Starbucks’ Succesful Crowdsourcing Platform

Schermafbeelding 2015-10-20 om 16.29.04

To warm everyone up for this weeks topic, I did a little research on crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is the process in which companies or individuals engage a ‘crowd’ to contribute to a specific project or cause. Usually the crowd will benefit from their contribution, hence there is a common goal, which is often efficiency, innovation or problem solving (Crowdsourcing Week 2015).

An example of a company acing crowdsourcing is Starbucks and its successful platform The platform was launched in 2008, which positions Starbucks as one of the first adopters of engaging a crowd in product development on such a large scale. In the year of the launch of the website, consumers had submitted over 70,000 ideas, generating valuable information to the company. In 2014, over 190,000 ideas were submitted, of which 300 have been implemented by Starbucks (Gurley, G 2014).

The platform is built for customers to submit ideas for better products, ways to improve the customer experience, and allows customers to provide feedback on products and experiences. This provides Starbucks with free ideas, feedback, customer loyalty, an edge over its competition and the ability to replace costly and lengthy focus groups for product development. On the other hand, consumers are eager to contribute as they have the opportunity to create a better product for themselves. Customers tend to get annoyed when companies make numerous changes without consulting their opinion. Hence, Starbucks has created a win-win situation for the company and customers.

Everyone can create an account on the website and submit their own ideas, vote and comment on ideas submitted by others. This virtual platform has become an online community with the goal to share and discuss ideas revolving around Starbucks.


Infographic showing the growing number of submissions and implemented ideas 2008-2012

What do you think about and similar platforms? Why do you think some companies are still lagging behind when it comes to this type of social media engagement? Is it hard to implement? Can you think of any drawbacks of crowdsourcing?


Crowdsourcing Week. (2015). What Is Crowdsourcing?. Available: Last accessed 19th Oct 2015.

Gurley, G. (2014). Starbucks’ Crowdsourcing Success. Available: Last accessed 19th Oct 2015.


3 thoughts on “ Starbucks’ Succesful Crowdsourcing Platform

  1. Great post! I like the idea behind the campaign.

    What I dislike about the campaign however is that they say that they want to listen more to their customers (and therefore started this campaign), but if you look at the numbers, they only employ roughly 0.16% (300/190.000) of the ideas. It kind of feels like they are using their customers to talk about the brand, and come up with ideas, but that at the same time they don’t really care, since they’re using barely any of the ideas. Starbucks makes the customers think that this is a win-win situation, when it’s actually only a win for Starbucks.

    I can imagine why other companies, especially smaller companies, don’t do campaigns like this. The ideas must be monitored by a ‘Starbucks committee’ so to speak. The people who are part of this ‘committee’ need to get paid. Since the platform doesn’t necessarily lead to higher profits, it could be risky for smaller organizations.

    Secondly, because so many people post ideas you’ll get a lot of duplicates. Lets say that idea A, B, C and D are all the same. The four ideas will get individual up votes/down votes, but the total up/down votes of the ‘same’ idea won’t be measured. This way, a popular idea might not get recognized because of all the duplicates.

    I think that this is an extremely successful campaign for Starbucks. It will generate a lot of word-of-mouth buzz, and publicity. However, I do think that the customers are being mislead.

  2. I think that the reaction above has a good point. Looking at the results, of used ideas, it is a very small number. By telling the customers they care about their opinion, they increase the brand loyalty, and customers will choose Starbucks over and over again. But since they don’t really use the ideas, they give customers a wrong idea of the campaign.

    The companies with less budget can implement the same idea just by listening to their customers in the story. Mouth by mouth is a great way to find out what the customers think and what the customers like to see in your company. In this way, it will not cost any money, and the results will be the same. Starbucks has the resources to implement a campaign like this, with a site, marketing etc. But for the smaller companies, just listening to your clients, is a great way to get the same results.

    I would recommend Starbucks, to be more open about the numbers and results of the crowdfunding. Since the customers will find out about the win situation for s
    Starbucks, and the not so much win for the customers, it will turn certain people off. This can lead to unhappy customers, spreading the word through social media. And since this could turn into dangerous situations for Starbucks, it has to pay attention to what they tell their customers.

  3. This crowdsourcing platform of Starbucks is brilliant! Great post!

    P&G developed a similar platform as well called Develop+Connect program, which lists the problems P&G is trying to solve as well as an open submission where innovators can suggest original ideas for review. P&G also partnered with InnoCentive by rewarding innovative ideas with prizes. This helped P&G introduce more than 100 new lines across various markets, resulting in 60% increase in productivity! These examples clearly show that crowdsourcing has hugely benefitted companies as the ideas are directly from the end users, thus resulting in higher market acceptance.

    On the other hand, the deadliest disadvantage of crowdsourcing is the lack of confidentiality. The problems, plans and ideas of the company/product become public. Other factors such as poor quality entries, wrong direction and misleading information could lead to the company taking the wrong decisions which could affect the company performance.

    Therefore, company’s need to discuss internally and make a strategic decision instead of blindly following what the end users want.

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