Bean there…Done that…

At Starbucks, it is all about ‘you.’ Chanting the simple mantra of “people before products,” the company has been able to communicate that it cares about consumer experience. It gave them a platform to speak their minds. Once this was in place, all that had to be done was spotting what people really wanted. And, if an idea made sense, ‘Your Starbucks’ adopted it.

When it comes to e-marketing success stories, Starbucks has to be on the list. The company did not stick to existing sites for this… it created My Starbucks Idea. This platform asks the simple question “What’s your Starbucks idea?” and invites people to express what more the company could do for them. This became a channel for such a free flow of customer feedback that the company was able to get its market to do its marketing. Starbucks lovers began visiting this online community and posting their ideas. They could also see ideas posted by others, comment on them and vote for/against them. This wonderful forum, that was thrown open to people in March 2008, had generated over 70,000 ideas till its first anniversary.

Transparency is maintained throughout the process, from the submission of an idea to its implementation, making people feel that they are actually changing the way they drink that coffee. Members of the website can view the status of any idea. The “If you vote, Starbucks buys you a coffee” video on YouTube got more than 300,000 views. This got Starbucks a lot of exposure.

In fact, this too was an idea that was submitted by one of Starbucks’ fans on October 7, 2008. As the post became popular, Starbucks went for it.

This action on consumer demand has driven the company’s success tremendously. When some people voiced that coffee was tastier in ceramic mugs than in paper or foam ones, the idea of people getting their own mugs became popular. Starbucks went a step further and offered a discount to those who brought their own mugs.

Other social media have been optimized as well. The Starbucks profile on Twitter has an amazing following. Here, over 120,000 people discuss what Starbucks is doing.

Wikinomics clicked for Starbucks. This is a perfect example of how a company understood that, in this age of new media; consumers will decide what they want and how they want it. Incorporating this participatory culture in the workings of an organization can spell success. Businesses have to understand the need to adopt a people-centric approach. They need to realise that their product is only a part of the exchange that takes place. Experience sells.

Social media is the answer if one is looking for connecting with the target audience in a more effective way. It’s time to tap on the power of social media. If you’re not already doing that, it’s time to wake up! Do you need a cup of coffee?

The author, Ankit Chadha, is a member of content writing team with the organization.