Starbucks Idea: Vote for your Starbucks

So, pull up a comfortable chair and participate in My Starbucks Idea. We’re here, we’re engaged, and we’re taking it seriously.
This is your place. Let’s see where we can take it together.

— Howard Shultz

Starbucks has just launched My Starbucks Idea, platform that lets consumers shape the future of whole company. This new effort arrived just in time, as its brand and experience turned bland, trading quality and connection with consumers for explosive, world domination aimed growth.

My Starbucks Ideas is a very positive move for Starbucks for two reasons.

1) Starbucks’ communication department tried to convince me last year that the company doesn’t need to invest in engaging its consumers online because it already touches millions of them in person every day. Wrong. According to the 2007 National Consumers League study, 79% of consumers are actively seeking information about companies’ social responsibility, looking online first. The conversation was simply happening online without Starbucks.

2) Starbucks’ focus on growth traded the authenticity of the brand and openness to feedback for higher, blander sales. Rather than listening to them, the company made consumers feel like activists for their concern about the environmental impact of their indulgences.

Social web technology is finally connecting people and companies again, as we connected with local store owners before the rise of globalization, big box retail, and the low, low prices we demanded. For example, the local coffee shops I frequent in San Francisco have listened intently to their customers, adding bins for recycling and compost, using biodegradable straws and to-go cups, serving drinks in real cups, implementing loyalty punch cards, and installing free wi-fi, because that is what consumers wanted. Meanwhile, Starbucks was building stores, serving blander coffee and experiences than ever before. Is it any wonder why Starbucks isn’t Wall Street’s favorite new toy anymore?

Yet, if Starbucks listens to what its customers and employees are saying, its dreams of a ubiquitous, Utopian experience that enriches lives might actually come true.

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