In the era of Big Data, it is easier than ever for companies to interact with their customers and access their opinions over the internet. To capitalize on this, companies have created online communities or other platforms to hear feedback and/or recommendations from their most loyal consumers. Some, have even opened the door for customers to come up with their own ideas about how the company can grow and innovate. This concept called, crowdsourcing is a great way to strengthen customer relationships and create new ideas that insiders may have never thought of.

For example, My Starbucks Idea was one of the first and most celebrated crowdsourcing campaigns. For 5 years, from 2008 to 2012, My Starbucks Idea collected more than 150,000 ideas from their customers and implemented 277 ideas including the innovation that keeps on-the-go consumers stain-free: the notorious green Splash Sticks.

"My Starbucks Idea" Crowdsourcing Success

How Crowdsourcing Worked for Starbucks

The idea behind this crowdsourcing venture was that, anyone could submit an idea on All website visitors could then vote a thumb up, or thumb down on ideas that others submitted. A Starbucks “Idea Partner” then read all the ideas submitted, and chose the practical ideas that had the most votes, and presented them to corporate executives for consideration.

As a loyal Starbucks customer and text analytics specialist, I applied Analytical Analysis to all the ideas submitted in the “Atmosphere category” (7806), and here is what I found:


Analytical Analysis for My Starbucks Idea’s Atmosphere Category

One of the biggest trends that stood out as a popular favorite was “Free Mental Network Chart: Word Association Chart for atmosphere preferences on My Starbucks Idea (Crowdsourcing)Wi-Fi.” This was not a surprise because this was the third idea from My Starbucks Idea that Starbucks implemented from the site. While it was clear to Starbucks and its “Idea Partners” that this was a popular idea, what I found most interesting was that the words “Free Wi-Fi” were also strongly associated with a “Relaxing” and “Comfortable” environment. People suggested that if they just wanted Free Wi-Fi and Coffee, they would go to McDonalds. So therefore, maintaining the environment was very crucial for Starbucks when implementing this idea.


This insight could have potentially been dangerous for Starbucks, because another group of consumers who also valued comfort, visited Starbucks frequently with their friends for an experience. As you can see in the Mental Network Chart above, this type of consumer valued the ability to have a conversation with their friends and preferred quiet music. When they visited with friends, they said they didn’t like the store to be busy, since It was difficult to find seats during crowded times. However, there was not a strong connection between “Friends” and “Free Wi-Fi,” suggesting that these consumers would not want “Free Wi-Fi” because it would lead to more crowded stores. This shows that different customers crave two different kinds of environments, but still both value Starbucks’ “Comfortable” and “Relaxing” atmosphere. Therefore, “Free Wi-Fi” could have been a dangerous venture for Starbucks to implement if it were to compromise their valuable atmosphere.

Smoke-free Starbucks - Crowdsourcing Another insight I found from the Mental Network Chart is the correlation between “Dislike,” and “Smoke” and how this associates with the feeling of “Dirtiness”. This is another My Starbucks Idea atmosphere idea that Starbucks implemented in 2013. This new rule bans smoking within 25 feet from Starbucks stores with outside seating. The strong negative attitudes about smoke on Starbucks’ patios were very clear through this text analysis and could have been identified as a problem much sooner with a simple word association analysis.


Using Text Analytics to Paint a Better Picture

My Starbucks Idea easily revealed the top atmosphere suggestions based on consumer “upvotes.” However, the use of text analytics helps to paint an even more holistic picture about sentiments, and key competitors that surround each suggestion. As I have shown, “Free Wi-Fi” itself is not a complete idea. But, since text analysis shows that “Free Wi-Fi” needs to be accessible in a “Relaxing” and “Comfortable” environment, Starbucks could use this information to create a better plan for implementation that doesn’t compromise customer value.

Here at Ipsos, we can help your brand analyze social data to gather feedback and insights about what consumers say about your brand, and what they value most. With our new services, we can bring holistic insights to offer information about in-market brands or offer product innovation insights. Whether we mine through crowdsourcing platforms, community pages, or online review data, Ipsos social insights can help you grow your brand with honest consumer feedback to paint a better picture of your brand’s true positioning.


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