Starbucks has always been quite the interesting case study. They're constantly trying new things and a lot of the time they're failing, which (let's be honest with ourselves) is fun to watch. Today I stumbled upon their social networking site, MyStarbucksIdea.force.com where people are encouraged to give candid, honest ideas and feedback about all aspects of the Starbucks brand, including products (coffee, music, food, etc.), experience (ordering, locations, employees, etc.) and involvement (community, social responsibility, etc.).
I think they really got it right. It's attractive, easy to navigate, and even (dare I say it?) kind of fun. A site like this is great for a high-profile brand like Starbucks that probably has an equal ratio of lovers:haters. It makes for very lively discussion that, if they take advantage of it, could definitely improve their brand. The company is a mess, and I have always blamed it on the fact that they stopped thinking about the consumer and became overly focused on expansion.
With this kind of tool at my fingertips, I couldn't help myself, so here was my suggestion in response to their announcement that they're launching an instant coffee:
I'm worried for you guys... I think instant coffee diminishes your brand. I feel like it will hurt you in the eyes of your consumer base that thinks of Starbucks as an artisan coffee or even just a higher-end coffee brand. This automatically takes you one notch down in my eyes. I'm sure you've considered that and weighed the pros and cons. I'd be interested to hear what the consumer research showed that made you think offering instant coffee was a good idea.
Too fun. If I get a response I'll be sure to post it here, but in the meantime I recommend everyone get on and vent. It feels good!