Jeff Howe first mentioned the term ‘crowdsourcing’ in an article published in Wired Magazine in 2006. In business, this branding concept means getting services, ideas, funds or any other contents from a large number of people. As the old saying goes, “two heads are better than one”. So imagine thousands of people sharing ideas or skills for a company.
Crowdsourcing can be really beneficial for a firm because not only it gives a better understanding of customers wants, but it also reduces R&D costs. Moreover, labour costs are non-existent as usually participants are just looking for personal recognition.
In this post, we will focus on a specific type of crowdsourcing: ‘open innovation’.
Starbucks is one of the most popular consumer brand on the social Web. The company is actively present in Social Medias; indeed, many of the firm’s campaigns were initiated through social platforms like Facebook and Twitter or via Starbuck’s website.
In 2008, the company expand even more its online presence, by launching its crowdsourcing platform: ‘My Starbucks Idea’. In this hub, customers can share their ideas regarding almost everything that is linked to the brand: from new products to improvement of the ‘Starbucks experience’. Visitors can view all the ideas published, while subscribers can submit, vote or comment posts. Then, a team of ‘Idea Partners’ –composed of over 40 Starbucks employees expert in specific areas- review ideas and present the most popular ones to key decision-makers of the firm. An online section named ‘Ideas in action’ lists the ideas that are in process and that will be soon launched in some stores. Starbucks give credit for the authors of implemented ideas but no financial reward are given. Community members’ main motivation when submitting ideas is to help improving the brand, not to get money.
Here are some successes from My Starbucks Idea:
- Braille Starbucks menus and gift cards ” for visually impaired persons
- Discount shipping to military bases
- Splash sticks ” minimize coffee splashes
- Starbucks energy drinks
- Stores’ donations of unsold baked goods, packaged food items, and coffee to local organizations
Starbucks goes further with its crowdsourcing business by having a twitter account ‘ My Starbucks Idea’.
If successfully led and executed, crowdsourcing can be a brilliant tool to add value to the brand either by boosting innovation or by increasing brand awareness for few costs.
But in crowdsourcing, participants are paid a little or not at all whereas they provide major contributions to companies… Isn’t it unfair for them and unethical from the company?