Schultz launched My Starbucks Idea in 2008 to help increase the company’s focus on the customer and what they want. The company strives to emulate the coffee shop barista experience online by engaging with customers and building relationships. On My Starbucks Idea, Starbucks gives customers insight into what the company is doing and makes them feel like an insider.
The site is simple and transparent. Once you enter the website, you can pick from three options. One, you can submit a new idea. Two, you can view ideas – what have other people asked for. And three, you can see ideas in action – the ideas that have been recommended to key decision makers.
After an idea is submitted, the company has a team of Idea Partners who read all the ideas. The team then takes a combination of the most popular (based on public votes on the website) and innovative ideas and presents them to key decision makers in the company to figure out how to put the ideas to work.
My Starbucks Idea has had tremendous success and has been the source of ideas such as Cake Pops, Hazelnut Macchiato, and free Wi-Fi to name a few. At the five-year anniversary of the site launch (2013), My Starbucks Idea had generated more than 150,000 ideas and the company had implemented 277 of those ideas.
Incentivizing participation: By actually implementing the ideas no matter how big or small, Starbucks incentivizes customers to submit ideas and engage with the website. Additionally, the transparency built into the website, with a section dedicated to ideas that have been recommended to key decision makers and an up-to-date status of those projects, adds a sense of trust that the idea isn’t simply being sent into a black box.
Value creation: Starbucks creates value for customers by allowing them to voice their ideas and help create a better coffee house experience. Consumers often feel like their individual opinions don’t matter when dealing with a large organization. With My Starbucks Idea, customers feel like their voice is being heard and that they can make an impact on the future of the organization, whether it is new products, the in-store experience, or the company’s involvement in the community.
Value capture: I see two forms of value capture with My Starbucks Idea. One, Starbucks can stay attuned to what its customers want and create engagement and loyalty. Two, the company can help spur innovation within a large organization. Established companies have been trying to incentivize intrapreneurship to create innovative products and stay relevant at a time when start-ups are disrupting established industries.
My Starbucks Idea continues to have tremendous potential to shape the way Starbucks evolves over time while maintaining its customer focus. The crowdsourcing website is helping the company stay receptive to its customers’ needs while also helping drive the innovation engine within the company.